As the population continues to grow in China’s urban settings, the building sector contributes to increasing levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Concrete and steel are the two most common construction materials used in China and account for 60% of the carbon emissions among all building components. Mass timber is recognized as an alternative building material to concrete and steel, characterized by better environmental performance and unique structural features. Nonetheless, research associated with mass timber buildings is still lacking in China. Quantifying the emission mitigation potentials of using mass timber in new buildings can help accelerate associated policy development and provide valuable references for developing more sustainable constructions in China. This study used a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach to compare the environmental impacts of a baseline concrete building and a functionally equivalent timber building that uses cross-laminated timber as the primary material. A cradle-to-gate LCA model was developed based on onsite interviews and surveys collected in China, existing publications, and geography-specific life cycle inventory data. The results show that the timber building achieved a 25% reduction in global warming potential compared to its concrete counterpart. The environmental performance of timber buildings can be further improved through local sourcing, enhanced logistics, and manufacturing optimizations.
This study conducted a consequential Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on two similar mid-rise apartment buildings applying either concrete or cross laminated timber (CLT) as the main structural material. The study further investigated inclusion of biogenic carbon and how this affects environmental impacts related to Global warming. Thus, two assessment scenarios were applied: A Base scenario, without accounting for biogenic carbon and a Biogenic carbon scenario that include a GWPbio factor to account for the use of biogenic carbon. The CLT building had the lowest impact score in 11 of 18 impact categories including Global warming. Operational energy use was the main contributor to the total impact with some variation across impact scores, but closely followed by impacts embodied in materials (incl. End-of-Life). An evaluation of the potential forest transformations required for fulfilling future projections for new building construction in 2060 showed that about 3% of current global forest area would be needed. This share was essentially independent of the selected building material as the main driver for forest transformation was found to be energy use during building operation. Thus, focus should primarily be on reducing deforestation related to energy generation rather than deforestation from production of building materials.
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.
This manual is helpful for experts and novices alike. Whether you’re new to mass timber or an early adopter you’ll benefit from its comprehensive summary of the most up to date resources on topics from mass timber products and applications to tall wood construction and sustainability.
The manual’s content includes WoodWorks technical papers, Think Wood continuing education articles, case studies, expert Q&As, technical guides and other helpful tools. Click through to view each individual resource or download the master resource folder for all files in one handy location. For your convenience, this book will be updated annually as mass timber product development and the market are quickly evolving.
This study on Circular Economy & the Built Environment Sector in Canada was carried out by The Delphi Group in collaboration with Scius Advisory and completed in March 2021 on behalf of Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd. (FII) in British Columbia and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) as the co-sponsors for the research. The work identifies a broad range of current efforts across Canada and undertakes a deeper dive on design for disassembly and adaptability (DfD/A) best practices, including an analysis of the ISO Standard 20887:2020 (i.e., design for disassembly and adaptability) in line with current Canadian industry practice and market readiness.
As woodworking and construction technologies improve, the construction of multi-storey timber buildings is gaining popularity worldwide. There is a need to look at the design of existing buildings and assess their sustainability. The aim of the present study is to assess the sustainability of modern high-rise timber buildings using multi-criteria assessment methods. The paper presents a hierarchical system of sustainability indicators and an assessment framework, developed by the authors. Based on this framework, the tallest timber buildings in different countries, i.e., Mjøstårnet in Norway, Brock Commons in Canada, Treet in Norway, Forte in Australia, Strandparken in Sweden and Stadthaus in UK, were compared across the three dimensions of sustainability (environmental, economic/technological, and social). Research has revealed that none of the buildings is leading in all dimensions of sustainability. However, each building is unique and has its own strengths. Overall multi-criteria assessment of the buildings revealed that the Brock Commons building in Canada has received the highest rank in all dimensions of sustainability. The paper contributes to the theory and practice of sustainability assessment and extends the knowledge about high-rise timber buildings. The proposed sustainability assessment framework can be used by both academics and practitioners for assessment of high-rise timber buildings.
Global construction industry has a huge influence on world primary energy consumption, spending, and greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions. To better understand these factors for mass timber construction, this work quantified the life cycle environmental and economic performances of a high-rise mass timber building in U.S. Pacific Northwest region through the use of life-cycle assessment (LCA) and life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA). Using the TRACI impact category method, the cradle-to-grave LCA results showed better environmental performances for the mass timber building relative to conventional concrete building, with 3153 kg CO2-eq per m2 floor area compared to 3203 CO2-eq per m2 floor area, respectively. Over 90% of GHGs emissions occur at the operational stage with a 60-year study period. The end-of-life recycling of mass timber could provide carbon offset of 364 kg CO2-eq per m2 floor that lowers the GHG emissions of the mass timber building to a total 12% lower GHGs emissions than concrete building. The LCCA results showed that mass timber building had total life cycle cost of $3976 per m2 floor area that was 9.6% higher than concrete building, driven mainly by upfront construction costs related to the mass timber material. Uncertainty analysis of mass timber product pricing provided a pathway for builders to make mass timber buildings cost competitive. The integration of LCA and LCCA on mass timber building study can contribute more information to the decision makers such as building developers and policymakers.
Low-carbon buildings and construction products can play a key role in creating a low-carbon society. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is proposed as a prime example of innovative building products, revolutionising the use of timber in multi-storey construction. Therefore, an understanding of the synergy between structural engineering design solutions and climate impact of CLT is essential. In this study, the carbon footprint of a CLT multi-storey building is analysed in a life cycle perspective and strategies to optimise this are explored through a synergy approach, which integrates knowledge from optimised CLT utilisation, connections in CLT assemblies, risk management in building service-life and life cycle analysis. The study is based on emerging results in a multi-disciplinary research project to improve the competitiveness of CLT-based building systems through optimised structural engineering design and reduced climate impact. The impacts associated with material production, construction, service-life and end-of-life stages are analysed using a process-based life cycle analysis approach. The consequences of CLT panels and connection configurations are explored in the production and construction stages, the implications of plausible replacement scenarios are analysed during the service-life stage, and in the end-of-life stage the impacts of connection configuration for post-use material recovery and carbon footprint are analysed. The analyses show that a reduction of up to 43% in the life cycle carbon footprint can be achieved when employing the synergy approach. This study demonstrates the significance of the synergy between structural engineering design solutions and carbon footprint in CLT buildings.
Timber-concrete composite (TCC) ceilings build on the idea of making use of the advantageous properties of both materials symbiotically. While concrete, as the upper layer, is used to absorb the compression forces, wood is used in the lower layer to absorb the tensile forces. Many systems have been developed with special attention paid to solutions with both a continuous concrete and wood layer. This article introduces a new system developed with the primary focus set on the most efficient material use by introducing a free space between the concrete and the wood layer using special vault shaped moldings. The first part of the paper contains an introduction including a short overview of different embodiments of TCC floor systems. The second part focuses on the design of the new system and gives an overview of the estimated structural performance. In the third part the environmental performance of the new system is discussed in comparison to chosen existing systems focusing at the the whole life-cycle including a re-use (A-D).
The objective of this paper was to quantify and compare the environmental impacts associated with alternative designs of typical North American low and mid-rise buildings. Two scenarios were considered: a traditional structural steel frame or an all-wood mass timber design, utilizing engineered wood products for both gravity and lateral load resistance. The boundary of the quantitative analysis was cradle-to-grave with considerations taken to discuss end-of-life and material reuse scenarios. The TRACI methodology was followed to conduct a Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) analysis that translates building quantities to environmental impact indicators using the Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings Life Cycle analysis software tool and Athena’s Life Cycle Inventory database. The results of the analysis show that mass timber buildings have an advantage with respect to several environmental impact categories, including eutrophication potential, human health particulate, and global warming potential where a 31% to 41% reduction was found from mass timber to steel designs, neglecting potential carbon sequestration benefits from the timber products. However, it was also found that the steel buildings have a lower impact with respect to the environmental impact categories of smog potential, acidification potential, and ozone depletion potential, where a 48% to 58% reduction was found from the steel to the mass timber building designs.