By returning to one of the original building materials, timber, Entuitive offers clients elegant design and engineering solutions that are efficient, cost-effective, architecturally expressive, and environmentally sustainable.
Modern mass timber products, such as glued-laminated timber (glulam) and cross-laminated timber (CLT), enable us to serve our clients and their visions for everything from arenas to recreational facilities, residential and commercial buildings, and more.
The Benefits of Mass Timber
Mass timber construction offers the benefits of sustainability, architectural expression, and faster construction times, making it an increasingly viable choice in building design and construction.
Timber-based structures have a lower carbon footprint due to carbon sequestration. Trees sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which remains stored in the wood when trees are harvested. As such, timber begins its construction life as a carbon-negative material. An end-of-life strategy will ensure the carbon remains sequestered, rather than simply delaying its release.
In addition, manufacturing wood products, such as glulam and CLT, requires significantly less energy than producing other building materials. Together with responsible logging and regrowth in forests, building with timber allows for the maintenance of a healthy atmosphere and planet.
Building with visually exposed timber allows for the creation of beautiful, unique interior and exterior designs that truly make a statement. Timber offers a built-in richness and elegance that can elevate any building project, creating a pleasing and attractive environment for occupants.
Building with timber offers the advantage of speed during construction. Since panelized and modular timber elements are manufactured off-site and erected faster, a mass timber building can be constructed up to 20-30% faster than a steel building or poured-in-place concrete building.
Waste management is also simplified with timber, both in the manufacturing process and on-site, due to the level of prefabrication, eliminating the need to cut elements on-site. For this same reason, construction sites are quieter and safer than when building with traditional materials.
What Are the Challenges?
Challenges of building with mass timber involve cost of construction, pricing, approvals, insurance, acoustics, and fire and water considerations. Our fire and timber specialists can help you navigate these challenges, ensuring your project is realized on time and on budget.
Construction costs depend greatly on project requirements. Mass timber buildings are often cost-competitive when all factors, including construction time, are considered. Early coordination is also necessary when work with prefabricated timber elements. For example, locations and sizes of openings for mechanical and electrical services must be fully detailed in advance.
All Entuitive projects are prepared using a BIM platform, allowing close coordination with other disciplines before releasing construction documents.
Supply Chain & Pricing
As products are not yet standardized in the mass timber industry, early engagement of the timber trade in the design process is preferred. Entuitive’s specialists can assist with the assessment and selection of a timber supplier.
North American codes typically allow a height of up to six storeys for mass timber buildings. However, Entuitive can assist with the alternate approvals process for taller structures. The 2021 International Building Code will allow certain mass timber buildings up to 18 storeys.
The cost of insurance during timber construction is generally higher than construction with traditional materials. Engaging insurers early in the process to help accurately assess risks, particularly for mass timber structures that are less prone to construction fires than light wood frame buildings, can help control insurance costs.
Timber structures are lighter and more prone to the transmission of airborne and impact sounds. As such, appropriate acoustic isolation measures are required for timber projects where acoustic control is important.
Mass timber behaves very differently than light wood frame buildings when exposed to fire; large timber elements develop a char layer that insulates the wood beneath. Mass timber elements can therefore be engineered to achieve fire-resistance ratings by accounting for this char layer during design, allowing the timber to be left exposed. These elements can also be encapsulated in drywall or a similar material to achieve the required fire-resistance rating if the exposed timber aesthetic is not critical to the project.
Entuitive offers specialized, performance-based fire engineering services that explore advanced engineering solutions for our clients, including pedestrian and evacuation modelling. We apply fire modelling, structural fire engineering, and evacuation modelling to demonstrate the performance of timber buildings to clients and building officials.
Wood is a natural material that absorbs and releases moisture with changes in the environment. Effective weather protection during construction, when the variation in moisture content is most severe, ensures that dimensional changes do not exceed allowable tolerances, and that finishes, such as roofing membranes, can be properly installed.
Working with Entuitive
Entuitive provides full structural and fire engineering design services for your timber project as well as support through any alternative approvals process required.
Contact our specialized structural wood team today to get started on your timber design.