Canadian study says wood could be good building material for tall structures

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A new study examines the potential of wood — typically used only in low-rise building — as an option in taller structures.

March 13, 2012
wood, building material, study, Canada, tall structures

wood, building material, study, Canada, tall structures

A new study examines the potential of wood — typically used only in low-rise building — as an option in taller structures. Some of the benefits the study discusses include greater sustainability, high structural integrity and lower carbon emissions, according to TreeHugger, a sustainability news website.

Canadian architect Michael Green and engineer J. Eric Karsh authored the study, titled “The Case for Tall Wood Buildings: How Mass Timber Offers a Safe, Economical and Environmentally Friendly Alternative for Tall Buildings Structures.” They introduce a hybrid system they call “Finding the Forest Through the Trees” (FFTT).

They describe FFTT as a “strong column-weak beam balloon frame approach” where large format Mass Timber Panels are used as vertical structure, lateral shear walls and floor slabs. Steel beams are bolted to the panels to comprise the “weak beam” aspect, used for ducting purposes.

Green and Karsh’s principal argument for tall wood structures is the high sustainability of the resource; he says that with sustainable wood harvesting, builders would never run short of a crucial material.

The author also notes that heavy timber is actually more heat-resistant than structural steel, thanks to the layer of insulating, fireproof char that forms on the exterior when it burns. The recent advent of cross-laminated timber increases the viability of wood as a building material.

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