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What is the most technologically advanced building material used today?

Posted on April 09, 2013 by RedBuilt

Wood…that’s right, wood!Red-I 001 In addition to being a strong, light-weight building material, wood is the only traditional building material that is renewable.  It also sequesters carbon, helping keep greenhouse gases in check. Architect Michael Green, who is pioneering and promoting the use of wood for skyscrapers up to 30 stories tall, calls wood “the most technologically advanced building material in the world.” Green explained to Lloyd Alter with how “he wonders why sticking solar panels on the roof of a concrete or steel building are considered green when the actual building is made of materials that are not.” When Michael Green shared his love for wood with, he explained that, “For the last century, tall buildings have been crafted of steel and concrete – but the greenhouse gas emissions of these materials are huge.  As Green notes, 3% of world’s energy goes into the making of steel and 5% goes into the making of concrete.  While most people think of transportation as the main villain when it comes to CO2 emissions, building is actually the true top offender – accounting for 47% of CO2 emissions.  When this is taken into consideration, the fact that Building with 1 cubic meter of wood stores 1 ton of CO2” makes a compelling argument for the use of wood. Green also talked about sustainable forestry and shares that, “enough wood is grown in North America every 13 minutes (to construct) a 20 story building.” The following formula is used to calculate a product’s carbon footprint: Manufacturing Carbon – Bio Fuel – Carbon Storage – Substitution = Total Carbon Footprint or Carbon Credit.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture published the article, “Carbon Impacts Of Wood Products.”  When wood is burned for energy, the carbon footprint of the energy used is considered carbon neutral.  “The carbon dioxide released when this wood is burning was recently absorbed from the atmosphere by the growing tree during photosynthesis.”  “Carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed from the atmosphere during photosynthesis by the growing tree.  This carbon is converted to wood, bark and other parts of the tree, which are about ½ carbon by weight.  If the tree rots or burns, the solid carbon in the wood is released again to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas.  However, as long as a wood product is in service, it is keeping potential carbon dioxide gas out of the atmosphere.”  According to this article, an I-Joist that is 16’ long and 10” deep creates 70 carbon credits.Red_I_photo

Steel and concrete are strong and consistent building materials, but are high energy, non-renewable resources.  Companies like RedBuilt™ engineer wood to maximize utilization and strength of the material.  Engineered wood is strong, light-weight, energy efficient, and renewable – making it The Most Technologically Advanced Building Material used today.

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