Eight of the world’s 139 timber towers are located in Australia, but there are some largescale and impressive projects in the works. Australia’s desire for carbon-negative buildings continues to grow, despite the 25% increase in the cost of timber over the past 2-years and an ongoing timber shortage that continues to constrain the country’s construction industry’s ability to build.
Research from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat shows there are 66 timber towers higher than eight stories completed globally, with another 73 either proposed or under construction. The height of timber towers has tripled in the past 10 years.
The world’s tallest timber tower has been pitched for Perth, tipping out tech giant Atlassian’s approved Sydney timber hybrid tower. Grange Development recently filed plans for a $350-million, 50-story timber-hybrid residential tower of 245 apartments. At almost 183 meters, the development—to be known as C6—would be the tallest timber building in the world, outreaching Atlassian’s approved Sydney tower by 3 meters.
Grange Development’s managing director, James Dibble, said that the rapidly shifting climate was the main driver behind the carbon-negative building proposed for Perth. “The built environment is one of the three major drivers of catastrophic climate change, alongside transport and agriculture,” Dibble said.
“Timber as a building material has been around for centuries, but only recently has mass timber construction and fabrication methods made it a viable option in masse,” Dibble added. “[The proposal] represents the future of what is possible, except we will deliver it now.”
Embodied carbon accounts for around 20 to 25 percent of a typical building’s total carbon footprint over its lifetime, according to the Green Building Council of Australia. But embodied emissions are hard to eliminate because some of our most common building materials—notably concrete and steel—require process heat and chemical reactions that can’t be easily decarbonized. The development industry is turning to alternative materials, like mass timber, to reduce the amount of concrete and steel in buildings.
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