Cleaner, greener, quicker, stronger: Is wood the building material of the future?

Is it time to swap the concrete jungle for timber? Harry Cockburn investigates

Sunday 02 May 2021 20:20
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<p>Cross-laminated timber can be stronger than concrete or steel</p>

Cross-laminated timber can be stronger than concrete or steel

W

e live in a world of concrete. After water, it’s the most widely used substance on our planet, and its usage around the world, ton for ton, is twice that of steel, wood, plastics and aluminium combined.

Its invention in 1824, by a bricklayer in Leeds who first produced the Portland cement used to bind the aggregates used in concrete, quite literally paved the way for the creation of the modern world, enabling humans to mould high-strength, stone-like structures of almost any shape.

Concrete’s ubiquity comes at a high price though: if the cement industry were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, after the US and China, as it releases over 2.8 billion tonnes into the atmosphere each year.

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