Building with timber is a developing technology that may create a new strategy in reducing the number of carbon emissions. Steel and concrete alone create 5 percent of carbon emission each, and by replacing them with timber we will decrease this amount by a lot. Although, deforestation is a topic of concern that is continually brought up this mass timber reform is still a viable building solution for the future.

The Mass Timber Reform

Mass timber is when the structure of a building is built of strict timber. For a build to be considered ‘mass timber’, the timber must be the main source of stability. For example, wooden framed housing would not be considered mass timber. When building mass timber structures, builders can use a variety of different types of wood which in turn can provide a longer lifespan and durability to certain builds.

To prevent an increase in deforestation, mass timber builds can come from smaller and sickly trees that are already dying and cleared as a method of preventing wildfires. Even though this is an issue that is of high concern, the forests today are highly managed, and deforestation is beyond many people’s worries.

As we have mentioned, the main reason mass timber building is a strategy that is being researched is due to the number of carbon emissions. By replacing steel and concrete building materials with timber, the number of carbon emissions would go down resulting in a cleaner and more functional environment.

In addition to being able to lower carbon emissions, there are many other benefits of using wood in builds. Wood paneling is much lighter than steel and/or concrete as well as being much stronger. Some studies have shown that it may be more resistant to fire than other building materials. The pricing of heat could potentially decrease as wood paneling warms itself naturally, therefore the need to heat your home would be less. As this trend is growing more rapidly, the wood interior is highly sought after amongst architects and designers due to its functionality and aesthetics.

Consider a steel building that has an emissions profile of 2,000 metric tons of CO2. By replacing this specific build with a timber, you instantly diminish the high amount of CO2, and that’s just one job. Don’t stop there.

An Architect Andrew Ruff stated:

“Instead of adding to climate change, you are mitigating climate change. That’s the goal.”

Aside from the aesthetics and the chance to reduce carbon emissions, the construction process for building with timber is much easier and less time-consuming. This leads to happy workers and happy neighbors to the building site.

Russ Vaagen, a fourth-generation lumberman, stated:

“Mass timber is the future. It has a lighter carbon footprint; is at least 25 percent faster to build with and requires 75 percent fewer workers on the active deck; comes from forests that are renewable and that, in many cases, need thinning to reduce the danger of wildfire and disease; holds promise as affordable housing; and even, increases homeowners health and wellbeing, according to several studies of woods biophilic attributes.”

Not everyone is completely sold on this trend. There are a lot of components that have yet to be discussed and questions are left unanswered. As the trend continues to get out into the world and mentioned, the more it will be talked and thought of. Until then, we are all left wondering is this worth it? Will the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to building?

John Talberth has formed his own opinion as the president of The Center for Sustainable Economy in Portland with this statement:

“We want to debunk the myth that mass timber is in any way, the shape or form related to some kind of environmental benefit.”

Do you think his statement is right or wrong?

As projects are underway and studies are done to further research the impact that mass timber building has on the environment and its benefits, the citizens are left quiet with the unknowns. Here at Building Empires, we believe that anything to improve the sustainability of the environment is worth looking into. Although, will wood paneling and timber be as durable and last as long as steel and concrete in regards to building materials?