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  • Writer's pictureBritney Heerten

Wood Construction in Commercial Buildings

Updated: Jun 5

I have seen more commercial wood buildings being built than ever before so I decided to look into the reasoning behind this.

ArchDaily mentions in their article, Putting Wood to Work: 7 Benefits of Using Timber in Commercial and Industrial Design, that using wood in commercial buildings gives them a feeling of warmth not usually found in this type of building. The article goes on to say that this is a "modern-day revival of the century-old timber post-and-beam buildings of the past." Maybe it's the longing for the warm comforting feeling that wood provides or maybe it's the feeling of nostalgia and a longing for the way things used to be that draws so many to build with timber these days.

Types of Modified Wood:

Cross-laminated timber is more effective at resisting fire and has a substantial load-bearing capacity. This type of timber has been used in Europe and Canada for buildings as tall as 14-18 stories. This type of timber also experiences less shrinkage than regular timber.

Glued laminate timber has structural properties that allows it to be load-bearing. There is also dowel-laminated and nail-laminated timber.

Some reasons why someone might choose wood:

The price of wood has dropped almost back to pre-pandemic prices, making it more affordable to construct with wood.

Wood is also an excellent material to use for seismic codes. Wood is more energy efficient than steel or concrete. You can have higher ceilings with wood.

This list of advantages and disadvantages is from:

Advantages of CLT:

  • Sustainable

  • Easier onsite delivery

  • Faster installation

  • A cleaner, drier construction site

  • No specialized construction experience needed

  • Less expensive foundation (due to lighter weight)

  • Reduced waste

  • Fire-resistant wood construction

  • Better thermal properties

  • Reduces onsite labor by up to 50%

  • Increases project schedule by up to 25%

Disadvantages of CLT:

  • CLT is more expensive than steel or concreteX

  • Code restrictions on timber building heights

  • Costs of electrical, plumbing and other services can increase (no wall cavities)

  • There can be higher architectural/design costs

  • A higher material transportation cost (relatively few manufacturing plants)

  • Less long-term flexibility (think future renovations)

University of British Columbia’s Brock Commons Building

This is an 18-story building with 17 stories of wood on top of 1 concrete level.

Alexandra District Energy Utility

This building is made from local cross-laminated timber panels. This project is the largest ambient heating and cooling district energy system in North America. Energy conservation and sustainability are embodied in the building as a whole.

Mjøstårnet The Tower of Lake Mjøsa / Voll Arkitekter

This Brumunddal, Norway apartment complex is 18 stories and is currently the highest wooden building in the world. Brumunddal and surrounding areas are known for their forestry and timber production, making this the ideal place to construct a facility such as this. The building consists of around 14,000 trees.

Other Rescources:

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