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The New Green Building Revolution Uses Timber to Build ‘Plyscrapers’ That Save Tons of CO2


Around the world, advancements in plywood technology are giving way to a large number of wooden skyscrapers aptly called “skyscrapers.”

Mjøstårnet Tower in Norway: Woodify AS / Vjus AS

These innovative towers are beginning to exceed 200 feet, with an ambitious project in Norway reaching 280 feet, while also generating less carbon emissions and requiring less time to build.

The secret to the survival and success of these scrapers comes down to a new way of creating plywood, which involves laminating wooden planks with glue at 90-degree angles before pressing them together under the immense pressure and steam from the presses. industrial for wood.

“This technology has changed the whole face of wood as a building material,” said Roma Agrawal, the structural engineer who built The Shard in central London. The Economic Times. “It is a big step forward in terms of strength [paired with] massive advances ” [in fire safety.]

The result, known as cross laminated lumber, or CLT, is part of a group of materials called solid wood, and thanks to changes in building regulations and a greater look towards sustainability, they are now being used in construction projects every bigger and bigger.

Buildings like the Terrace of the house in Vancouver (19 floors), the Hoho in Vienna (24 floors), the Ascent in Milwaukee (25 floors), and the Mjøstårnet in Norway—The tallest wooden tower in the world, it would not be possible without CLT and mass wood technology.

However, while the idea of ​​cutting down enough trees to replicate a famous horizon seems ridiculously negative for the climate, considering the loss of carbon sequestration, the reality is that there are stages in the life of a tree where they become emitters. carbon, instead of carbon. trappers.

Carbon Capture Construction

Trees don’t always store carbon and they don’t always absorb more carbon than they emit. Natural storms can uproot trees, exposing their precious carbon-sequestering roots to decay.

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Death by fire, disease, age, damage, or any other form causes a tree to lose much of its sequestered carbon and produce even more from the fungi that break it down through the process of decomposition.

But when a tree reaches a certain age, it will actually have absorbed a lot of carbon. By turning that tree into lumber en masse, the carbon cannot escape through natural processes, making the wooden towers wooden prisons, with carbon dioxide as prisoners.

“Trees store carbon, so if you harvest them at the right age when they can’t absorb much more or grow much larger, then it’s a better solution to use them as a building material,” says Øystein Elgsaas of Voll Architecture, part of the team that built the Mjøstårnet tower in Norway.

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in a video call with CNN, Elgsaas broadens the idea by adding that: “It extends the useful life of trees (by preventing their decomposition) by about 100 or 200 years, if done correctly.”

International Building Codes, used by many countries as the basis for their own local building regulations, have recently allowed the creation of wooden buildings to reach 18 stories.

While 18-story timber buildings have not existed in modern times, it remains to be seen whether planned towers like Sumitomo Forestry W350—A wooden tower stretching 1,189 feet in the air, or the one in London Oak wood tower, a little shorter at just under 1,000 feet, will be made based on current building regulations.

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But new research on fire resistance, strength and other things that would have politicians and regulators surprise CLT and mass lumber construction, as well as a deluge of market support and falling prices From lumber en masse, it paints a picture of a culture of timber tower building that is preparing to catch fire in architecture studios around the world.

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