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.
As the world not only becomes more familiar with green products, but also starts demanding them, researchers and contractors alike need to be ready to embrace the ever-changing world and meet their customer’s demands. Each year, new products are released that hoping to reduce waste or harness renewable energy sources, but only some of them reach the mass market.
Below are 8 green products, processes, and stories that we found most interesting in 2017:
Wood construction has typically been used for purely residential products in the past few decades and especially after fire protection standards became more stringent. Besides fire rating, concrete and metal has several other benefits over wood, including overall strength, resistance to insects, and resistance to rot. Wood, however, does have some advantages over concrete and steel, like its relative light weight and it’s much less harmful to the environment.
The Netherlands has a ton of bridges, especially pedestrian and biking bridges, thanks to its abundant system of canals. Perhaps because of that, they have become a leader in 3D printing technology when it comes to bridges.
Concrete is an extremely strong building material, but has a notoriously weak tensile strength. In order to resist tension, bending, and shear forces, steel rebar or other reinforcement materials are added either prior to the placement or into the mix. Even with reinforcement, concrete is still extremely rigid and prone to cracking. In the event of a major earthquake, the uneven and horizontal forces can cause structures to crack and, in the worst case, cause failure.
Concrete can adapt to any shape its formwork calls for while it’s being placed. While it’s POSSIBLE to make intricate designs with the material, it’s not always easy or practical to do so. Researchers from ETH Zurich have designed a new method of forming and placing an ultra-thin, curved concrete roof system that they plan on installing on a construction project next year.
As electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular around the world, researchers are trying to find ways to adapt the technology to heavier duty applications. Due to the large size of projects and amount of money in the industry, the mining industry has seen its fair share of technological advancement. Several manufacturers, like Komatsu, have developed and released driverless dump trucks for mining operations in the past few years. A team of companies in Switzerland is now working on a gigantic battery powered dump truck that will be tested for 10 years.
Rapid growth and the industrialization are the major contributors to China’s noted air quality issues. 4 years ago, the Chinese government issued a “war on pollution” aiming to improve air quality and reduce other environmental hazards, such as land and water contamination. Air quality is at its worst in the winter months across the country, due to households relying more on coal power to heat residents’ homes.
Asphalt is one of the world’s most popular pavement materials. Because of that, researchers and scientists are constantly looking for ways to improve upon it. Additives have been included in some asphalt mixes for years to improve strength, but recently researchers have been getting pretty clever with the types of additives they’re testing.
As great as a product as asphalt is, there’s no doubt that there is room for improvement. Scientists all over the world are trying to solve its most common issues, such as potholes, cracking, ice build-up, and storm water drainage. Los Angeles is now tackling another issue with the material: heat island effect.
In March of this year, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would begin taking orders on their Solar Roof Shingle concept. Tesla Solar Roof is a solar power roof system that eliminates the need for bulky solar panels installed over top of traditional roof materials. Instead, the shingles themselves, which come in a variety of different styles, are the solar panels.
At the company’s second quarter earnings report, Tesla announced that the first solar roof installations have been completed.