High Rise Construction – The Return to Wood

  • The return to wood is a natural recourse from steel and concrete for skyscraper projects.
  • The new renaissance is a sign of the times – we are going back to nature.
  • In the event of a fire, wood retains its load-bearing capacity for a relatively long time.
  • Wood can therefore achieve a relatively high fire resistance class.
  • Steel, for example, loses its load-bearing capacity much faster in the event of a fire.

Buildings are responsible for about one third of all carbon emissions globally. Architects and property developers are now looking at construction with sustainability in mind. The Mjøstårnet, a mixed-use tower in Brumunddal, Norway which stands at 85.4m is a shining example of what can be achieved when constructing with wood. Read more

The return to wood is a natural recourse from steel and concrete for skyscraper projects. Here are the reasons why:

  1. High rise construction using wood reduces carbon emissions by simply replanting where a tree is felled. This is particularly true where timber resources grow faster than it consumed.
  2. The wooden construction has a higher savings rate on CO2 equivalents compared to a reinforced concrete.
  3. Wood has much less embodied energy from source to site than concrete and steel.
  4. If treated properly, it is also slow-burning and self-extinguishing without releasing toxic fumes.
  5. In the event of a fire wood retains its load-bearing capacity for a relatively long time. Wood can therefore achieve a relatively high fire resistance class. Steel, for example, loses its load-bearing capacity much faster in the event of a fire.
  6. Wood is durable, easy to repair and easy to recycle.
  7. By integrating more wood into the building, less reinforced concrete is required.
  8. Wood is stable, tough and elastic at the same time. It is therefore very versatile and can be used for multiple interior features.
  9. Wood components can be prefabricated making ‘just in time’ modular construction possible.
  10. Wood insulates comparatively well and has a lower U-value than other building materials, such as bricks.
  11. Because of their higher insulation quality, walls of a wooden building can be thinner. A ten-by-ten-metre timber structure can offer the occupant about 10 percent more space than a brick structure of the same size.
  12. Wood can absorb and release moisture. The building material thus ensures a healthy room climate and optimum humidity.

Pic: Mjøstårnet, a mixed-use tower in Brumunddal, Norway. Credit: Voll Arkitekter

It is clear timber, provided that is readily available, can be exploited to the fullest as construction material. The new renaissance is a sign of the times – we are going back to nature.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

1 Comment

  1. All good and well , except once again we are going to be depleting our forests which are needed much more for clean air and oxygen. Another minus is that wood needs a lot of maintenance especially in dry climates .

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Green Building Africa promotes the need for net carbon zero buildings and cities in Africa. We are fiercely independent and encourage outlying thinkers to contribute to the #netcarbonzero movement. Climate change is upon us and now is the time to react in a more diverse and broader approach to sustainability in the built environment. We challenge architects, property developers, urban planners, renewable energy professionals and green building specialists. We also challenge the funding houses and regulators and the role they play in facilitating investment into green projects. Lastly, we explore and investigate new technology and real-time data to speed up the journey in realising a net carbon zero environment for our children.

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