Constructing buildings out of wood makes a lot of sense.
The density of the wood used in construction makes it less prone to fire, not more:
“The mass timber in tall mass timber buildings are large pre-manufactured cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels for beams and columns, floors, walls and roof assemblies. The CLT panels are typically utilized in an odd number of laminations. The individual laminations are laid perpendicular to the preceding lamination. This results in a floor system of solid timber that is typically 7 to 12 inches thick. There is an inherent fire resistance to heavy or mass timber because of the layer of char that occurs during a fire that protects the inner structure of the beam or panel. Testing has shown that heavy mass timber chars at a predictable rate that is comparable to dimension lumber.
“If you combine the inherent fire resistance of heavy or mass timber with protection from non-combustible insulators, such as Type X gypsum board (testing has shown each layer of five-eighths-inch Type X gypsum provides approximately 40 minutes of fire resistance), the fire-resistance rating of CLT panels meets or exceeds the fire-resistance ratings of concrete and protected steel.
It’s also incredibly more environmentally friendly than concrete:
“The energy required to produce a laminated wooden beam is one-sixth of that required for a steel one of comparable strength. As trees take carbon out of the atmosphere when growing, wooden buildings contribute to negative emissions by storing the stuff. When a mature tree is cut down, a new one can be planted to replace it, capturing more carbon. After buildings are demolished, old beams and panels are easy to recycle into new structures. And for retrofitting older buildings to be more energy efficient, wood is a good insulator. A softwood window frame provides nearly 400 times as much insulation as a plain steel one of the same thickness and over a thousand times as much as an aluminium equivalent.”
Innovations in building construction is on the rise.
TechCrunch recently profiled a Y Combinator startup that’s helmed by a rocket engineer who is using aerospace engineeering to build structures that are more structurally sound and/or a third of the cost of traditional construction.