Wood as a building material is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. Though elemental and deceivingly simple, applied technology has transformed the building material. If you have questions about how to choose and use wood, Think Wood's mission is to provide access to the expanding pool of research and information.
In support of this year’s AIA theme, Blueprint for Better Cities, Think Wood is at the AIA Conference on Architecture to share research and resources on the benefits of wood and how it offers better solutions for the communities where we work, live and play. If you're at the conference be sure to stop by the Wood Pavilion at booth 757. If you can't make but are interested in learning more, read on to see the benefits of wood.
With mounting pressure to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment, smart designers are finding ways to build more responsibly while still meeting operational and structural needs:
Diversity, equity, and inclusion: As the global population continues to rise, so does the need for sustainable housing in sprawling urban areas. Prefabricated wood structures are becoming more common, resulting in safer job sites and shorter construction times. Mass timber buildings, in particular, are roughly 25 percent faster to construct than similar concrete buildings and enable 90 percent less construction traffic. Communities benefit from quicker time-to-market and limited noise and traffic congestion.
Materials: Wood is the original high-performance building material—the only building material that is 100 percent natural and renewable. Wood products from sustainably managed forests are a responsible choice and require less energy to manufacture than other major building materials. Wood offers a combination of natural structural properties and aesthetics, suiting it for a range of applications in the built environment.
Energy and Carbon: The negative impact of building materials from extraction or harvesting through manufacturing, transportation and construction is the driving force behind many initiatives to improve tomorrow’s structures. Wood structures require less embodied energy, are responsible for lower air and water pollution, and have a lighter carbon footprint than other common building materials. By some estimates, the near-term use of emerging wood technologies like mass timber could have the same emissions control effect as taking two million cars off the road for a year.
Resilience: The International Building Code (IBC) includes countless provisions and guidelines for designing resilient wood structures. These standards along with wood’s inherent resilient qualities improve building performance to better withstand earthquakes and hurricanes, the effects of climate change, even deliberate attacks. Resilience is key because there is nothing sustainable about having to rebuild structures before the end of their anticipated service lives and all the resources that entails.
Design and Health: The use of wood as a structural or finish material can have a profound effect on the health and well-being of occupants. Effects include improved indoor air quality, acoustics, physical health, and a positive human response to wood that has always been intuitive but is increasingly being proven by research and experience.
Architects across America are increasingly incorporating wood in their designs for its promising potential to transform the way we build cities, while at the same time offering a safe and responsible alternative to traditional building materials.