Tall timber skyscrapers beacon for a future friendlier to climate, Vancouver conference hears


For Dutch architect Do Janne Vermeulen, the “space race” to build the world’s tallest timber-based building is no longer a matter of pride, but more of a sustainable imperative.

“I don’t think it matters who gets the highest first,” Vermeulen said following her presentation to a sustainable-building conference in Vancouver.

“What’s interesting to see is that it helps to get attention for tall wood buildings,” which is the important part “because if you get one, you might get two, if you get 10 you might get 20 and with 20, you might get 100.”

Vermeulen’s Amsterdam-based firm, Team V Architecture, is in that race with its design for Haut, a 73-metre (240-feet-tall) hybrid mass-timber residential building in a new, sustainability focused residential district of that city.

And multiplying the numbers of buildings defined as sustainable, sequestering carbon in renewable wood construction materials, is becoming more important at a time when warnings about climate change are becoming more stark.

Vermeulen spoke Tuesday in a keynote address to Wood Works B.C.’s annual Wood Solutions conference, which is doing double-duty this year as a week-long gathering of international policy makers in collaboration with the lobby group Passivehouse Canada and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in an October report, warned of irreversible changes if people don’t take immediate and substantial reductions in their greenhouse-gas emissions beyond what they are taking now.

If people don’t, they are courting climate temperature increases in as little as 12 years that would speed up the melting of sea ice, cause droughts, famine and flood that are worse than previously anticipated.

Responding, in British Columbia, means implementing initiatives such as the province’s Energy Step Code, an optional set of energy-efficiency standards, or the Canadian Build Smart standards, according to conference organizers.

With wood recognized as a low-carbon option, “it is imperative to offer technical knowledge through learning opportunities in wood products and building systems,” said Lynn Embury-Williams, executive director of Wood Works B.C.

In past years, the Wood Solutions conference has highlighted local vanguard projects such as the all-timber Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, which is now home to University of Northern B.C. and Emily Carr University of Art and Design programs aimed at fostering the use of wood in construction.

The 18-storey timber-hybrid Brock House residence at the University of B.C. has also taken centre stage at Wood Solutions.

This year, …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Business

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