Whatever the reason, increased wood use contributes to a more sustainable built environment

In my first article[1] for EcoPreserve, I wrote about mass timber products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) and nail-laminated timber (NLT) and their growing use in the U.S. south. Those materials continue to draw attention, partly because their strength and dimensional stability make them a carbon-friendly alternative, even where wood isn’t typically used. More and more, building designers are finding applications for wood.

At WoodWorks, I provide technical support related to the design of wood buildings. This gives me a unique perspective on trends, and I see more designers leveraging the aesthetic of heavy timber, adding distinction to their commercial and public building projects. I’m often one of the first to hear about concerns—including historic concerns about moisture, which are addressed through modern design and detailing

Blaze pizzeria at Disney Springs

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza at Disney Springs

A great example is the flagship location of Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza at Disney Springs, designed by Morris Architects, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Wood is used extensively, and the design is meant to show the progression of wood systems—from traditional post-and-beam construction at the entrance to a patio made spectacular with cantilevered glulam beams.

The Grove at Live Oak Bank

The Grove at Live Oak Bank

Two winners of this year’s WoodWorks Wood Design Awards, both in North Carolina, also use heavy timber to great effect. For The Grove at Live Oak Bank[2], a desire for sustainability and beauty led to an exposed wood structure that includes glulam beams, columns, and king-post trusses. Duda|Paine Architects also chose heavy timber for the three-level atrium lobby at the Duke University Student Wellness Center[3], adding drama to the space with exposed columns, beams, and roof deck.

I’m also seeing an increase in mid-rise wood-frame buildings in this part of the world—like the Brooklyn Riverside[4] in Jacksonville, another winner of a Wood Design Award. There seems to be growing awareness that the building code allows wood for four-, five- and even six-story buildings, and it’s a cost-effective way to add density without sacrificing safety or performance. (Building codes require all materials to perform to the same level of safety for the given building type.)

At the end of the day, designers of mass timber projects may be the most vocal about wood’s sustainability and carbon benefits, but using wood for aesthetics or cost delivers the same benefits to the built environment.

[1] Mass Timber: a Carbon-Friendly Alternative
[2] The Grove at Live Oak Bank project
[3] Duke University Student Wellness Center project
[4] Brooklyn Riverside (Jacksonville) project

Jeff Peters, P.E.

Jeff Peters, P.E.

Regional Director at Woodworks
WoodWorks provides free project assistance as well as education and resources related to the code-compliant design, engineering, and construction of all types of non-residential and multi-family wood buildings, including mass timber. For projects in Florida, Alabama, southern Georgia and Mississippi, contact Jeff at jeff.peters@woodworks.org. For projects elsewhere, contact a regional director near you or email help@woodworks.org.

You may also like...

Tools tailored to location and need

Disaster resilience requires a select toolset, identified, adapted, or created as needed based on planning calls and inclusive workshop participation.

Business and government organizations today are confronted by threat categories that range from drought to flood, from fire to hurricane, and extend globally to pandemics and sea level rise. Threat categories are broad and diverse, but ecoPreserve and collaborating organizations design resiliency tools for specific local context.

Local needs are identified and verified. Building from that essential understanding, tools are designed, tested in pilot programs, refined, then implemented through action plans.

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

Today's challenges/
tomorrow's potential

ecoPreserve collaborates with major community and private organizations in optimizing the resiliency and resource efficiency of their workplaces, venues, and public spaces.

In response to ever-increasing environmental, sociopolitical, and public health challenges, we advocate for and participate in assessment and planning actions that directly address disaster preparations, recovery activities, infrastructure improvements, and smart building/city design.

Online and in-person workshops

ecoPreserve designs and leads workshops in varied formats, to achieve varied goals.

Often an event is held for skill and knowledge development, but some needs of an organization or community are better resolved through collaboration to identify requirements and to design solutions. A range of Disaster Resilience workshops are available for solutions planning and development, as well as for training and communication.

Disaster Planning and Recovery Workshops

  • Identify technical and business process gaps
  • Define stakeholders, recovery teams, and processes/functionalities necessary for operation
  • Highlight missed expectations from a data loss and recovery time perspective
  • Address compliance with regulatory agencies and industry standards
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.