Benefits are more than just the push to meet net-zero carbon goals, JLL reported.
Buildings made from timber have long been billed as a route to addressing the real estate industry’s net-zero carbon emission goals.
Recent developments suggest the pace is picking up, with projects becoming more ambitious, according to a recent post by JLL. It points to the example of a six-story academic building in Singapore being constructed with mass engineered timber. When completed next year, it will be one of Asia’s largest wooden buildings.
A recently completed 20-story timber cultural center and hotel in Swedish eco-town Skellefteå is primarily made of glued laminated timber (glulam) and cross-laminated timber, and can withstand a higher load-bearing capacity than both steel and concrete, while offering plenty of environmental benefits, JLL also notes.
In the US, a 25-story apartment building in downtown Milwaukee called Ascent will take the title of the world’s tallest hybrid mass timber building when it opens in July 2022.
Potential Blueprint for Greener RE Construction
“The rise in the use of engineered timber products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) is driven by two factors—the desire to decrease the cost of construction and the necessity of making the projects we build more ecologically sustainable,” Adrian Washington, CEO & Founder Neighborhood Development Company, tells GlobeSt.
“On the cost side, timber buildings can produce significant savings on material used, time to construct, and the amount of labor needed on site. In terms of sustainability, timber buildings reduce the need for cutting down new trees, create less scrap loss, and perform better on almost any measure of thermal efficiency.”
Avoiding Carbon-Intensive Steel and Concrete
Major real estate developers are leading the charge in lowering the carbon footprint of buildings.
“On top of managing their operational efficiencies, developers have been finding ways to design and construct in a more sustainable manner, such as avoiding carbon-intensive materials like steel or concrete,” said JLL’s Sam McCrea, Solutions Lead, Energy & Sustainability Services, Asia Pacific during the Future of Sustainable Spaces panel discussion.
Truss structures—those crisscross arrays of diagonal struts used throughout modern construction, in everything from antenna towers to support beams for large buildings—are typically made of steel or wood or a combination of both.
But one of the main stumbling blocks has been the lack of access to affordable sustainable materials, which requires a coordinated effort between different stakeholders, JLL reported.
Building partnerships with sustainable suppliers—supported by investments from the private sector, the construction industry and governments—will make the use of sustainable building materials commercially viable and more accessible to everyone, says McCrea.
“People don’t realize that the overall cost of the project can drop if you use the right materials,” says Parag Shinde, Group Energy and Sustainability Manager, Property NSW, during the Future of Sustainable Spaces panel.