Thursday, January 15, 2015
Why we should build wooden skyscrapers by Michael Green
Michael Green has built buildings of different sizes using various materials during his life in New York and Vancouver. But, the only material he truly loves is wood. From all the buildings he has been into, he only saw people hugging wooden columns and maybe the reason is that wood impresses people. Michael says that there are very tall forests in the world, that reach heights of 40 story buildings, but there are no wooden buildings that exceed 4 stories.
In the near future, the percentage of people living in cities will grow from the current 50 percent to 75 percent. This means that more than 3 billion people will need a new home in the next 20 years. Tall buildings will continue to be built and buildings will become taller and taller. Concrete and steel are great materials, but these materials have a very low green contribution percentage and the industry that makes them is the main pollution source in the world, followed by the ways the materials are transported.
There is a need for new ways in the construction industry and Michael Green thinks wood is the next big thing. There are valid reasons for this, as wood is the only material that comes already grown by the power of the sun. By using it for constructions, the carbon dioxide normally eliminated when a tree dies is kept inside the wood and this can be good for the environment.
While there are many things adopting wood as its primary composition, like wooden play kitchens for children or even the utensils we eat with, wooden structures are slow to adopt on a large scale. The first steps to use wood for skyscrapers are these: starting to use less concrete and steel and building wooden structures that are up to 30 stories high. There are new products for construction right now called timber panels and they are huge: 8 feet wide and 64 feet long. Until now, wooden constructions have been built using two-by-four types of panels.
The primary concern for new wooden buildings is the probability of fires. The truth is timber panels don't lighten up that easy and these buildings can be made to be as safe as concrete and steel constructions. Another concern is the deforestation that could be involved. Different strategies can be used to minimize it. A revolution happens in the construction business right now and wood may be the big thing of the next century. Michael Green has already started to construct high wooden buildings and things go in the right direction.