Mass Timber Opportunities: When Innovations and Nature Merge

20 December 2022

(Canada) From timber long houses in Europe to temples in Asia, wood has been a primary construction material in buildings since the Stone Age, with some still standing more than a thousand years later. Today, modern technology and engineering is turning wood into a “new” building material, mass timber, which is set to transform the North American lumber industry.

The changes unfolding showcase a radically different approach to construction on the continent, opening a number of opportunities to build on this momentum and be on the cutting edge of innovation.

Beautiful and resilient, mass timber products are gaining traction as an alternative to steel and concrete amid global efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions down to zero by 2050. Made from thick layers of wood compressed together with glue or nails, mass timber – sourced from sustainably managed forests – produces significantly less construction waste, reduces the need for carbon-intensive building materials, and is fire resistant.

The 155,000 sq. ft. 10-story Dalston Works apartment building, Google’s new “Landscraper” headquarters in London, and university campus buildings from South Carolina to British Columbia, are just a few examples of the large-scale builds that can be achieved using this material. The 4,000 seat Idaho Central Credit Union Arena, with its sweeping curved roofline, is a stunning landmark design that represents the type of custom architecture that is also possible with mass timber.

Mass timber projects often employ a modular building approach, meaning many of the parts – from different types of panels, configurations, connections and colours – are selected by the client, then built off-site before being assembled on-site. It is a design feature that significantly cuts down construction time and waste.

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