There’s a lot of talk about the building materials of the future, as technology makes all sorts of hybrid and nano-materials (which can be made of wood, too) stronger, cheaper and more accessible than ever. But for all of those advancements, one of the world’s most ancient building materials remains at the top of the list: wood. Popular Science features an in-depth examination of why wood is the most advanced building material of them all – and how it’s going to transform city skylines around the globe.
The biggest step forward is the development of CLT, or cross-laminated timber. This isn’t some kind of plasticized or artificial wood product; it’s simply parallel strips of wood that are placed atop each other perpendicularly and then glued together to create enormous panels with steel-like strength.
CLT is cheaper, easier to assemble and more fire-resistant than steel and concrete. In an age of heightened environmental awareness, it’s also more desirable for the fact that wood is renewable and acts as a carbon sink. The strength of CLT beams make it possible to build wood structures taller than ever before, and many countries are changing their building codes as a result.
Much of the CLT that’s currently produced comes from sustainable forests, and a good percentage is made of beetle-damaged pine. Pine bark beetles are the single biggest threat to pine forests, but CLT ensures that the trees affected by this scourge aren’t lost. That makes it an ideal way to get a practical and lucrative use out of what might otherwise be considered a waste material.
Image via: greenspec