FOR MILLENIA humans have relied on trees as an essential resource in sustaining life. It’s only fitting that the industry of design and development is now leaning on wood to build a better environment for the benefit of future generations. As concerns over climate change continue to rise, environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) advocates are eyeing mass timber construction as a sustainable alternative to concrete and steel — and for good reason. Not only are mass timber builds an easy and practical way to simplify new building construction, they significantly reduce the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.
The idea of ESG investing is simple — put your money where your morals are. Even better, developers, tenants and investors of ESG initiatives are in it not because they have to, but because they want to. And luckily, it’s becoming the new normal in the industry, melding return on investment with sustainability. Sounds like a win-win? Well, it is. And we’re all about it.
Here are just a few reasons why we’re yelling timber:
Stacking Up the Benefits — Literally
In the assembly process, solid engineered wood panels are layered perpendicular and glued to each other to create cross laminating timber (CLT). This lightweight, yet astonishingly sturdy product can be prefabricated for quick on site assembly and altered with little waste. A lighter material means a small footprint, reducing the size of building foundations in comparison to that of concrete or steel structures. While mass timber buildings typically incur a 5-10% premium in upfront material cost, developers can offset the overages by saving up to 30% on construction fees, as the speed of assembly compresses the project schedule. In addition, wood is more predictable and temperature tolerant than concrete, allowing for more flexibility when working through cold weather months.
Giving Mother Nature a Breather
Beyond the dollars, mass timber makes perfect sense to help combat CO2 emissions. The building industry is responsible for approximately 39% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Concrete and steel are two of the main culprits driving these percentages, as the amount of energy required to manufacture these products is staggering. Conversely, mass timber buildings sequester carbon, keeping it stored in the wood and out of the atmosphere. By some estimates, the near term use of CLT and other emerging wood technologies in buildings 7-15 stories could have the same emissions control affect as taking more than 2 million cars off the road for one year. However, where you get your wood matters. Opting for timber sourced from sustainable forestry practices goes hand-in-hand with maximizing the environmental contributions of mass timber builds.
Flexing Some Serious Fibers
Even more impressive is the performance of mass timber in times of crisis. Under the extreme heat of fire — unlike steel which is prone to melt and collapse — wood will char and slowly burn from the outside while maintaining the strength of its inner core, allowing emergency response valuable time to save people and property. Similarly, in areas prone to earthquakes mass timber performs exceedingly well. Its light and ductile bones move with seismic activity, bending before it breaks.
Taking In the Great Indoors
But enough about stress. Let’s talk zen. Wood is loaded with biophilic benefits, many of which directly impact user experience. Known to boost physical and mental wellbeing, the presence of wood in the built environment has been proven to increase user satisfaction, lower absenteeism, sharpen concentration, and feed productivity. Likewise, wood boasts natural acoustic and insulative qualities, making it an ideal choice for a comfortable indoor oasis.
Put wood to work on your next project
Feeling inspired? Us too! Which brings us to our favorite thing about mass timber — it’s completely attainable. In fact, D2 currently has two such projects underway in collaboration with Equus Capital Partners (more about that below). As a studio, D2 is committed to the advancement of mass timber development and supporting our client’s ESG efforts through our designs. Together, we can make these practices commonplace in our communities and enact sustainable solutions that fuel prosperity.
Interested in learning more about mass timber? Drop us a line and we’ll be in touch!