wood building

Eco-friendly ‘Plyscrapers’ Are Raising the Roof

Oct. 10, 2017

Buildings made entirely from recyclable wood may be the way of the future. 

Imagine if you could construct your building in a way that would save the emissions equivalent to taking 500 gasoline cars off the road for a year.

Envision a reality when your structure inevitably breaks down by the hands of time, you could recycle all of its parts.

As for the wallet—it is cheap, durable and soon to become available to a building managed by you.

Also, one little last detail: it is made entirely out of wood.

Mass timber high-rises, coined “ply-scrapers,” use cross-laminated timber (CLT) made from cheap, sustainable softwood that glue or pin together in layers to create a super-thick plywood. The materials are bolted together in days and require less labor than traditional steel-and-concrete high-rises. One CLT manufacturer mentions that you do not need a master carpenter to put it together, stating plainly, “it literally goes together like a Lego.”

It is engineered to be stronger than concrete. It can resist earthquakes. Flammability may be your first concern for wood-based materials like this. Fortunately, CLT panels are fire-resistant, charring instead of catching on fire like lumber used commonly in log homes.

Plyscrapers are just starting to catch on. In Portland, Oregon, a 12-story tower known locally as “Framework” will debut in 2018, and will serve as a test of the unique system’s viability to keep up with building codes and standards.

And that will be the biggest hurdle: legality. While the argument for CLT-based building construction is evident from an environmental standpoint, the idea still has to overcome regulations that vary from city to city.

In 2015, the USDA awarded $3 million to two projects that won its tall wood demonstration contest, half given to the aforementioned Framework in Portland and the other to a building proposal in New York City—a planned 10-story wooden condominium slated for construction in Manhattan. But it never happened. New York City nixed the project due to regulations stating that no wooden structure can be built over six stories.

It will take an effort from both the building industry and legislators to create a new normal. The benefits of plyscrapers are undeniable, and when national building codes adapt to co-exist alongside them, the sky is the truly the limit.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Continue Reading

Sponsored Recommendations

Building Better Schools

Download this digital resource to better understand the challenges and opportunities in designing and operating educational facilities for safety, sustainability, and performance...

Tips to Keep Facility Management on Track

How do you plan to fill the knowledge gap as seasoned facility managers retire or leave for new opportunities? Learn about the latest strategies including FM tech innovations ...

The Beauty & Benefits of Biophilic Design in the Built Environment

Biophilic design is a hot trend in design, but what is it and how can building professionals incorporate these strategies for the benefits of occupants? This eHandbook offers ...

The Benefits of Migrating from Analog to DMR Two-Way Radios

Are you still using analog two-way radios? Download this white paper and discover the simple and cost-effective migration path to digital DMR radios that deliver improved audio...