Buildings have been made with wood for thousands of years, but those buildings rarely make it above a couple stories high. Due to building codes and requirements, non-combustible materials like concrete and steel are required to be used in most commercial buildings. Typical timber buildings, like many North American houses will easily burn in the right conditions, but more and more projects are using cross-laminated timber (CLT) which has excellent non-combustion properties. Because of that, the International Building Code has adopted it as an alternate material in the 2015 version.
Quebec, Canada based firm, Nordic Structures, is ready to join the arms race for North America’s tallest wood structure. The Origine Condominium Complex is set to start construction in the Fall of 2015 and reach roughly 134 feet in height (40.9 meters). Once complete, the 12 story condominium will supplant the 96 foot tall Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, British Columbia, which opened in October of 2014.
Even though North America is slowly allowing the use of CLT, it takes a lot to convince jurisdiction of the fire safety. In order to approve the design of this building, Nordic had to undergo two fire tests: a furnace test and a demonstration with a three story mockup of the condo’s elevator shaft. The first test required the weight of 11 stories to be placed upon a mockup of a wall and floor. The wall was then set ablaze inside a furnace to see how long it would take for the wall to succumb to the flames. The requirement is 2 hours, but the CLT wall withstood 2192 degrees Fahrenheit for 3.5 hours.
The second test required a three story model of the condo’s elevator shaft to be build and a one story room attached to it was set on fire to see how the condo would react. Again, the design passed with flying colors, with no visible signs of smoke or temperature increase in the elevator shaft.
The secret of the fire resistance is the construction of the cross-laminated timber, also known as mass timber, panels. According to Nordic’s website, “The burning rate of wood structural elements depends on the species used and their thickness, the moisture content, and the amount of exposure to fire. Mass timber burns slowly since a carbon layer forms on the surface and impedes combustion. Its resistance is relatively unaffected by heat.” The tightly stacked layers of wood also provide a fantastic thermal barrier, with estimated savings of 40%.
This CLT building also has one other major benefit: it’s 45 percent lighter than similar non-wood buildings, which would have been too heavy for the soggy soils in the area, according to the Globe and Mail.
Many other wood buildings have been proposed, such as this 36 story tower in Paris, and an 18 story tall building at the University of British Columbia, so it’s not clear how long the Origine will actually hold the record.
Canada and Europe have certainly jumped on board the CLT train, we can only wonder when the United States will finally start taking it seriously.
You can read the full story from the Globe and Mail here.
Green building is no longer something that can be ignored. According to the USGBC, green building will account for ⅓ of all construction projects by the year 2018, which is now only 1 short year away. Construction is one of the leading industries in regards to the production of greenhouse gases, most notably due to the production of cement, which produces an estimated 5% of all carbon dioxide emissions alone. There are many companies throughout developing new techniques and building products to help reduce the industry’s impact, so here’s a list of 6 products that caught our eye in 2016.
Green building is big business these days and it’s expected to account for 1/3 of all construction projects in the United States by the year 2018. LEED, being the poster child for green construction and the world’s most widely used green building rating system, is expected to directly contribute to 386,000 jobs by 2018, as well. Though green building is a concept used significantly throughout the world, as seen in projects like the world’s first zero energy hotel, the United States absolutely dominates the industry with respect to LEED.
Concrete is one of the world’s favorite building materials; it’s strong, simple to mix, and generally widely available. Its dirty little secret has always been centered around one of its main ingredients: cement. To make cement, crushed rock and other ingredients are fed into a kiln that heats the components at temperatures reaching 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Those extreme temperatures cause large amounts of carbon dioxide to be released into the air and, combined with the carbon dioxide that’s produced just to burn the fossil fuels to heat the kiln, it makes cement one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases in the world, 5% in total.
One of the toughest aspects of construction in heavily populated or close-quarters areas is the control of noise and other pollutants. The public’s worries about these items can stall or kill projects before they begin. If and when they project actually begins, complaints can roll into the governing agencies causing project delays and/or fines.
Arup, a design, engineering, and consulting team in the United Kingdom, has been developing a living wall system, which they think can reduce the noise and improve the air quality surrounding ongoing construction projects.
World’s fairs have been held in varying locations across the globe since 1844 and are responsible for some of the most memorable buildings and structures that still stand today. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was originally built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was built to coincide with the 1939 World Fair, and Seattle’s Space Needle was designed and built for the 1962 World’s Fair (you can check out photos of the construction here), just to name a few.
At the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, 16 homes were constructed for display to promote new building products and materials to the fair-goers.
Billions of dollars are spent by cities and countries to prepare for summer and winter Olympics. Many stadiums, housing and other infrastructure are built to not only be able to handle the games, but also the enormous amount of people that will eventually inhabit the city for a few weeks. But, that’s just it, it’s only for a few weeks. What happens after the games are over and there’s no longer a need for an International Broadcast Center or a handball venue? In the past, the answer has been to let the area rot away and be a hotbed of vandalism, but Rio has taken a different approach.
Plastic bottles are probably inside more buildings than we’d care to know about, as I’ve personally (and unfortunately) been on enough job sites to see way too many bottles thrown around the job site, outside of trash containers. A large percentage of the bottles that are lucky enough to make it in a dumpster, end up in a landfill where it takes them an estimated 500 years to fully decompose! In an effort to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our nation’s landfills, one startup company is hoping to turn recycled plastic into the next green construction material.
Imagine a world where the millions upon millions of square feet of roadway and parking lots across the world actually served a greater purpose than a flat surface to drive and park a vehicle. That’s the world that Scott and Julie Brusaw, creators of Solar Roadways, imagine and their dream is becoming closer to reality after years of testing and research.
Green construction isn’t just a fad, it’s becoming a large part of the construction industry. It has been estimated that 1/3 of all construction projects in the United States will be green by 2018, which is now just a short 2 years away. It’s not just an American thing either, countries all over the world have embraced the trend and have brought incredible new designs and green features to light.Green construction isn’t just a fad, it’s becoming a large part of the construction industry. It has been estimated that 1/3 of all construction projects in the United States will be green by 2018, which is now just a short 2 years away. It’s not just an American thing either, countries all over the world have embraced the trend and have brought incredible new designs and green features to light.
[Guest Post] Green innovations have served to change the construction industry in many ways. Building green is the way of the future, so adapting can have benefits for both construction firms and the customers that will use the new buildings. While materials may cost more and it may take a little effort to acquire certifications for green building, having the ability to offer green building expertise can help construction firms stand out. Operating from a green building can also help clients in several ways.