This paper aims to investigate the energy saving and carbon reduction performance of cross-laminated timber residential buildings in the severe cold region of China through a computational simulation approach. The authors selected Harbin as the simulation environment, designed reference residential buildings with different storeys which were constructed using reinforced concrete (RC) and cross-laminated timber (CLT) systems, then simulated the energy performance using the commercial software IESTM and finally made comparisions between the RC and CLT buildings. The results show that the estimated energy consumption and carbon emissions for CLT buildings are 9.9% and 13.2% lower than those of RC buildings in view of life-cycle assessment. This indicates that the CLT construction system has good potential for energy saving when compared to RC in the severe cold region of China. The energy efficiency of residential buildings is closely related to the height for both RC and CLT buildings. In spite of the higher cost of materials for high-rise buildings, both RC and CLT tall residential buildings have better energy efficiency than low-rise and mid-rise buildings in the severe cold region of China.
Forests can help mitigate climate change in different ways, such as by storing carbon in forest ecosystems, and by producing a renewable supply of material and energy products. We analyse the climate implications of different scenarios for forestry, bioenergy and wood construction. We consider three main forestry scenarios for Kronoberg County in Sweden, over a 201-year period. The Business-as-usual scenario mirrors today's forestry while in the Production scenario the forest productivity is increased by 40% through more intensive forestry. In the Set-aside scenario 50% of forest land is set-aside for conservation. The Production scenario results in less net carbon dioxide emissions and cumulative radiative forcing compared to the other scenarios, after an initial period of 30–35 years during which the Set-aside scenario has less emissions. In the end of the analysed period, the Production scenario yields strong emission reductions, about ten times greater than the initial reduction in the Set-aside scenario. Also, the Set-aside scenario has higher emissions than Business-as-usual after about 80 years. Increasing the harvest level of slash and stumps results in climate benefits, due to replacement of more fossil fuel. Greatest emission reduction is achieved when biomass replaces coal, and when modular timber buildings are used. In the long run, active forestry with high harvest and efficient utilisation of biomass for replacement of carbon-intensive non-wood products and fuels provides significant climate mitigation, in contrast to setting aside forest land to store more carbon in the forest and reduce the harvest of biomass.
It is not surprising to see a rapid growth in the demand for mid- to high-rise buildings. Traditionally, these types of buildings have been dominated by steel and concrete. This trend creates a great opportunity for wood to expand its traditional single and low-rise multi-family building market to the growing mid- to high-rise building market. The significance and importance of wood construction to environmental conservation and the Canadian economy has been recognized by governments, the building industry, architects, design engineers, builders and clients. It is expected that more and more tall wood frame buildings of 6- to 8-storeys (or taller) will be constructed in Canada. Before we can push for use of wood in such applications, however, several barriers to wood success in its traditional and potential market places have to be removed. Lack of knowledge of the dynamic properties of mid- to high-rise wood and hybrid wood buildings and their responses to wind, and absence of current guidelines for wind vibration design of mid- to high-rise wood and hybrid wood buildings are examples of such barriers.
Mass timber and CLT construction offers many advantages, such as enhanced modularity, reduced construction schedules, improved thermal performance, and material sustainability. However, mass timber’s propensity to absorb moisture from the environment and the relative vapor impermeability of CLT panels introduces unique challenges when incorporated with the building enclosure. These challenges should be considered during design and construction phases to ensure long-term performance.
The VaproShield Mass Timber Building Enclosure Design Guideline covers the best practices for the design and construction of high-performance CLT wall and roof assemblies. RDH is the principal author and editor of the guide and within its capacity, we do not purport to endorse any specific material or technical matter within this guide.
Canadian Conference on Building Science and Technology
On tall wood buildings, mass timber elements including CLT, NLT, glulam, and other engineered
components absolutely need to be protected from excessive wetting during construction. This requirement precludes the use of many conventional cladding systems unless the building is fully hoarded during construction.
The building enclosure and façade of UBC Tallwood House consists of an innovative prefabricated steel stud rainscreen curtain-wall assembly that is pre-insulated, pre-clad, and has factory installed windows. Design of connections and air and water sealing of panel joints and interfaces was carefully considered given the tall wood structure they were designed to protect. While steel studs were utilized in the panelized structure, feasible curtain-wall designs were also developed and prototyped for wood-framing, CLT, and precast concrete as part of the project.
Looking ahead, there will continue to be innovation in design and construction of fast and durable facades for taller wood buildings. New prefabricated panel designs incorporating CLT panels and connection technologies from unitized curtainwall systems are already being developed for the “next tallest” wood buildings in North America.
Does it really cost more to build a high-performance building? Historically, this question has been addressed with theoretical studies based on varying the design of common building archetypes, but nothing beats the real thing. ZEBx, in partnership with BTY Group and seven builders from across BC, has completed a cost analysis of seven high-performance, wood-framed, mid-rise, multi-unit residential buildings that meet Step 4 of the Energy Step Code or the Passive House standard. The results of the study may surprise you!