#DitchThePodium: Why Mass Timber is Optimal for Sustainable Building

3 Min. Read
Mid-size mass timber building

11 E. Lenox

The incentive and demand for more sustainable, eco-friendly buildings has increased significantly over the last decade. LEED, the world’s leading rating system for green buildings, issued over 69,000 building certifications in 2019. That is quite a dramatic increase from a mere 296 in 2006

Such rapid change within the industry may seem daunting to those used to traditional building methods. However, sustainable construction often results in greater efficiency and less complexity than one might expect. Sustainable construction is not a complete overhaul of traditional building methods. In fact, it is largely the result of simple yet effective innovations and improvement upon older methods. Mass Timber is a great example of this. Its emergence has given us new and more sustainable ways to use a building material that has been around for ages.  Wood is inherently valuable because it is renewable and can offset carbon emissions. New ways to use and produce it make it more versatile, and, thus, more valuable. Mass Timber is more than just a means to an end. It is rather ideal to use for any safe, efficient, and sustainable construction project. 

What Makes Mass Timber So Sustainable?

The raw material used to make Mass Timber is sourced sustainably. You may wonder how that is so, seeing as deforestation is a very real problem. However, Mass Timber does not come from old-growth or second-growth forests, which tend to be more prone to ecological disruption. Rather, the wood used to create mass timber beams come from new-growth forests with surplus timber that are carefully maintained and restored. Often, the surplus timber will come from trees that have fallen naturally and must be cleared from the forest floor as a precaution against forest fires. We use timber that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC.) The FSC vets sustainable forest management practices. 

In production, harvested pieces of softwood are engineered into massive slabs of wood that are more structurally sound and more fire-resistant than the traditional stick frame slabs. These features make it so that Mass Timber frames are durable and made to last for a long time. In addition, because Mass Timber slabs are premade, they make the construction process much quicker and less wasteful. The end result is a material more eco-friendly and cost-effective than alternatives such as steel and concrete. Finally, since wood doubles as a carbon sink, it reduces the amount of embodied carbon associated with any given wood-frame project. This is especially true of Mass Timber projects, since they use timber for a bulk of the frame and foundation and rely less on other materials.

Our First Mass Timber Project

In an effort to utilize the amazing perks of mass timber, Haycon has taken on a new project that uses cross-laminated timber, a subset of mass timber. Pictured above, the 11 E. Lenox project located in Roxbury, Massachusetts will be a 7-story multifamily project, designed and built to Passive House standards in collaboration with Monte French Design StudioBoston Real Estate CollaborativePassive to PositiveCode Red Consultants, and D2 Development. The use of mass timber will allow the building to exceed the height restrictions that would be imposed on a stick-frame project with the same design. It also removes the need for a podium or fireproofing. These unique features will amount to a beautiful new building that is sturdy, fire-resistant, cost-effective, and low in energy usage!

Haycon is very excited to take on this new project and others like it in the future! This is yet another one of our efforts to create spaces that encourage the health and well-being of our environment and ourselves.

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