This time lapse video of Brock Commons at the University of British Columbia demonstrates one of the most powerful economic advantages of mass timber construction: speed! This 18-story (17 stories of wood, plus one of concrete) building went up in less than 10 weeks. A traditional steel or concrete building typically takes 50 to 70 weeks.
The value of mass timber construction reveals itself in myriad ways: reduced interest costs on the construction loan; revenue generation many months sooner; a reduced risk of market changes during construction; fewer slowdowns and other risks from weather events during construction.
These economic advantages, combined with the fact that trees act as solar energy collectors and carbon capture and storage systems, add considerable environmental advantages to the use of wood.
Photosynthesis uses energy from the sun to combine carbon dioxide and water to make wood and give off oxygen humans and other life forms need to live. The benefits of wood also extend to energy conservation, since wood manufacturing requires relatively small amounts of fossil energy compared to steel and concrete. Many wood manufacturers use leftover material from the trees, such as bark and trimmings, to produce heat and sometimes power at their manufacturing plant. That, in turn, reduces the amount of fossil fuel, and associated air and water pollutants, generated as waste.
Wood is a renewable material that can be grown sustainably. In many markets, these environmental benefits add to the competitiveness in the marketplace for renting and selling space that has green value. Green construction, then, has both a dollar value and the environmental benefit.
The idea that our society can get a double carbon benefit, storing it in wood used to construct the building and reduced fossil fuel use, at costs comparable to conventional construction has many people excited about the possibilities.