All over the world, and here in BC, mass timber construction is on the rise. Mass timber products are making a whole new generation of high-performance buildings possible.
What are mass timber products?
Mass timber products are light, strong and naturally renewable. They’re made by fastening, or bonding with adhesive, smaller wood components—such as dimension lumber, wood veneers or strands—to form large prefabricated wood products used as beams, columns, arches, walls, floors, and roofs.
Benefits of mass timber
Mass timber products are a compelling alternative to traditional construction materials. They have a lower carbon footprint than concrete, can be lighter and stronger than steel and are just as fireproof as any other building product. (High Performance and Optimum Design of Structures and Materials, edited by W. P. De Wilde, S. Hernandez, S. Kravanja, WIT Press, 2018, p.83)
Sustainably sourced mass timber products help reduce the impacts of climate change. Requiring less energy to produce and storing carbon over their lifespan, they are an effective alternative to other high-emission and energy-intensive building materials. Trees absorb carbon as they grow and when made into mass timber products, continue to store carbon over their lifetime. This carbon-locking capability, along with lower emissions when compared with steel and concrete, makes mass timber a more climate-friendly choice.
Mass timber products are well-suited to prefabricated construction. As a versatile and light weight building material that is easy to work with, mass timber products can be preassembled as a kit of parts, much like life-size Lego. With much of the fabrication of mass timber taking place offsite in a controlled environment, onsite construction becomes safer, quieter and more efficient.
Mass timber products can take full advantage of building information modeling (BIM) and virtual design and construction modelling (VDC)— technology used to visualize, analyze and make better, more collaborative decisions at each stage of the project. A design team can troubleshoot various solutions, output designs directly to the mass-timber manufacturer for precise fabrication and meticulously plan the sequence and assembly of on-site construction.
Bold expressive structures made with mass timber can be significant part of a building’s biophilic design—an approach to architecture that focuses on human’s innate attraction to nature and the health benefits it can provide. Bringing nature indoors can have a positive impact on our health.
Expansive use of exposed mass timber to construct roofs, walls and floors helps connect occupants to nature, while offering structural, environmental and health benefits. Buildings that incorporate exposed wood and natural materials are linked with improved productivity, reduced stress and greater sense of well-being, according a growing number of studies.