Why mass timber is having a moment in construction
Source: Construction21 International
Humans have discovered new and sustainable ways to manipulate wood for higher-efficiency buildings. Mass timber – made of softwoods like pine and spruce – is fabricated to form larger sections. These fit together to form sturdy, environmentally friendly structures.
Global deforestation causes concern among environmentalists and urbanization is increasing at an alarming rate. Despite this, timber is a remarkable renewable resource – and mass timber specifically is having a moment to shine in sustainable construction.
Do the benefits of mass timber propel it as a permanent solution to sustainable building, or is it just a passing trend?
It Reduces Emissions
Concrete and steel are major energy vacuums in construction, making mass timber an excellent opportunity for decarbonizing the industry. Not only does it decrease overall emissions, but it also uses less energy. It could reduce carbon emissions by around 45% compared to concrete.
For mass timber to be genuinely sustainable, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the supply chain must occur. Sustainably managed forests accomplish this. These are the carbon-emitting facets of timber production that sustainable forests need to consider:
- Rotting plant and food waste
- Equipment and vehicle use
- Soil carbon disturbance during logging
- Inherent carbon sequestered in timber
Sustainable foresters mitigate these factors in numerous ways. They ensure they grow more than they harvest. This keeps biodiversity secure, and carbon conditions are either neutral or improved.
Sustainable forestry also assesses the well-being of other natural resources, such as water, soil, and native land. Producing any material depletes natural resources, affecting parts of the environment by proxy. When the industry plans operations with this in mind, carbon emissions can decrease.
An unexpected reduction in carbon emissions comes from the labor force. Mass timber construction is 25% faster and reduces construction traffic by 90%. More aspects of the process can be delegated to factories and automation, reducing labor costs and wasting fewer materials by crafting more precise amounts. Worker welfare improves and, as a result, buildings are crafted with greater precision and structural integrity.
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