New research is showing that wood buildings are more likely to harbor environmental microbes with beneficial health effects. This pilot project will study various surface materials in both the lab setting and occupied mass timber buildings to assess effects on occupants’ health and comfort as well as indoor air quality.
Project contact is Hongmei Gu at the Forest Products Laboratory
The FPL team is in charge of developing a full comparative LCA study for three multiple-story mass timber buildings and their concrete alternatives in the U.S. Northeast region, with Boston as the point location. Using these three comparative LCAs, this research will determine the GHG emissions reduction potential from mass timber use in the building sector for the U.S. region. This may increase potential for growth in wood utilization, timber harvest, and forest management practices through the market demands.
EBD was first developed by the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute. An EBD is a summary report of the comprehensive environmental footprint data for a building and declares life-cycle impacts according to a standardized format. It is a statement of performance and is publicly disclosed, similar to a nutrition label on a food package. The intent of the document is to present results as transparently and concisely as possible.
Athena’s EBDs are compliant with the European standard EN 15978, a whole-building LCA standard that is intended to support decision-making and documentation around the assessment of environmental performance of buildings. The Design Building would be the fourth building to be assessed as part of Athena’s EBD initiative and the first located in the United States.
The purpose of this research is to evaluate the environmental performance of various timber constructions that have been realised within intensively utilised area in recent years. The appraisal is carried out by means of life cycle assessment (LCA) and covers different timber constructions, mainly the multi-storey building. The ultimate goal is to compare their environmental performance to the outcomes of other constructions like reinforced concrete (RC) and steel construction (SC).
The environmental burdens caused by constructions are evaluated based on the framework of LCA. First, the material inventory of selected building projects is established. The scope is emphasised on the primary structural elements such as columns, beams, deck, load-bearing wall and roof. Secondary components, facility and decoration are eliminated out of the research boundary. Based on the material inventory, the impact assessment is carried out to preliminarily calculate the embodied outcome of the timber constructions. The environmental implications of structural elements during early life cycle stages are evaluated. Then, the effect of both disposal and material recycling is integrated in the LCA, including reuse or recovery of the structural wooden components. The LCA takes into account different disposal scenarios associated with construction and demolition waste (C&DW). By doing so, the LCA is the so-called ‘from cradle to gate’ and ‘gate to cradle’, without consideration upon the using phase. Among numerous environmental indictors, this research quantifies and discusses the energy consumption and global warming potential (GWP) of the timber buildings only.
The five-storey timber building located in urban context is a pioneer project in Taiwan. This building applies crosslaminated-timber (CLT) as the primary structural elements and takes over tremendous loading circumstances. It demonstrates not only the engineering feasibility of CLT for architectural design but also the utilising compatibility of wooden house in urban context.
The environmental evaluation proofs the ecological efficiency of timber buildings. In addition, this study compares the environmental performance of timber constructions and other materials. Alternative building models made of RC and steel are developed and intended for further LCA. The LCA results demonstrate that timber constructions cause significantly less impacts than RC and SC do. Timber constructions exhibit carbon sequestration effect, which is unique among three materials. Meanwhile, timber constructions consume only about 20% energy of the RC and SC. While possessing similar form and functionality, timber constructions exhibit better eco-efficiency compared to other generally used materials. When the material recycling is taken into account, the life-cycle eco-efficiency of timber structures is further significant. Wooden constructions can be energy-neutral or even energy-productive, depending on the recycling strategies.