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Sustainable Wood

Sustainable Wood: Can Wood Building Material Help In The Fight Against Climate Change?


The Washington Post recently posted a video. This video demonstrates how sustainable wood buildings are green. They are better for the environment than their counterparts made of other materials, such as steel and concrete. Steel and concrete construction contributes to greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. The processes companies utilize to make steel and concrete are not sustainable. These processes cause harm to our environment. We are already at a tipping point when it comes to climate change. We need better, more sustainable options.


Wood is a greener building material. However, up until recently there were not options for building strong, tall buildings from wood. That all changed in the U.S. with a company called Katerra. Katerra describes themselves as “a technology-driven offsite construction company.” Katerra was founded in 2015 by Michael Marks, former CEO of Flextronics and former Tesla interim CEO, along with Fritz Wolff, the executive chairman of The Wolff Co. Katerra opened the biggest cross-laminated timber factory in all of North America in 2019 near Spokane, Washington. At Katerra they make huge panels of wood by gluing small pieces of wood together. This is not a new concept, but they have brought the idea into modern times. They use a huge press to lay pieces of wood in one direction over wood facing another direction. This makes the panel very strong, like concrete.


Is Sustainable Wood Safe?


Critics worry about fire and mass timber. This is a misconception. After computer modeling and field testing the mass timber buildings did not burn. In fact, the fire eventually extinguished itself in the building. Mass timber buildings (up to 180 feet high) are a safe building option.

Wood is a renewable resource, unlike steel and concrete. Wood captures carbon. It releases less greenhouse gas, and is beautiful. Builders and architects with an interest in sustainability agree that wood is a great building material. 




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