Imagine rebuilding the entire Empire State Building, but in place of steel and concrete we’d use wood. That’s right, wood!
What was once seen as an impossible task – building a structurally sound high rise building out of wood – is now a reality, thanks to the innovations of Cross-Laminated Timber or CLT and a change to the 2021 International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code® (IFC) pertaining to mass timber. While the U.S. isn’t cleared to build the 102 stories needed for an all wood Empire State Building, the new code allowances are a game changer for the commercial construction industry.
CLT construction is an emerging wood style of construction proving to be a highly advantageous alternative to concrete, masonry, or steel in commercial construction. CLT panels are formed by stacking and gluing successive perpendicular layers of solid wood panels. With its multi-layer, bi-directional design, this mass timber product is dimensionally stable and has inherent load-bearing and shear strength.
Because CLT panels are arranged in an alternating wood-grain pattern, they’re an optimal choice for long-span applications. Additionally, they offer excellent thermal, seismic, fire, and acoustic performance, adding exceptional protection and dependability.
And, one of the biggest benefits of mass timber panels, as compared to other types of structures, is the ability to prefabricate the entire project. The prefabricated process translates into a shorter project duration, which ultimately lowers the cost of the project.
Here are a few other CLT facts to help you decide if mass timber is the right approach for your next project.
Naturally renewable, engineered wood products (EWP), such as Cross-Laminated Timber, can be produced using smaller, fast-growing trees that are replenished by new tree farms. In addition to sustainability, building with wood reduces carbon impacts and carbon sequestration.
Specifying CLT has a perception of being more expensive due to the upfront costs, however CLT saves money throughout the construction project. Simply put, mass timber is a faster type of construction resulting in savings that are realized through a combination of reduced labor costs, an accelerated construction schedule due to the need for fewer interior finishes, and the benefit of needing a smaller foundation, which reduces the overall cost and seismic lead.
Health Benefits and Thermal:
There’s something about the natural warmth and beauty of wood that translates into improved occupant comfort. Prefabricated factory-built mass timber solutions can improve thermal performance by delivering a precise fit that is tested and airtight. In addition, an increasing number of studies focused on wood’s biophilic qualities have linked the use of exposed wood in buildings with improved occupant well-being.
Since 2013, more than 1,000 multifamily, commercial, or institutional projects using mass timber or heavy timber have either been constructed or are in the process of design in the U.S., according to WoodWorks. Mass timber is quickly becoming an area of interest for architects, engineering, and construction professionals
As a leader in commercial wood framing, Quality Buildings is at the forefront of understanding the value of what this new building system brings to the industry. In addition to helping to educate our customers on the benefits of Cross-Laminated Timber and how this type of construction goes together, we are positioned to be a resource in identifying the vendors who deliver these types of components.