Is Timber Set to Replace Steel and Concrete in Commercial Construction?

20019343 - manager of a building site looking on a structureUntil the turn of the 20th century, timber played an enormous role in construction projects around our country, but through the 1900s the benefits of steel and concrete drew builders away from timber. Now timber is predicted to make a major comeback, especially in commercial construction, largely in thanks to fabrication techniques and connection engineering that makes sustainable construction with timber a reality. As more people view timber as a desirable architectural medium, construction is bound to experience a steady growth of timber projects.

The Timber Trend

According to Susan Jones, a veteran architect and representative for the American Institute of Architects, timber is becoming more popular due to the concerns surrounding climate change. When grown responsibly and sustainably, trees can provide timber as a natural, renewable resources that won’t cause nearly as much damage to the environment as other building material. As Jones explained, “As an individual, as an architect, we all understand that we have a huge role to play in how our profession can affect climate change. It is one of the biggest ethical challenges our generation faces.”

The Benefits Timber Offers

Timber panels are strong but lightweight, and they can be prefabricated for convenience. Furthermore, timber can create a repetitive, modular system of construction that is especially useful in tight urban spaces because it’s so simple. Better yet, timber is quicker to build with, reduces noise, and even reduces pollution because less trucks are needed to transport materials in. Data shows that most timber projects finish 20 to 30 percent faster than projects of equal size using other construction mediums, which saves money on the entire process.

Though steel and concrete construction will always be around, people like Jones and other timber advocates hope that timber can work its way into the construction industry to help improve the sustainability of building projects and place more power back in the hands of the architects.