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Engineered wood can green buildings to their core. Consider the 2012-built LCT ONE in Dornbirn, Austria.
The eight-story, timber-based structure was built to demonstrate how the building industry can reverse the environmental impacts of current construction trends.
Engineered wood, like glued laminated timber (glulam) and cross-laminated timber (CLT), provides equal structural strength and fire protection. It also offers lower environmental impacts, reduced embodied energy, and lighter foundation requirements than concrete and steel.
Engineered wood is commonly used worldwide for load-bearing elements because it will not shrink and twist, which prevents air infiltration and increases energy performance.
Timber use can shorten construction time by 50%, finds Cree GmbH, the developer and builder of the structure. LCT ONE began construction in September 2011 and was completed within a year.
The system consists of a central core, posts, and slabs. The core is the stiffening element for elevators, stairs, and chases, and it can be made of wood. However, LCT ONE used concrete to expedite the building approval process.
The exterior includes load bearing glulam posts and the curtainwall enclosure is made of wood. The floor system features hybrid wood/concrete slabs. It took five carpenters only eight days to assemble the eight floors with the walls and slabs.
To adapt the LCT ONE system to North American building codes and regulations, Cree Buildings has begun working with the San Francisco office of engineering firm Arup.
So if you knock on wood – this technology may soon help the U.S. with its sustainability goals.