Today’s Solutions: August 15, 2022

Architects, builders, and sustainability advocates are all abuzz over a new building material they say could substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the building sector, slash the waste, pollution, and costs associated with construction, and create a more physically, psychologically, and aesthetically healthy built environment.

The material is known as, uh, wood.

Trees have been used to build structures since prehistory, but especially after disasters like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, wood came to be seen as unsafe and unstable relative to the two materials that have since become staples of the construction industry worldwide: concrete and steel. However, a new way of using wood has put the material back in the spotlight. The hype is focused on structural timber or, as it’s more popularly known, “mass timber” (short for “massive timber”).

In a nutshell, it involves sticking pieces of softwood — generally conifers like pine, spruce, or fir, but also sometimes deciduous species such as birch, ash, and beech — together to form larger pieces. Yes, the hottest thing in architecture this century amounts to “wood, but like Legos.”

If you’re worried about the potential fire hazard that comes with using timber as a building material, don’t be. These solid, compressed masses of wood are actually quite difficult to ignite. In the case of fire, the outer layer of mass timber will tend to char in a predictable way that effectively self-extinguishes and shields the interior, allowing it to retain structural integrity for several hours in even intense fire.

With its environmental and aesthetic advantages, expect to be seeing more buildings made using timber over the coming years.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Chicago pledges to run all city operations with clean energy

As countries large and small struggle with the undeniable impacts of climate change, more and more cities are taking a lead in mapping out strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One particularly fruitful avenue to ... Read More

Sustainable supersonic jets could soon take to the skies

In 1947, the first supersonic jet took to the skies, with American pilot Chuck Yeager becoming the first to break the sound barrier. To make the technology mainstream, the British and French governments joined forces to ... Read More

This wooden steak knife is three times stronger than steel

Scientists from the University of Maryland may have discovered a more eco-friendly alternative to ceramics and stainless steel for our knives and nails by figuring out how to chemically alter wood so that it can ... Read More

Explorers in China find prehistoric forest hidden in giant sinkhole

At a time when the entire world is concerned with the far-reaching effects of years and years of unchecked deforestation, the astounding discovery of an ancient forest inside an enormous sinkhole in China is welcome ... Read More