1. Sustainability Problem: Concrete is the major building block for constructions worldwide. The production of cement, one of the main ingredients in concrete, generates an estimated 5 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. With exponential growth of cities and thereby construction activity, it is important to find a viable alternative.
Category: Energy, Waste
2. Technological Solution:
- Today, wood is lauded for its smaller environmental footprint and the speed with which buildings can be assembled.
- Trees capture CO2, helping offset emissions produced by a typical building process. And then there’s the string of other construction advantages that make wood economically appealing. It’s lighter, which means digging smaller foundations in the ground.
- Crane costs come down, as they’re no longer hauling blocks of cement hundreds of feet in the air. Driving a nail into a slab of wood requires a lot less energy than driving one into concrete. Months can be knocked off the construction timeline.
- Wood construction has been propelled forward by the growing availability of cross-laminated timber (CLT). These enormous, prefabricated panels, made from several layers of wood glued perpendicular to one another and measuring up to 20 inches in thickness, are strong enough to hold up bigger buildings and arrive on site ready to be assembled like Jenga pieces. It’s also this heft that helps make CLT fire-resistant: the outside layers char slowly, protecting the wood inside from burning.
- Numerous projects are already popping up in Europe and North America: in London, PLP Architecture has proposed an 80-story timber skyscraper, fitted with 1,000 residential units, that would make it the city’s second highest building.
3. Organizational Stakeholders: Construction Companies, Public, Approval agencies, commercial forestry projects
4. Next Steps:
- Develop wood block production sites
- Educate public about impacts of concrete and benefits of using wood/timber
- Create faster approval processes for wood based constructions
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