At Leslie Saul & Associates, we are not only LEED Accredited Professionals, but our Boston architecture firm is also a member of the US Green Building Council. We are committed to bringing great design together with sustainable, environmentally friendly techniques, so we always keep an eye on the latest green building products and technology.
Recently, the New York Times published a great article about one exciting development in green building technology- cross-laminated timber (CLT). The technology was developed in Europe in the 1990s, but is only now starting to catch on here in North America, encountering moderate resistance along the way.
Fans of this technology tout it as a cheaper, more environmentally friendly alternative to steel and concrete construction, and indeed CLT is strong enough that it can be used in lieu of those products for creating fairly large buildings. So far, the tallest buildings using CLT have been in the range of ten stories, but it may be possible to go even taller by combining it with another method.
Despite the low carbon footprint and sustainable nature of wood (in the case of properly managed forests), cross-laminated timber is far from accepted here in the US. Most architects, engineers, and code-enforcement officials know little to nothing about this building technology, and are often doubtful of the structural safety of the product.
“That’s one of the things we found difficult to get across, that timber panel construction is completely different from timber frame. It’s got more in common with precast concrete construction,” says London architect Waugh Thistleton. However, if CLT were to catch on here, it could solve a pressing problem. Our Western forests have experienced the widespread death of pine trees due to a beetle infestation. These forests full of still-standing trees pose an enormous fire risk, but those trees could be put to good use as a green building product.
Cross-laminated timber has a lot of potential, so hopefully it will start to catch on here in the US. Check out the article, “Wood That Reaches New Heights” to read more, and leave us a comment with your thoughts about this exciting new green building technology!
Source and images: NYT