Case Study delivers insights on low carbon building

Friday 10 Dec 2021

Building with engineered wood instead of concrete and steel offers a significant win for the environment, a new case study revealed. The study used Clearwater Quays apartments in Christchurch as its test case.

Clearwater Quays is being constructed as a part of Mid-Rise Wood Construction, a public-private programme encouraging the use of New Zealand-engineered timber in mid-rise, prefabricated buildings.

“Calculations show that using wood in place of concrete and steel to build this five-storey building is removing over a million kilograms of carbon dioxide from the environment,” says Barry Lynch, director of Logic Group, and Eoin McLoughlin, senior quantity surveyor for the Clearwater project.

Mr Lynch says carbon calculations for the Clearwater building show its timber construction saved 87,400kg of carbon dioxide (CO2), compared with a CO2 release of 952,600kg if it had been built of concrete, and 794,600kg if built of steel and concrete.

The NZ$3.37m price to design, develop and construct the apartment block would have been NZ$3.89m for concrete construction or NZ$3.59m for steel and concrete. The calculations include financial impacts of construction time and cover the structure, foundations and any aspects that vary based on material choice such as fire and acoustic measures.

“As well as the obvious environmental benefits, the use of offsite manufactured mass timber components is making the Clearwater building quicker and less costly to construct,” says Mr Lynch. “The Clearwater project is supported by MPI as this construction method fits well with the Government’s climate change mitigation targets and forest industry development strategy.”

The Clearwater case study is now available for construction professionals. The project has been deliberately designed to be open source, with all project information being made available to showcase the advantages of the new building materials and methods.

The Clearwater demonstration building is part of the ‘Mid-Rise Wood Construction’ partnership between Red Stag and the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). The programme aims to accelerate and increase the use of mass timber and prefabrication in a range of public and commercial building types.

Programme projections suggest if engineered timber is widely adopted, this construction method could save the country NZ$330m annually by 2036.

More details, including the Clearwater case study and regular updates are available here.

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