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Old Posted May 11, 2024, 1:50 AM
DCReid DCReid is online now
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Mass timber buildings - Durability and safety

This is a general question as I don't know how these buildings are constructed. I just saw this article about Houston but I know other cities are building mass timber office buildings. Are these building reinforced with metal and concrete? How durable could they be? Would you feel safe if you worked in one?

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Old Posted May 14, 2024, 10:29 PM
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On the summit of Feldberg mountain, northwest of Frankfurt am Main, there is since 1950 a 69.1 metres tall highrise-like telecommunication tower, whose upper floors are made of wood without metal elements ( https://skyscraperpage.com/cities/?buildingID=41551 ). The fact that this tower still stands in spite of its exposed location shows that it is in principle possible to build such objects durable.
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Old Posted May 15, 2024, 3:27 PM
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There's been a big movement in the energy-efficient and carbon-neutral design sector in recent years.

The initial primary design target has been to reduce operational energy usage (electricity, HVAC) because it was such a low-hanging fruit. The typical building constructed in the 20th century (and even 21st century) is pure crap in terms of energy efficiency. Their roofs and walls are leaky and lack insulation, and their windows leak tons of heat and air. So just making a building airtight, adding plenty of roof insulation & reflective roof material, and installing energy-efficient windows has done wonders in reducing HVAC needs.

Reducing carbon-usage beyond reducing operational energy usage is more difficult. The next major step is through reducing embodied carbon. Embodied carbon is the amount of carbon expended during the construction of the building, including methods and materials used. Both steel and cement manufacturing releases an exorbitant amount of CO2 into the atmosphere, some of the worst in any industry. So reducing the amount of steel and cement used in a building would drastically cut down on embodied carbon emissions.

This is where mass timber comes into play. Trees act as a carbon sink (up to a certain age). By using lumber instead of steel & cement, you are drastically reducing the initial embodied carbon in new construction.

Unlike modern wood-frame construction, mass timbers come in beam & column sections that are much, much thicker than a typical 2x4 or 2x8. This not only increases the inherent strength of the structural sections, but also makes it more fire resistant. When a fire occurs, the outside section of the mass timber chars, which helps protect the inner sections and helps maintain the strength of the mass timber.

Mass timbers are no longer a single solid piece of wood from a tree trunk. Old growth forests are protected, and newer lumber forests are still too young to produce such thick lumber. Instead, most mass timber consists of Cross-Laminated Timbers (CLTs), which are essentially made from several 2x4s glued & pressed into a single thick structural section.

You can read more about CLTs here:

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Old Posted May 16, 2024, 3:32 PM
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Walmart is building a huge new campus in Bentonville. The office buildings are using mass timber construction. 2.9 million square feet - https://corporate.walmart.com/about/...ch/mass-timber
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Old Posted May 16, 2024, 6:29 PM
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Old Posted May 23, 2024, 12:21 PM
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The Burritt Library expansion at Central Connecticut State University is being built with mass timber.

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Old Posted Jun 13, 2024, 9:16 PM
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The University of British Columbia has an 18 storey wood frame hall of residence called Tallwood House. It has concrete core elevator shafts (Vancouver is in an earthquake zone) for seismic stability, but the rest of the building is built with CLT floor panels supported on glue-laminated timber and parallel strand lumber columns.


There's a 17 storey social housing building and community centre under construction Downtown, with the same construction technique, and an 8-storey non-market housing building under construction in Grandview in Vancouver

[City of Vancouver]

There are several woodframe office buildings proposed in the city, and the first to get built is next to a SkyTrain station in East Vancouver (now confirmed as the new HQ for provincial insurer ICBC). It doesn't have a concrete core: "The honey-combed-shaped timber frame is a perimeter-braced seismic structure that connects with four internal cross-laminated timber (CLT) shearwalls. This structural exoskeleton will be the tallest timber-braced frame in North America."

[Changing City blog]
Contemporary Vancouver development blog, https://changingcitybook.wordpress.com/ Then and now Vancouver blog https://changingvancouver.wordpress.com/

Last edited by Changing City; Jun 13, 2024 at 10:39 PM.
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