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When you imagine the skylines of the future, you probably picture a scene out of The Jetsons or Star Wars. In reality though, our future skyscrapers may actually be made of out of something familiar: wood. As in, the stuff you force together with primitive hammers and nails.

The University of British Columbia is already working on one. When completed, the 18-storey mass wood building will be the tallest structure of its kind in the world. And even though you might see this kind of construction as a step backwards, there are actually many perks for making the switch to lumber.

Wood building
UBC

For one, wood is a renewable resource, so there’s that. But UBC also reports that the construction is expected to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 500 tonnes. Additionally, wood actually absorbs carbon just like a forest does, meaning the building will help clean the air. How cool is that?

We know what you’re thinking though: what about fire safety?

“The mass wood structure is encapsulated with multiple layers of gypsum board to achieve required fire resistance ratings and to facilitate the approvals process,” a report from UBC reads. “Since the building is comprised of a series of repetitive, highly compartmentalized units, it is extremely likely that a fire event would be contained in the compartment in which it originated.”

Of course, the building is also outfitted with automated sprinklers for maximum safety.

The mass wood building will be discussed at this week’s Globe Conference on sustainability, as countries look for new ways to build environmentally friendly structures. Although the CBC reports that mass wood construction is already taking off around the world in places like Japan, Australia and “all over Europe.”

Now that’s some serious wood.

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