Understanding mass timber use in construction

Author: fatweb

A survey in late 2022 of design, construction and building professionals into the perceptions and barriers to mass timber use in construction has highlighted the growing awareness and adoption of mass timber, but it also revealed that more can be done.

The survey was distributed to manufacturers, builders, architects, designers, engineers, building officials and quantity surveyors. It was commissioned by the Mid-Rise Wood Construction Programme and carried out by BRANZ.

The analysis report of the survey noted that recent years have seen a signifi ant global increase in the use of timber products within the built environment.

A major portion of this increase being attributable to engineered wood products (EWPs), from large-scale structural elements through to non-structural and decorative components used on the interior and exterior of buildings.

This includes materials such as laminated veneer lumber (LVL), cross laminated timber (CLT), plywood, particleboard, and other composite products utilizing wood as a base material.

The report concluded that there was a general impression that barriers do exist to increasing the uptake of EWPs in the New Zealand construction industry.

These barriers, as well as perceived advantages of using EWPs, manifested themselves in different ways and could be summarized into four categories: cost, availability, regulation and standards, and information/education.

Increased and thorough understanding of the environmental impacts of EWPs is also seen as necessary in order to determine the effects of including these products for building projects, particularly in light of the recently introduced climate change objectives from the Ministry for Building, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).

This combination of information and education would need to include the carbon benefits of using more timber, but also the potential detriments of manufacturing processes, treatments and adhesives used and end-of-life impacts.

The report concluded that there was a general impression that barriers do exist to increasing the uptake of EWPs in the New Zealand construction industry.

The recommendations of the report for supporting greater uptake of EWPs were to develop more data on the economic and environmental impact of using EWPs including Life Cycle Analysis, to continue to provide detailed case studies of buildings using EWPs, to provide more education on EWP’s to building sector players, the public and at tertiary level and to provide more design and product information on specific EWPs.

These suggestions are considered a starting point for developing a deeper knowledge and understanding of the potential for increased use and acceptance of EWPs across the New Zealand built environment. Two further surveys are planned for 2024 and 2026.

New Zealand’s largest mass timber office building coming to town

The crane has arrived, and piling is underway – visible signs of progress in Tauranga’s city centre on what’s set to become the country’s largest mass timber office building.

The future home of Tauranga City Council’s administration staff at 90 Devonport Road is being constructed by property development and investment company Willis Bond with construction partner LT McGuinness, in collaboration with architects Warren and Mahoney, Council, and mana whenua. Once complete, Council will lease the building from Willis Bond.

The building is leading the way in environmentally sustainable design and in addition to the use of mass timber, will feature rainwater harvesting, electric vehicle charging, and facilities that encourage active transport options.

Using engineered timber in place of more traditional concrete and steel elements will reduce embodied carbon – carbon emitted through the manufacturing, transportation, and installation of building materials and components – to its lowest possible point.

At a recent ground-breaking ceremony on site, Commissioner Bill Wasley credited the collective eff orts of everyone involved in reaching this exciting milestone.

“We’ve teamed up with some of the best in the business to lead the way in the sustainable and innovative design of this building, so we can all look forward to see it taking shape over the next two years,” he says.

“Aft er years of indecision, it’s great to see these visible signs of progress being made so our community can feel confident that we’re delivering on our commitment to transforming our city centre in a way that supports environmental sustainability, and revitalizes downtown Tauranga.

“It’s also a nod of confidence for council’s administration staff who’ve been waiting to be back under the same roof since 2014 when they had to vacate their previous home on Willow Street.

” Willis Bond managing director of Funds and Finance, Wayne Silver, says Willis Bond is committed to continuing to evolve how they develop projects to ensure they’re walking with a light carbon footprint.

“The incorporation of mass timber building components is going to become a fundamental part of our development toolkit for constructing environmentally sustainable and exceptional buildings, both now and in the future,” Wayne says.

“At over 10,000 square metres, 90 Devonport Road will be the largest mass timber office building ever built in New Zealand and will set a new standard for projects of scale that can be delivered with this environmentally sustainable methodology.

“That it will become an integral part of Tauranga’s city centre and serve the council and the community of Tauranga for years to come, is a very exciti ng prospect.

” The building is targeti ng the highest 6 Green Star – Design and As-Built NZv1.0 – Design Review Rati ng, demonstrati ng world leadership in sustainability. It also has a strong emphasis on mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge systems) and connection with the surrounding natural environment.




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