Cross-laminated timber is the product most likely to keep people in the structural steel and concrete business awake at night. Known simply as CLT, small timber sections are formed into large structural panels that are light, stable and very strong. As well as lending themselves to great speed in construction, they also mean little waste, embodied carbon (achieving a carbon-neutral rating), and the fact that they are light in weight means smaller, cheaper foundations too.
As well as speed of construction, the other benefits of CLT include:
- Timber can be locally sourced, from local materials (which, unlike steel and concrete, are far less likely to fall foul of global market conditions leading to sudden price hikes). This means fewer transportation costs and a boost to the local economy.
- Timber is also likely to come from managed renewable forests, making far less of an environmental impact.
- The lightweight design enables greater open-plan clear spans, much loved in modern design, as well as smaller foundations.
- The off-site fabrication is also an environment saver, requiring far fewer transportation implications – once made, the packs all arrive together from one source.
- Timber has better insulation properties than its counterparts, leading to less use of natural resources for heating,
- And finally, all these green considerations make cross-laminate timber buildings far more likely to win BREEAM accreditation, which is good for their owners, as well as a feather in the cap for the design team.
Traditionally, CLT has been the domain of low-rise housing developments, but the height of CLT buildings is creeping up. Lend Lease completed a 10-storey residential block in Melbourne a few years ago, and Ramboll have been working on the structural design of two 10-storey residential buildings in the UK.
PRO Structures designs in CLT too – our most recent example being at a house on Shipley Road, North Bristol. For more information, see our Timber capability statement.