02 Feb Plyscrapers

When you think of how wood is used in real estate, you probably imagine a quaint log cabin or a suburban neighborhood home. Residential wood construction is still alive and well but commercial real estate developers have also begun incorporating wood into their mixed-use projects. The use of wood in high-rise building construction adds to the property’s aesthetic value, increases environmental sustainability, and decreases construction costs. In the new year, the construction of “plyscrapers” show no signs of slowing down.

In the past, developers had good reason to transition away from wood to the concrete and metal materials we see in current commercial real estate infrastructure. Concrete was more affordable than other building materials and wasn’t as susceptible to potentially devastating fire damage. The early days of commercial real estate construction also took place in a society less concerned with its carbon footprint, meaning factors like function and convenience took precedence over ecological responsibility. In our technologically savvy and environmentally-friendly present day, developers are using pre-engineered wood products called mass timber to save time, money, and improve sustainability.

Mass Timber is a material designed for large-scale construction. These products are made from several layers of wood glued together with up to 20 inches of thickness to serve as the foundation and structure for larger buildings. The panels also go through intensive testing to ensure they’ve attained the proper safety and density levels. The use of mass timber cuts down on construction costs for numerous reasons. The ease of transportation from the wood engineering site to the construction site doesn’t require massive cranes for the lightweight materials. It’s also easier to build with wood as less manual labor and energy are necessary to complete similar tasks. With the decrease in wasted resources, developers save money and dispense less carbon emissions in the building process.

As development processes continue to evolve, wood products are sure to be a major player in years to come. Though it will be some time before we see a completely wood-based commercial real estate world, the benefits of mass timber are becoming more evident every day.

Bruce Freides