The concrete of the future: why CLT is better for our nature

For decades people believed that concrete is the best material for constructing anything – we shaped cities rapidly and effectively in the way we desired. Thus, large urban agglomerations have turned to concrete jungles with enormous skyscrapers and busy shopping or business centers. The point is that today more and more specialists doubt such a way of building.

In the modern world new timber technologies are beginning to deliver abundant opportunities – and even superior ones – through materials like Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT).

CLT – when is it appropriate?

Beyond doubt, eco-living is the new global trend, and it is rapidly developing in circles of architectures and builders. CLT serves as a perfect material for aesthetic office environments with its benefits for lessors, who can be sure tenants are going remain with then long. Nomadic buildings fit the bill for public and institutional needs, one good example can be witnessed in Chicago Horizon, a Type IV public pavilion designed by Ultramoderne for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The trend was bounced even by schools and universities, who the idea of having an entire project constructed over the summer while students are off campus attracted at once.

3 things you want to know about cross-laminated timber

Prefab houses are not just about beauty and efficiency – certain characteristics make them ecologically friendly and credible:

  • CLT buildings, as a rule, turn out to be much lighter than concrete ones, which as follows reduces their foundation size, inertial seismic forces, and embodied energy. Thus, prefabs perform well during seismic activity;
  • The use of cross-laminated timber would reduce carbon dioxide emissions. According to some researchers, using the material in building 7-15 stories is equal to taking more than 2 million cars off the road for one year;
  • The material is renewable, green and sustainable since it is made out of wood and does not require the burning of fossil fuels during production.

CLT as a friend of our nature

As has already been stated, cross-laminated timber serves as a perfect example of eco-living. It goes without saying, that cement and concrete are considered damaging to the environment due to the large amounts of energy and water needed in their production. If we compare the impact of concrete and wood on nature, it becomes obvious, that the footprint of the first is enormous compared to that of the latter.

About one ton of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere for every cubic meter of concrete created. When CLT replaces a large CO2 emitter, it contributes to improvements in the carbon balance. Prefabs made from eco materials contain “sequestered carbon," or carbon naturally stored in wood during tree growth. Thus, despite all the energy used in the extraction and manufacturing processes, emissions from wood construction will never match the amount of carbon that is kept "sequestered" in the CLT.
It is stated in the report from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. The researchers revealed that throughout its entire life, a large building made mostly from wood would have a carbon footprint a third smaller than a comparable one made from steel or concrete. If builders chose CLT rather than cement the emissions of CO2 would cut up to 20%, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry.

To sum up, prefabricated homes are good opportunities to co-exist with our environment without harming or damaging it. Choosing CLT means keeping balance, significant for comfort living and ecological safety. Brette Haus uses cross-laminated timber for floors, walls and ceilings.