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Wooden Skyscrapers that Trap Carbon Emissions

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Saili Sawantt
Saili Sawantthttps://lifeinaday2016.wordpress.com
Architect and Interior Designer by profession, Writing is what she treats as her passion. She has worked as an Architectural Writer, Editor, and Journalist for various design as well as digital portals like ParametricArchitecture, FOAID (Festival of Architecture & Interior Design), Rethinking the Future (RTF), La Polo International, etc. Formerly she has also worked with Godrej Properties Limited (GPL) Design Studio, Mumbai due to her keen interested in learning about Sustainability and Green buildings. Apart from this, she runs her blog 'The Reader's Express'.

Sustainability has been the awakening call of the hours. Climate crisis has made sustainability as a mandate now. Architects, engineers, and designers all over the world are crafting buildings from the most renewable and sustainable materials. One such material that has proven to be a boon- wood.

Wood is now no more an element to be primarily seen in the interior or low raised houses, designers have rethought this material. They are now using it massively on skyscrapers. Canada has been one of the pioneers to explore these materials in skyscrapers. The Origine eco-condo in Quebec City and the Brock Commons at the University of British Columbia. Arbour at George Browns College Waterfront campus is also a 10 storey structure under construction.

Wood may seem like a rather dangerous choice in building construction considering the fire issues. On the contrary to concrete, steel, or gas, wood can be resourceful material as far as the carbon emissions are concerned. Tall buildings are primarily huge carbon emitters which are costing the environment a significant toll. This is the main reason why many people are looking for effective alternatives that have a low carbon footprint. Buildings estimate to 40 per cent of carbon emissions, these numbers hamper the environmental growth and thus need to be monitored effectively.

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Wood is the way

The mass timber construction technique was derived from the traditional techniques of post and beam constructions. Also, they used an advanced technology that involves cross laminating timbers and veneer lumber which are bonded through adhesives and can be produced either by beams or panels. In the lift and staircase areas that take a heavy load, these areas are made by using concrete and steel structures for better strength.

This advanced wood known as CLT has several advantages as it is a lighter material and it requires less energy to make than the conventional concrete and steel construction. The lightweight quality allows it’s to be built off-site and then bought on-site at a rather cheap cost. This type of construction also favours the urban landscape by not hampering the site surroundings by constant dust, noise, and pollution.

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Prefabrication of wood

Prefabrication allows energy efficiency since there is no wastage and everything inbuilt in a precise manner. This, in turn, allows lesser errors and makes the design exactly as per the measurements. Environmentally, tall wood buildings store carbon by preventing it from going into the atmosphere for decades. This contradicts steel and concrete as materials as they give out carbon emissions.

Fire protection

A perception of wood with susceptibility to catching fire remains but the designs of the existing buildings can meet the fire codes. A series of reports by researchers with the use of cross-laminated timber or laminated veneer lumber allows a minimum two-hour fire protection rating.

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Lake Mjøsa Tower in Brumunddal PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Another question which arises is that how can the excess use of wood favor deforestation. As per the codes if the wood is not resourced from sustainable and responsibly managed forests then that can lead to a habitat loss. For this many certification programs are run by various councils to provide third party verification. They will play an important role in mitigating our carbon from the atmosphere. The carbon footprint is one of the vital reasons for environmental deterioration, wood can actively work towards decreasing it.

Tokyo has a proposal of a 350-meter-tall, 70 storey building which will soon be the tallest wood building. It is time now that we start thinking about wood in a larger spectrum, within the nearing years tall wood buildings. These buildings will be a smart solution to mitigate the city space crunch as well as the climate.

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