Can mass timber reform construction’s carbon footprint?

July 11, 2019 by  
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A new technique for building wooden mid- and high-rise buildings may unlock a critical strategy for reducing the construction industry’s massive carbon footprint. Although forestry, construction and climate experts disagree on the extent of its benefits, mass timber is a promising substitute for concrete and steel, materials that contribute 5 percent of global carbon emissions each. Buildings in general are responsible for 40 percent of all emissions and architects are calling this new green building technique “the next great disruption to the construction industry.” What is mass timber? In order to be considered ‘mass timber,’ buildings must use wood products (typically engineered panels) as the primary load-bearing structure. More than just wood-framed houses, mass timber is a more extensive building style that can be used for mid- and high-rise buildings. Builders can use a variety of woods, often from small trees, to create a strong structure where the wood grain is stacked perpendicularly to further fortify the building. Because of its versatility in terms of wood types, mass timber projects can be sourced sustainably by capitalizing on small and diseased trees that are cleared to manage forests and prevent wildfires. It also means that sourcing can be localized to further reduce carbon emissions during transportation. Although deforestation is a major concern around the world, forests in the United States are sustainably managed . A collaboration between the mass timber and sustainable forestry industries has the potential to support this budding construction industry niche with profound implications for fighting climate change. The benefits of mass timber The primary benefit of using wood instead of concrete and steel is the reduction in carbon emissions. Since concrete and steel emit greenhouse gases during production and transportation, it is believed that using locally sourced wood will reduce the overall carbon footprint of the building’s construction. In addition to a lower emission profile, wooden panels, posts and beams also sequester carbon . The wooden panels are lighter and stronger than steel and potentially could be made to be fireproof. Wooden interiors are naturally warming, so they also encourage energy efficiency and reduce heating bills. With rising popularity, especially in Europe and the northwestern U.S., the wooden interiors are also increasingly sought after as an aesthetically pleasing and trendy look. “Say the typical steel and concrete building has an emissions profile of 2,000 metric tons of CO2; with mass timber, you can easily invert so you are sequestering 2,000 tons of CO2,” architect Andrew Ruff said. “Instead of adding to climate change, you are mitigating climate change . That’s the goal.” Related: NYC passes landmark bill to cut carbon emissions of big buildings by 80% Furthermore, the construction process has multiple benefits when compared to traditional concrete and steel. For example, the construction process itself is quicker and quieter (making for happy neighbors during construction!), and the materials are less sensitive to weather fluctuations during building. “Mass timber is the future,” said Russ Vaagen , a fourth generation lumberman in Washington. “It has a lighter carbon footprint ; is at least 25 percent faster to build with and requires 75 percent fewer workers on the active deck; comes from forests that are renewable and that, in many cases, need thinning to reduce the danger of wildfire and disease; holds great promise as affordable housing; and even increases homeowners’ health and well-being, according to several studies of wood’s biophilic attributes.” Is mass timber just a passing trend? Not everyone is sold on mass timber’s benefits, or at least the extent to which this technique can impact climate change. Its trendiness has re-opened sawmills in Oregon and sent loggers back to work, but is it really all that it is cracked up to be? “We want to debunk the myth that mass timber is in any way, shape or form related to some kind of environmental benefit,” said John Talberth, president of the Center for Sustainable Economy in Portland. Related: 5 key benefits of green buildings on the environment and your lifestyle Most researchers agree that there is simply not enough data to make such large claims about the benefits of mass timber — nor enough data to prove it false. For example, the carbon sequestration calculations need to take into account the transportation, manufacturing and logging of all wood materials when making comparisons to concrete and steel emissions. According to a recent paper on forestry and climate mitigation, the forest product industry is Oregon’s No. 1 contributor of carbon emissions, so it is not exactly a clean industry. Furthermore, the wooden beams would need to be reused beyond the predicted life of the building itself in order for the carbon sequestration benefits to be realized, because the decomposition of wood also emits carbon dioxide . Mark Wishnie of The Nature Conservancy explained, “To really understand the potential impact of the increased use of mass timber on climate, we need to conduct a much more detailed set of analyses.” Living up to sustainability promises Forestry experts contend that the rapid growth in popularity of the mass timber industry must be married with sustainable forestry initiatives, such as certification standards, to ensure that the harvest, manufacturing and transportation processes are environmentally friendly, transparent and included in more accurate cost-benefit analyses. Major environmental advocates, including the Audubon Society and Sierra Club, wrote a letter of concern to government representatives in Oregon, expressing doubts and recommending more cautious support. The letter also explicitly endorsed the need for certification standards. The letter said, “Without such a requirement, the city may be encouraging the already rampant clear-cutting of Oregon’s forests … In fact, because it can utilize smaller material than traditional timber construction, it may provide a perverse incentive to shorten logging rotations and more aggressively clear-cut.” Via Yale Environment 360 Images via Shutterstock

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Can mass timber reform construction’s carbon footprint?

Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

July 11, 2019 by  
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Airbnb has any number of unique properties, but this luxurious cottage in an idyllic French village looks scrumptious enough to eat. Perhaps that’s because the luxury tiny home rental, now listed on Airbnb , was once an ancient bread cottage. Owner James Roeves and his wife renovated the old building with the utmost of care, recycling and incorporating reclaimed materials whenever possible to convert the structure into a boutique retreat. Located east of Toulouse, Vallée de Gijou is tucked into the region’s Haut Languedoc Park, an idyllic area comprised of rolling hills and lush forests. The area is perfect for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life while enjoying an authentic French agritourism experience . Related: This tiny Victorian cottage on a wildflower meadow belongs in a fairytale Formerly a structure used for its bread oven, the compact cottage has been renovated carefully to update its living space while retaining the structure’s original features. According to the owner, James Roeves, he and his wife renovated the structure, doing most of the work themselves. From the start of the adaptive reuse renovation, the project was focused on reclaiming as many materials from the original structure as possible. In the end, the bed, window sills, sideboards, shutters, bedroom floor tiles, wardrobe and front walls were all part of the original building. However, to bring the cottage into the 21st century, the process also required some modern touches. To keep the interior warm and cozy during the winter months, the structure is tightly insulated , and the windows are double-glazed to reduce heating costs. A bright, modern kitchen has all of the amenities a home chef could need. Beyond the kitchen, a comfortable living room features a sofa and chair along with a flat-screen television. This space also includes a small table that was made out of recovered wood planks . At the heart of the living area is a wood-burning Esse Bakeheart that has its own oven, a cooking plate and a grill that slides into the firebox for char-grilling. Of course, for those guests who prefer to leave their oven mitts at home, the owners are former restaurateurs who are happy to provide full catering prepared with fresh local produce. The rest of the home is just as lovely, with a spiral staircase leading up to a spacious bedroom. A queen-sized bed sits in the middle of the room, which has a spacious vaulted ceiling with exposed wooden beams for an extra dose of charm. + Converted Bread Oven Tiny Home Via Tiny House Talk Images via James Roeves

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Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

France announces eco tax on plane tickets

July 11, 2019 by  
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The French government announced that it will roll out a tax on all international flights departing from France starting in 2020. The small tax will generate a predicted $200 million USD in revenue every year that the government will invest into cleaner transportation technology and infrastructure. Depending on the cost of the flight, the tax could cost anywhere from $1.70 to $20 USD per ticket. The eco tax will not apply to domestic flights within France nor flights arriving in the country from international origins. It will also exclude flights traveling to overseas territories still under French rule. A spokesperson from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) dismissed the utility of the tax, stating, “National taxes will do nothing to assist the aviation industry in its sustainability efforts.” Instead, the spokesperson, Anthony Concil, recommended national governments should help airline corporations invest in cleaner fuels and more advanced technology . In fact, shares in AirFrance, Ryan Air and EasyJet all went down after the announcement was made. Related: Airplanes’ contrail clouds are more harmful than their carbon emissions On the other side of the coin, environmental activists are somewhat content that the announcement is at least a step in the right direction and a nod to the role the transportation industry will have to play. According to Andrew Murphy from Brussels-based Transport and Environment, “This alone won’t do much, but at least it’s a recognition by the French government that more is required.” Germany, Italy and England already have similar eco taxes. In England, the additional fee can be up to $214 USD, and it generates a total of $3.7 billion USD annually. Other European countries are also looking to reverse a longstanding tax break for airline fuel that effectively subsidizes the industry’s use of fossil fuels and misses a significant opportunity for government tax revenue. Via AP News Image via BriYYZ

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Counterpoise is an elegantly balanced plywood chair

March 7, 2016 by  
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Counterpoise is a plywood chair whose shape embodies the idea of interplay: it is comprised of two wooden parts that balance each other. Taken separately, each part would be unsteady, but taken together they function as a steady-state system. Counterpoise is reduced to two fundamental elements for a chair: the seat and the backrest. The design process started on the base of fluid form language and developed an intuitive final shape that dialogues with the human body. The lines of the wooden parts were dictated by the human proportions and ergonomics principles. The results is a chair that is both sumptuously tactile and elegantly technical. + Counterpoise

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Counterpoise is an elegantly balanced plywood chair

BMW’s crazy shape-shifting future car is straight out of a science fiction movie

March 7, 2016 by  
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PaperSpokes’ timber bicycle crates are a stylish and functional addition to any bicycle

March 7, 2016 by  
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If you’re looking for a stylish and functional bicycle basket, you’ll love PaperSpokes’ new timber bike crates. Made from locally sourced wood , the weatherproof crates are not only beautiful, but are also very functional as well. The durable crates are easy to install and remove, and come equipped with reflective shock cords for visibility at night. PaperSpokes has developed two models—the larger ZIGZAG and more compact SPOTTY—and are offering them for an early bird rate of €85 each on their Indiegogo campaign . + PaperSpokes Indiegogo Campaign The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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PaperSpokes’ timber bicycle crates are a stylish and functional addition to any bicycle

Artist builds a life-size wood replica of a London Underground station

September 29, 2015 by  
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Autoban Unveils Futuristic Wooden Cocoons for Azerbaijan’s Baku Airport

July 29, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Autoban Unveils Futuristic Wooden Cocoons for Azerbaijan’s Baku Airport Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: arup , Autoban , Azerbaijan , Baku airport , futuristic airport , Heydar Aliyev International Airport , human scale , turkish design , wooden pods

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Autoban Unveils Futuristic Wooden Cocoons for Azerbaijan’s Baku Airport

ViVood: Tiny Pop-Up Wooden Home From Spain Comes With Built-in Solar Panels

April 11, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of ViVood: Tiny Pop-Up Wooden Home From Spain Comes With Built-in Solar Panels Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , Architecture , Daniel Mayo Pardo , Daylighting , green materials , Pop-Up Wooden Home , prefab home , Prefab Housing , Solar Power , spanish design , tiny home , tiny homes , ViVood

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ViVood: Tiny Pop-Up Wooden Home From Spain Comes With Built-in Solar Panels

Japanese Shipwright Sueshiro Sano Creates Stunning Wooden Bicycles

October 29, 2013 by  
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Tokyo-based Sueshiro Sano comes from a long legacy of shipwrights – however he’s using his skills to design and produce beautiful bespoke wooden bicycles . Sano’s bicycles are crafted from Honduran mahogany , and their carefully carved frames do double duty as functional works of art. Read the rest of Japanese Shipwright Sueshiro Sano Creates Stunning Wooden Bicycles Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bike design , eco design , environmentally friendly design , green transport , mahogany wood , shipbuilding , Sueshiro Sano , sustainable design , wood designs , wooden bicycle        

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