Cross-Laminated Timber Proves Sustainable Alternative to Conventional Building Materials

A London architecture firm is investigating how they can use sustainable timber to build homes while reducing carbon emissions.

📅   Mon September 25, 2017 - National Edition
Emily Buenzle


CLT is created by pressing multiple sheets of lumber together with an adhesive and a hydraulic press.
CLT is created by pressing multiple sheets of lumber together with an adhesive and a hydraulic press.

A London architecture firm is investigating how they can use sustainable timber to build homes while reducing carbon emissions.

In the United Kingdom, buildings produce 45 percent of the country's carbon emissions, but according to Andrew Waugh, a founding partner of architecture firm Waugh Thistleton, there is little focus on the role that construction materials play in making up that number, KITV 4 reported.

"If you look at a building's climate footprint over 14 years, it is about 80% the building materials that go into it," said Waugh in an interview with CNNMoney. "We need to change the way we live for climate change."

To do their part in reducing carbon emissions, Waugh Thistleton recently completed a 10-story, 17,000-sq.-ft. building made of cross-laminated timber (CLT) in London. The firm said this is the largest construction project made of CLT in the world.

CLT is created by pressing multiple sheets of lumber together with an adhesive and a hydraulic press, KITV 4 reported. Overall, timber is thought to be more environmentally friendly than steel or concrete, which both create a lot of greenhouse gases and use up a great deal of sand and water in production. In addition, timber is significantly lighter than steel and concrete, and therefore costs less to transport. Using a lightweight material also means that buildings can rise higher than their concrete-and-steel counterparts, providing more living space Finally, the panels' density helps to keep the heat in, leading to lower energy costs, KITV 4 reported.

What's more, CLT is fire resistant, according to renewable materials producer Stora Enso. Rather than burning, the material chars, which means it will hold its structure longer than other materials, including steel, KITV 4 reported.