Since we first posed the question more than a year ago, “Can you guess the ‘newest’ construction material for hi-rise buildings,” announcements have continued regarding the use of wood as a construction material for multi-story buildings. And that’s good news for the value of U.S. forestlands.
A recent interview by Jeff Spross in The Week magazine, “How to build a skyscraper out of wood” with architect Todd Snapp of the global firm Perkins + Will, underscores the increasing popularity of wood hi-rise projects. The firm’s River Beech Tower project in Chicago proposes a conceptual 800-foot residential skyscraper that would be built almost entirely out of wood.
In Spross’s story, Snap was quoted as saying, “Each material has its different pros and cons, and there’s no reason that timber shouldn’t be part of that larger discussion. I can’t say it’s better than steel or concrete. I can say it should be just as relevant in the discussion of what material to use.”
The article in The Week cites, as have others, continued support for multi-story wood buildings based on wood being lighter and more flexible than steel or concrete; wood being easier to work with resulting in a cost savings benefit; the insulation factors of a wood structure in reducing heating and cooling costs; and the resistance of cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction panels to fire damage rivaling that of steel.
With passage of the Farm Bill, investment and commercial interest in CLT and other engineered wood products is poised to take off, according to industry analysts. The Timber Innovation Act language in the Farm Bill aids the forest-value chain that supports the rural American economy and the demand for wood raw materials.
For more on how CLT and other engineered wood products benefit landowners and keeping forest lands forested, watch for next week’s “Bird Forestry Latest News.”