This is an innovation of materials which means that timber can replace energy intensive materials such as concrete and steel. One of the most commonly referred to innovations is cross laminated timber (CLT), which has been the basis for these ‘timber towers’, however there are many other forms of this engineers wood, such as glulam or oriented strand board (OSB).
By using more timber in our built environment, we help ensure that the modern world is built without the pollution or carbon emitting materials favoured in the 20th Century. Innovation in timber, such as engineered or modified woods, help make this a reality.
What are engineered woods
Engineered woods may also be called ‘mass timber’ or ‘composite wood’, which essentially means that the wood has had its properties modified in order to give the timber added strength. These products are engineered to precise specifications, and often will be cut to measure offsite before being transported and erected at great speed.
While the process for creating these hardwoods will vary, the way these timbers are created is often by recombining either softwoods or hardwoods and using both heat, pressure and adhesives bring them back together with new attributes. By layering the wood in unique ways so that the grain of the wood runs against each other you can massively increase the strength of the timber.
Advantages of engineered woods
As these woods are being engineered, they can be designed to meet very specific performance requirements or needs, while retaining many of the advantages of solid wood. While they can still be easily reworked with ordinary tools and basic skills and sequester carbon, some engineered woods, such as CLT and glulam, are pound for pound stronger than steel.
Engineered timber can also be made from small pieces of wood, wood that has defects, or species which aren’t otherwise able to offer a commercial use. This adds additional efficiency into the timber supply chain. Offsite construction using engineered products means buildings can be completed quicker, quieter, and cleaner with minimum disturbance to communities.