A material with great potential
Mass timber is increasingly seen as having a very bright future. Friendly to the environment and a great performer, wood makes an obvious choice for low-energy buildings or passive houses. While the “green” factor has played a decisive role to date, the economic benefits are becoming ever more clear.
Many projects bear witness to the effectiveness of mass timber construction—the rebuilding of the seismically active zone around L'Aquila in Italy, for example. Of all building materials, wood boasts the best weight-to-resistance ratio, making it great on challenging terrain or for roof extensions.
Many people prefer wood for its look and feel indoors. It has a comfortable surface temperature and the ability to compensate for rapid fluctuations in temperature and humidity.
When used in interior design, wood reduces stress and enhances the health of building occupants. Studies have established a link between wood and human health, demonstrating that the presence of visible wood surfaces in a room diminishes sympathetic nervous system activity, which in humans is responsible for physiological stress responses. Using wood in the built environment can therefore provide a myriad of health benefits—a very appealing socioeconomic benefit indeed!
Wood and human health (UBC, FPInnovations)
The Enviro-Lam process
Through its research and development efforts, our company has developed an innovative transformation technology we call the Enviro-Lam process. The process makes it possible to retrieve and utilize more viable tree fibers than any other previous process. Traditional glulam techniques involve assembling standard-size lumber (2 × 4, 2 × 6 and 2 x 8 in.) to produce large structural members. The Enviro-Lam process, however, uses sizes as small as 25 x 50 mm (1 x 2 in.).
This new process makes it possible to optimize fiber recovery from the entire tree, including the crown and small branches usually left behind in the forest. Besides reducing waste, the use of very small wood pieces with fewer defects enables us to obtain better dimensional stability and greater mechanical resistance, along with an improved appearance.
Fire resistance refers to the time during which building elements are able to continue performing their functions despite the presence of a fire. The burning rate of wood structural elements depends on the species used and their thickness, the moisture content, and the amount of exposure to fire. Mass timber burns slowly since a carbon layer forms on the surface and impedes combustion. Its resistance is relatively unaffected by heat. This is not the case with so-called "incombustible" materials. Since burning rates are known, designers can specify the minimum dimensions needed to maintain the mechanical performance of elements, in accordance with the degree of fire resistance required.
A prestigious material
Wood is one of the most ancient building materials used by humankind. Through the ages it has been a popular solution, one that is natural and reliable. Today, the decision to build with wood is a conscientious and informed choice, consistent with the principles of sustainable development. Timber frame construction combines the wisdom of nature with the intelligence of man.