Falling for Dead Wood
Posted by Machines Italia Canada | 26 Jun 2012
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There are millions of hectares of mountain pine beetle-infected wood in Canada. Most trees will rot where they fall, as there isn't enough demand for all the material. Yet there is a technology that could put this wood to use: cross laminated timber, or CLT. In Italy companies are manufacturing and allocating a lot of the stuff, for example using it to rebuild 4,000 houses since 2009, when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the country's L'Aquila province.
The Timber Machinery Alliance is a consortium of equipment manufacturers, making the various tools needed to turn little pieces of wood into massive CLT panels. Corporate Knights saw the booth, courtesy of Machines Italia, at the massive Milan trade show, XylEXPO.
There are five complete CLT factories in northern Italy churning out custom panels and companies are advertising complete houses on television. In all of Canada, with almost inexhaustible supplies of renewable wood, there are only two such factories.
CLT has so many advantages over current construction techniques; it uses a renewable resource, it can be carbon positive (sequestering more carbon dioxide in the wood than is generated in making it), and it is earthquake and fire resistant. In the United Kingdom, Waugh Thistleton Architects constructed a nine-storey apartment building out of the material using only four workers and in less than one month.
The real wonder of CLT is why Canadian builders have not seen the benefits. We have the wood, we have a lumber industry in turmoil, and we have the need to build more energy efficient buildings. Just two million euros and the stuff can be squeezed out like toothpaste from a tube, ready to assemble. It's about time Canada did more of this.
You can read more work by Lloyd Alter here.