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News: 1 July 2016

Structural Sustainability: The rise of the timber age


Timber has been a staple in worldwide construction for centuries and, as with other building materials, the techniques for the manufacture and processing of wood have developed with time. Most recently, the world of timber construction has been revolutionised with the development of readily available engineered wood products (EWPs), the most commonly used include; cross laminated timber (CLT), glued laminated timber (glulam) and laminated veneer lumber (LVL).

So how do EWPs differ from traditional timber? EWPs are manufactured by gluing together small sections of timber in laminations using adhesives. This technique allows for purposeful orientation of the grain to suit specific loading situations, i.e. alternating the direction of the grain with each layer as in CLT or maintaining a uni-directional grain for glulam.

EWPs have a number of advantages over traditional sawn timber, attributed to the fact that the products are made using multiple smaller sections, which make it much easier to control the timber quality and reduce the inherent variability of the raw material. EWPs can offer enhanced strength and stiffness, a broad range of possible section sizes and shapes, and an overall better dimensional stability than sawn timber.

Engineered timber still embodies the ‘eco-bonus’ of traditional wood. It is a naturally occurring ‘carbon sink’, absorbing and storing CO2 as it grows, and as a result it plays an important part in climate protection. Moreover, responsible raw material sourcing and intelligent manufacturing processes can achieve a highly sustainable construction material.

In recent years, HTS have witnessed a rise in the specification of EWPs for structural use. The industry is becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that can be gained from using a structural material that can assist the speed of construction, is lightweight, and has a strong aesthetic appeal.

Research developments and manufacturing methods are advancing at an ever increasing rate, with prefabricated designs, modular construction methods and hybrid-CLT systems proving popular and allowing greater flexibility to design teams.


HTS featured projects: Hannington Farm, Westwood, Borough High Street, Christ Church, Coworth Spa, St Elizabeth Primary School 

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