History of Wood Construction and Forest Management in B.C. (Part 1 of 5)

Via www.naturallywood.com

British Columbia (B.C.), Canada has a long history of using wood in construction. From the timber products used in the heritage buildings located in Gastown, to six-storey multi-family residential homes throughout the Province.

Even in the 1800’s, B.C. was showcasing its expertise and building up to nine storey with wood. The historical buildings of Gastown showcase innovative connections and systems using timber products. The flexible floor plans and structural integrity of the buildings are a true testament to the craftsmanship of the time period.

The forestry industry in B.C. has long since been a strong contributor to the economy and the province continues be an international leader in sustainable forest management. B.C.’s forestlands are unique among worldwide producers in that 95% are publicly owned and subject to strict forest-management laws. This is backed by a comprehensive compliance and enforcement process that involves various provincial and federal agencies.

Proposed 18-Storey UBC Wooden Tower To Be the Tallest of Its Kind in the World

Via Vancity Buzz  by Kenneth Chan

wood-building-804x600Sustainability and green design are some of the key principles of the new buildings constructed at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver Point Grey campus, but one upcoming project will stand out among the dozens of buildings recently constructed or planned.

Over the summer, the university issued an Express Of Interest for architectural firms to design a wood-based high-rise tower between 16 to 18 storeys. At a height of 53 metres, it will be the world’s tallest wooden building of its kind.

The project is the first phase of the 690-bed Brock Commons, a new student housing complex wedged along Walter Gage Road adjacent to the North Parkade and new Law Building. Its development site encompasses a small grass field, ground-level parking lots, office trailers and the aging Brock Hall Annex.

The mixed-use student housing wooden tower will include new academic space, up to 400 beds for upper year and graduate students, and student amenities – all in a floor area of 157,000 square feet.

In lieu of steel and concrete structures, tall wood buildings are built out of laminated lumber beams that are glued together under pressure. Proponents of tall wood buildings claim that while a wooden tower may appear to be a fire hazard, such structures are in fact safer than steel as charred wooden surfaces protect the structural wood underneath whereas steel structures are weakest at the points of where it supports a post. [Learn more]


July 29, 2014  Can You Build a Safe, Sustainable Skyscraper Out Of Wood?

April 22, 2014 – Wooden Skyscrapers help cool climate

April 11, 2014 – Using more wood for construction can slash global reliance on fossil fuels

June 11, 2013 – Timber Towers Could Cut the Carbon Footprint of Tall Buildings by 75 Percent

October 21, 2012 – No More ‘Soulless’ Glass Facades in Timber Architecture Boom

March 27, 2012 – Wooden 30-Storey Tall High-Rise in Vancouver

March 16, 2012 – Release of the ‘Case for Tall Wood Buildings’

Building Green & The Benefits of Wood

Building Green: Environmentally, economically & socially responsible.

naturally wood BCFF imageConcern about the world’s environment is encouraging the use of building materials and designs for structures which are more environmentally responsible, cost-efficient to operate, and are often healthier for occupants. This has led to a variety of codes, standards and rating systems to support green building implementation.

Forestry Innovation Investments prepared this fact sheet to explore these developments – including a comparison of elements of three prominent green building rating systems in North America – and to examine the benefits of wood as a sustainable building material. [Learn more]

Building Sustainably: It’s a Necessity

Via Constructing the Future – Joe Rosengarton

All industries within the design, construction, and operation of our buildings need to adopt sustainable practices to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions—ensuring a better future for us all.

Buildings generate up to 35 percent of all carbon emissions, so addressing construction and design methods to question the way that things are done is a good place to start. Although improvements have been made in recent years, there’s still progress to be made if we want to effectively mitigate against climate change. Sustainability is not a buzzword anymore; it’s a necessity. The future of our environment depends on it.

Conscientious design for a sustainable future

“The decisions that you make regarding new buildings and what you design into them are going to stay with you for a significant period of time, so it’s critical that you make the right choices,” explains Mike Singleton, Executive Director at Sustainable Buildings Canada.

“If you don’t design in sustainable features, you’re really losing an opportunity.”

For a developer who wants to construct a sustainable building, the design stage is key. If the vision for sustainability is loosened at this early stage, there often is a gradual decrease in sustainable focus as the project progresses.

A strict philosophy of sustainability must be in place, even before design is underway.

“If you want a sustainable and energy efficient building that doesn’t use a lot of water, and perhaps collects resources and puts them back into the infrastructure, you really need specialists to design it that way,” says Singleton.

Building a greener future

The building contractor has a very important part to play, being directly responsible for materials, waste management and recycling. [Learn more]

Wooden Skyscrapers help cool climate

Via Climate News Network

som-timber-tower-537x442Wooden skyscrapers could tick a number of important boxes, including making a serious contribution to cutting climate impacts. The good news is they’re already helping to do that.

US scientists have a new green solution to urban construction: chop down trees and use the wood for buildings. Good strong timber buildings – and there are plans for 30-storey skyscrapers built of wood – would save on concrete and steel, save on carbon dioxide emissions and cut the use of fossil fuel.

The argument may seem counter-intuitive: that is because a substantial component of climate change stems from changes in land use and the loss of forests. And some researchers have demonstrated that even the most mature trees, the forest giants, can go on absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

But Chadwick Oliver, a forester at the University of Yale and colleagues make the case in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry. They argue that if the world stepped up the harvest of the forests and used the wood efficiently then economies could save on fossil fuel, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and give people a reason to value the forests. [Learn more]

Using more wood for construction can slash global reliance on fossil fuels

A Yale University-led study has found that using more wood and less steel and concrete in building and bridge construction would substantially reduce global carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption.

Despite an established forest conservation theory holding that tree harvesting should be strictly minimized to prevent the loss of biodiversity and to maintain carbon storage capacity, the new study shows that sustainable management of wood resources can achieve both goals while also reducing fossil fuel burning.

The results were published in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry.

In the comprehensive study, scientists from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and the University of Washington’s College of the Environment evaluated a range of scenarios, including leaving forests untouched, burning wood for energy, and using various solid wood products for construction.

The researchers calculated that the amount of wood harvested globally each year (3.4 billion cubic meters) is equivalent to only about 20 percent of annual wood growth (17 billion cubic meters), and much of that harvest is burned inefficiently for cooking. They found that increasing the wood harvest to the equivalent of 34 percent or more of annual wood growth would have profound and positive effects:

  • Between 14 and 31 percent of global CO2 emissions could be avoided by preventing emissions related to steel and concrete; by storing CO2 in the cellulose and lignin of wood products; and other factors.
  • About 12 to 19 percent of annual global fossil fuel consumption would be saved including savings achieved because scrap wood and unsellable materials could be burned for energy, replacing fossil fuel consumption.

Wood-based construction consumes much less energy than concrete or steel construction. [Learn more]

Are white roofs more effective than green roofs?

New Study Shows White Roofs are Three Times More Effective than Green Roofs at Fighting Climate Change

by Lidija Grozdanic, 02/03/14 – INHABITAT

Green roofs offer a lot of environmental benefits – they provide additional insulation, reduce rainwater runoff, and can lower your electricity bill. However a new study suggests that roofs painted white might actually be more effective at fighting climate change. A study published in the Energy and Buildings Journal compared three types of roofs – green, black and white – and came to the conclusion that white roofs have great economic benefits, and they are also three times more effective than the other two at fighting climate change.

White-roofs-1-537x302Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of white, black and green roofs and found that white roofs are far superior in fighting climate change than the other two. While roofs painted black absorb heat and contribute to the urban heat island effect, white roofs reflect the sunlight back into the atmosphere and help cool down its lower parts. The study advises those concerned with global climate change to choose white roofs, adding to a host of other studies in the past decade that have allowed the “white roof movement” to gain momentum across the United States. However, things are not as simple as they seem. [Learn more]

Are Green Buildings Better Buildings?

are green buildings better buildings1

Via Canadian Journal of Green Building & Design

The number of buildings with green credentials is growing rapidly, and an increasing number of jurisdictions require green features in new buildings. However, in most cases these buildings are judged on their “greenness” at the time of their design, and there has been little follow-up to determine whether post-occupancy performance meets expectations. While there have been numerous isolated case studies and anecdotes, scientific studies have been limited by small samples and narrow scopes. Given the paucity of objective data, Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) set out to collect comprehensive field study data with a sample size and variety of outcomes not previously undertaken. The goal was to directly compare green and otherwise similar conventional buildings in arguably the two most important green performance categories: indoor environment quality and energy efficiency.

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Click here to view full article online in the Canadian Journal of Green Building & Design Magazine (This particular article is on page 20-22)

Ultimate Guide to Green Building

Via TLC:

  Maybe Kermit the Frog was wrong: It could be easy being green — at least when it comes to buildings.

“Green building” and “sustainable development” are the hottest terms in construction right now, but what do they mean, exactly? According to the Environmental Protection Agency Web site, green building is “the practice of creating healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenanc­e and demolition” [source: EPA]. Proponents say that green building is not only environmentally friendly, but also healthier and more cost-efficient. So what is sustainable development? The United Nations Environment Program defines it as development that ensures our use of resources and the environment but doesn’t restrict their use by future generations. [Learn more]

Energy-efficiency certification comes to multi-family homes

Via – Calgary Herald

Built Green Canada has branched out with a new plan for energy efficiency in multi-family development. Since 2003, the third-party national certification program has offered builders a rating based on the construction methods and materials used in single-family homes.

In June, Built Green Canada launched its High-Density Program, which certifies energy efficiency in wood-frame construction of residential structures three-and-a-half storeys and taller in Alberta.

“The same principles we built our single-family program on were applied to HD [high density],” says Built Green Canada executive director Jenifer Christenson.

Ratings are based on a checklist that includes use of materials such as energy efficient furnaces, air conditioners, appliances, windows, and lighting options, plus water-saving toilets, low-flow showers and faucets.

A home’s energy efficiency is rated bronze, silver, gold or platinum, which is the highest.

Built Green had a multi-storey and residential tower program in place for three years before creating its High-Density Program, which has been in a pilot phase since 2011. [Learn more]