New Zealand’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral, as well as reducing earthquake risk, has led to new research with broader implications on the use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) walls. According to University of Canterbury’s Seismic Associate Professor Minghao Li and his team, the eco- and cost-friendly alternative to steel and concrete could credibly be used in low-rise buildings.
To that end, The Earthquake Commission gave $75,000 for the two-year research program in which Li and PhD student Ben Moerman tested multi-story timber walls to see how they would behave in significant earthquakes. The team’s findings could help reduce earthquake risk, while at the same time help mitigate the ongoing supply issues in the construction industry due to COVID-19. It would also promote environmental values.
Li did acknowledge that engineered timber materials might be slightly more expensive than other materials but said the speed of construction and limited resources required may also make timber a cost competitive building solution. The walls are prefabricated off-site and required a small number of staff to put them together, he said, “So, you make savings and can build much faster by using timber.”
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Eco-friendly timber walls could replace steel or concrete, research finds