Log Cabins? No, These Wooden Buildings are High-Rises

By on January 4, 2019

From NY Times:  Developers have not used wood for much other than houses since the horse-and-buggy days. But the knotty building material is making a comeback.

Seeking greener projects, which many consumers continue to embrace despite an anti-environmental mood in Washington, builders are choosing timber for offices, apartments and campus buildings, rather than the concrete and steel that dominated construction for decades.

Not everybody is on board with the trend, which is playing out from coast to coast. Concerns persist about wood’s flame resistance and strength, as well as its cost, which can be 30 percent more than traditional materials.

But proponents scored a huge win last month when the International Code Council, an influential advisory group in Washington, concluded that some wooden buildings could climb as high as 18 stories, more than twice the current permissible height, without compromising safety.

“The connections people have with wood cannot be underestimated,” said Tim Gokhman, the director of New Land Enterprises, which is behind two projects in Milwaukee that are mostly made of wood. One is a seven-story office building. The other is Ascent, a 201-unit luxury rental tower that, at 21 stories, would be the tallest timber building in the Western Hemisphere. Both await approvals — including permission to exceed height restrictions, which developers say will not pose any danger — but expect to break ground this year.

Unlike the production of concrete and steel, which generates huge amounts of carbon dioxide, the creation of lumber is a relatively low-pollution process, Mr. Gokhman said.

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