Zero-carbon timber apartments cheaper to build

Friday 19 Nov 2021

Building a luxury apartment block from timber rather than concrete has kept more than a million kilograms of carbon dioxide out of the environment, a study has found. The timber also made the building cheaper and quicker to construct. Clearwater Quays is a five-storey apartment building nearing completion at Clearwater Resort in Christchurch, New Zealand.

It has been chosen as a test case to illustrate how engineered timber construction compares with concrete and steel. The test case is part of a public-private programme, called Mid-Rise Wood Construction, encouraging the use of New Zealand-engineered timber in mid-rise, prefabricated buildings.

The NZ$6.75 million programme – launched in 2018 by industry groups and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) – estimates the construction method could earn the country NZ$330m annually by 2036. It calculates that the low-carbon construction at the Clearwater Quays block has been more than offset by the amount of carbon held in the timber. This has resulted in a zero-carbon building.

Phil Tomkins, the onsite construction manager for the project, said the construction industry and property developers were “looking for leadership” on reducing carbon. “There’s a tsunami of change coming in the industry. People are thinking, ‘what are we doing about climate change?’ There’s a really huge wave to look for alternatives to concrete and steel. We grow all this timber ourselves in New Zealand.”

Tomkins said the building will go up two-and-a-half months faster than with traditional apartment construction methods. Clearwater Quays uses a combination of laminated veneer lumber structural frames and curved glulam (glued laminated timber), and timber frame wall panels. A second building using the same construction method is planned alongside.

“We used to see two or three-storey timber buildings. Now it is eight or 10 or 12. These materials have been around for decades. But this has only taken off in the last two or three years.”

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Source: Stuff

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