The University of British Columbia's Brock Commons is an 18-story dormitory constructed of wood and the tallest such building to date. | University of British Columbia

High-Rise Wooden Buildings May Help Make Cities More Sustainable

Tall wood construction is less carbon intensive than concrete or steel, but it will likely take a major cultural shift for builders and architects to embrace wood construction on a large scale.

Published On 06/28/2017
7:00 AM EDT
A A century ago, concrete and steel allowed cities to reach for the skies. But the materials that made possible landmarks like New York City’s Empire State and Chrysler buildings, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, or the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur also yield huge amounts of planet-warming carbon when they’re produced. Making a ton of cement also releases a ton of CO2, while steel mills yield two tons of CO2 for every ton of metal they churn out.
The Wooden Pagoda of Yingxian was built in 1056 and tops out at about 67 meters (220 feet). | Zhangzhugang/WikiMedia Commons
Architect Michael Green and Metsä Wood, a Finnish lumber company, are developing a redesign of the Empire State Building in timber. | Metsä Wood