The International Building Code allows 5 stories of wood-frame construction in building occupancies that include multi-family, military, senior, student and affordable housing—and six stories for business. | Stella Luxury Apartments, a wood frame building located in Marina Del Rey, CA, Architect: DesignARC | ©2013 Lawrence Anderson Photography

As communities have become increasingly aware of their impact on the planet—and the environment’s impact on them—there’s an increasing demand for better, healthier and more sustainable solutions for our built environment. A recent study found that demand for green buildings is doubling every three years and studies are also showing that investment in green construction can add immediate value to a building. Furthermore, research on biophilic design has shown a link between visible natural elements such as wood and human health.

The Hudson is a commercial space with 15’ ceilings, custom 2x4 decking, extensive use of wood including exposed glue-laminated timber columns and beams. Architecture: Mackenzie Architects | Photo: Christian Columbres

This demand has led to forward-thinking design trends that are making extreme efficiency possible. These include the passive house movement, where design and construction techniques result in buildings that manage interior climate with less or no energy, and the drive for taller wood structures, topping seven, 10 and even 20 stories. These structures feature a reduced carbon footprint and efficient construction with no compromise in safety and durability.

Looking to build better with wood?

As an architect, engineer or developer, you can create buildings that capitalize on these opportunities when you design and build with wood:

  • Health & Well-Being

    As a natural material, wood isn’t a toxic element in the built environment. Wood finishes and exposed wood have a measurable impact on human well-being.

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  • High Performance

    With careful design, houses can be built requiring fewer or no mechanical heating or cooling systems, reducing energy use. Wood’s inherent thermal mass and other properties can help achieve this standard.

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  • Taller Buildings

    Modern engineered wood products, coupled with new building techniques, have structural capabilities that make them suitable for taller buildings than ever before, bringing wood’s benefits to another class of structure.

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  • Sustainability

    Wood is a 100 percent renewable resource that grows naturally and can be harvested responsibly. It sequesters carbon efficiently and has low embodied energy.

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