Mass Timber, Not Steel, Is the Future of Construction

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Fire-blocking mass timber construction could bring millions of pounds of carbon absorption to cities around the world. Wooden skyscraper designs are trendy around the world and reflect changing attitudes about wood construction. Making construction-grade timber can also cost less in carbon emissions than concrete and steel. Could fire-blocking timber construction be part of the carbon-neutral city of the future? Scientists from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research think so. In a new paper, they argue that timber construction could become a critical carbon sink in cities around the world, acting in much the same way that trees do. Researchers say that the “mass timber” style of construction is fundamentally fire-safe, and other groups around the world continue to work on making truly non-combustible wood products to completely put the issue to bed. If a building is made with a solid wooden structure, it isn’t consumed by fire the same way plywood is, for example. Plywood has flammable glue, making it more vulnerable than solid wood. Medium density fiberboard (MDF) and oriented strand board (OSB) are both also pretty flammable. But solid wood tends to burn on the outside while the inside remains untouched, like trying to start a […]

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