Why Wood Page

Why wood?

Why wood?

Why wood? well this question is at the heart my consulting activities, the mutliple questions that this original question raise are worth detailed answers. You can access these articles through the following links or with the navigation to the left

Why Wood? Political and Philosophical reasons

Why Wood? Political and Philosophical reasons

In order to fight the global warming we need to take steps towards bioeconomy. The Building and construction sector is a major user of material and energy resources.
Drastic measures should be enforced to change the modus operandi on which the building industry has been relying on for the last half a century. This includes for example the use of materials, quality control, investment in R&D and efficiency.

The increase in the use of wood is an improvement, but what is needed is a paradigm shift: A total change in the industrial way of building with wooden solutions is required, it will not be easy.

It will mean a total change in the business of building, new roles will be adopted, old roles become obsolete. At the present juncture all the actors in the ecosystem need more information.

Heinopuu proposes to be the one information steward that You can trust.

The common motivations for pursuing a wood project are innovation, market leadership and carbon reduction. Energy efficiency and healthy indoor environments that promote a sense of well-being are complimentary design objectives.
Most city councils, states' governments, most planning authorities have regulations or standards that preclude the use of timber. The building requirements have shifted towards non-combustible construction material over the last 100 years.

Why develop wood design solutions for a new structural typology with the potential for a place of importance in the market in the near future ?

“Successful innovation is about uptake and a sustainable future use, not necessarily the simple production of a new product or system. In other words, invention is about creation while innovation is about its adoption.
There is much scope for timber to innovate and it 
is absolutely necessary if we are to grow the market within a stagnant construction sector.”

Why Wood? Bottom line reasons!

Why Wood? Bottom line reasons!

First thing, let's bear in mind that a full committing to prefabrication is integral to realizing the benefits of building with timber.

Major benefits of wood construction lye in precision, quality control, schedule, clean and dry site, which are worth money.

Faster construction times – many of the mass timber products lend themselves well to prefabricated components, which make for quick installation and assembly which have a number of advantages:

- Cost savings in a shorter construction schedule.
- Advantageous for dense urban sites, with little space to store components.
- Components can arrive on site ‘just in time’ and be erected/installed immediately.
- A timber structure offers a cleaner, drier, healthier working environment for the construction team.

Modular elements using CLT or frame structure are the least disruptive construction process ever: few trucks movement // few people on site // quiet construction process.

All design has to be done upfront, it is a file to factory process which minimizes waste and reduces on site decision making and errors

Developers are starting to acknowledge the benefits of tall wood construction using prefabricated elements because it reduces construction times and costs. So that’s ultimately what’s driving the push. And I think that as governments continue to quantify sustainability costs through credits, rebates, and upholding energy and carbon standards, it makes the business case to support timber as the primary structural material even stronger. And architects are driven to wood by the sustainability benefits and increased design flexibility.

Mass timber/tall wood projects should be approached as wholly innovative, rather than with a focus on only an application, a component or a system that is related to wood elements. 
From an innovative process point of view, unlike conventional construction, it is beneficial to engage the construction team early in the process to align design concepts, regulatory requirements and construction realities. This interaction begins to identify critical issues related to site, material selection and construction coordination and leads to more efficient and practical design solutions. 

For the authorities having jurisdiction, the approval process could be expedited by the presentation of detailed research and well-developed design details that clearly achieve or exceed building safety standards and demonstrate equal or better overall building performance levels.

Why structural wood technology? - Market leadership in innovation
- Cost
- Structural performance
- Acoustical performance
- Carbon footprint
- Building energy performance
- Incentives (eg. financial, recognition, innovation)
- Design aesthetic
- Speed of construction
Believe mass timber to be a very durable structural option, appropriate for long-term capital and operational investment and to support high-quality finishing in a high-end residential context.

Why Wood? Environmental reasons!

Why Wood? Environmental reasons!

There are lots of reasons to consider wood – first it has a lower environmental impact and a lighter carbon footprint than other commonly used buildingmaterials [traditional choices like, reinforced concrete and steel].
Wood is the only major building material that is made the by sun and is completely renewable.

Wood products have less embodied energy, which results into lower air and water pollution. Wood can significantly impact the quality of space – on the interior and exterior spaces that include exposed wood are warm and inviting.
People tend to have strong, positive reactions and connections to spaces with wood.

Wooden building sequesters carbon?

Trees naturally absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, incorporating it into their wood, leaves and needles, roots and surrounding soil (a carbon storage).
That carbon is only released when the wood begins to decay. Wood products sequester stored carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere for the lifetime of the structure — or longer if the wood is reclaimed, reused and manufactured into other products. It is important that forests are maintained responsibly to manage the balance between carbon sink and storage and of course, a healthy ecosystem and other forest uses.

Realize significant carbon savings compared to conventional structural materials such as steel and concrete, by using more timber in construction. In several cases carbon reductions were pursued in response to governing regulatory policy.

There is a sense of well-being afforded by the timber elements in the finished space. The healing properties of wood are widely studied.

Why wood? Engineering reasons!

Why wood? Engineering reasons!

A wood solution is integral and complementary to goals of optimizing load-bearing structure to energy performance and high quality spaces for users.
Wood is often noted as beneficial in contributing to good envelope performance; as a poor conductor of heat, it minimizes thermal bridging, improving the effectiveness of the insulation compared to other materials.

The complementary advantage of achieving good air tightness afforded by the precision cut and fit of prefabricated panel components, with less joints, gaps and penetrations to seal as compared to other materials/systems – aligning well with the passive house standards.
It must also be emphasized that wood contributes significantly to a healthy indoor environment and high quality spaces that foster a sense of well-being.

As with any structural material, the most important factor to a building’s longevity is good design.

Extensive research and documented experience have led to a number of proven strategies ensuring wood structural systems are capable of meeting service life objectives. Structural or mass timber products like CLT or LVL have an inherent resistance to fire. Wood burns slowly and the char layer created on the surface as it burns helps protect and insulate unburnt wood below the charred layer.

The unburnt portion of a thick member retains it's strength. In addition, timber panel products can eliminate void spaces between walls and floors where fire tends to spread easily.

Fire protection strategies vary depending on the type of timber products used and the requirements of the jurisdiction.
Among all the projects surveyed, timber elements were oversized to include a char layer, in addition to encapsulating timber elements with gypsum to some degree.
Sprinkler systems and intumescent paint applied to exposed timber were also common fire protection strategies.

Common fire strategies:

1) Oversized timber elements to add a charring layer
2) Encapsulating timber element with gypsum
3) Sprinkler systems and intumescent paint applied to exposed timber
4) Gypsum added to create noncombustible layer
5) No wood cladding on exterior - noncombustible surface

I think the main challenge for approval of tall timber buildings is the current code environment.
In my opinion, it’s a matter of engaging the building authorities and demonstrating a technical understanding of the real fire safety issues – potentially overcoming any myths or misconceptions of fire safety in timber buildings.
In my experience, many people think that a timber structure is basically a tinder box, that these sorts of buildings are more dangerous and have greater risks than other buildings.
The task of fire engineers is to use the information available to us to evaluate and communicate the real fire safety risks, develop appropriate fire protection strategies, and allow society to decide an acceptable level of risk for these buildings.

There is a strong regulatory grounding in Europe where governing policies in support of low carbon construction, energy efficiency, or renewable resources, directly or indirectly encourage wood and mass timber construction.
These nuances appear to be significant for advancing strong and credible markets for wood construction.

Most wooden buildings don’t appear from the exterior to be wooden buildings. Often the wood is featured inside in engineered structures, where it makes the most striking impact.