Advancements in construction technology have led to a categorically unique building material that is quickly establishing a major foothold in the industry. Mass timber is showing the world that its strength and stability are every bit as safe and reliable as its more traditional steel and concrete counterparts, and even more cost effective. That show of strength and stability, as well as of mass timber’s design flexibility and environmental sustainability, is causing a complete paradigm shift that is changing public perception about what was long believed to be the comparatively limited construction capability of wood. Since 2013 in the continental United States alone there are more than 700
Mass timber offers a renewable and sustainable alternative to its more fossil-fuel intensive industry counterparts. Buildings constructed from wood become what researchers refer to as a “carbon sink”, in that they perform in much the same way that trees do in terms of their carbon engagement. Trees “inhale” CO2 as they grow and, chemically speaking, they lock that carbon away. The wood in a mass timber framed structure keeps that carbon sealed within itself until the wood degrades or the building is destroyed. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry, the substitution of steel and concrete with mass timber products in large-scale construction projects can reduce global CO2 emissions by as much as 31
By being left exposed, the wood beams, columns, and panels used in mass timber frame buildings provides a differentiating finish palette for a uniquely attractive aesthetic. Additionally, numerous studies focusing on wood’s biophilic benefits have found direct correlations between the use of exposed wood in commercial, residential, and medical-use structures and improved physical and psychological health and well-being among occupants who live and work in those buildings.
Speed to Market and Cost
framing systems are able to go up faster than other traditional material systems, with MTF projects able to be constructed approximately 25% faster than similar projects that use concrete and/or steel. Moreover, mass timber projects have seen as much as a 90% reduction in construction traffic – that is, in the number and frequency of industrial vehicles delivering materials – as well as up to 75% fewer workers, making for a much quieter and more efficient work site. All of this increased efficiency inevitably leads to a substantial overall project cost reduction and healthier bottom line for owners and developers.