Project Management Institute

Branching Out

Timber Skyscrapers Could Reduce Construction's Carbon Impact


Wood-frame skyscrapers have inched ever higher over the past decade, with the 18-story Mjøstårnet in Brumunddal, Norway (pictured at right) making PMI’s Most Influential Projects list thanks to its record height among timber structures. Now a new paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters is giving project leaders another reason to consider timber over concrete and steel.

The study found that if the construction industry embraced timber on a wide scale over the next two decades, some 420 million tons of carbon dioxide could be sequestered within wooden buildings in Europe alone. Timber naturally absorbs and sequesters carbon dioxide. On the other hand, the production of cement and steel are responsible for roughly 15 percent of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, according to CleanTechnica.

The promise of “plyscrapers” appears to be catching on. Last year, France mandated that all public buildings after 2022 be constructed of at least 50 percent wood or other organic material.

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