Mass timber: Thinking big about sustainable construction
CAMBRIDGE, MA — The construction and operation of all kinds of buildings uses vast amounts of energy and natural resources. Researchers around the world have therefore been seeking ways to make buildings more efficient and less dependent on emissions-intensive materials.
Now, a project developed through an MIT class has come up with a highly energy-efficient design for a large community building that uses one of the world’s oldest construction materials. For this structure, called “the Longhouse,” massive timbers made of conventional lumber would be laminated together like a kind of supersized plywood.
The design will be presented this October at the Maine Mass Timber Conference, which is dedicated to exploring new uses of this material, which can be used to build safe, sound high-rise buildings, if building codes permit them.
John Klein, a research scientist in MIT’s architecture department who taught a workshop called Mass Timber Design that came up with the new design, explains that “in North America, we have an abundance of forest resources, and a lot of it is overgrown. There’s an effort to find ways to use forest products sustainably, and the forests are actively undergoing thinning processes to prevent forest fires and beetle infestations.”
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