Day 172: Michael Green- Why we should build wooden skyscrapers

Architect Michael Green notices how people react differently when they’re in a building made of wood. The touch wooden columns, smell the material, even hug it. In this TED talk he explains why wood is necessary as a building material in future.
The challenge for architects, is to house the 40% of the world who will need a new home within the next twenty years. In cities, one in three people live in slums. Over a hundred million people in the world are homeless. Building with steel and concrete is responsible for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This puts the problem of climate change almost on collision course with the issue of people needing a home.
The two challenges in combatting climate change are to reduce emissions and find storage. Wood is the only material that Green has found which does both of these things. Working with an engineer, he has been designing thirty storey buildings using enormous wood panels made from young trees glued together.
Green answers a few of the most common questions he faces about building with wood. There’s the issue of fire, to which he tells us that panels are as difficult to light as a single log using a match. Wood burns predictably once it is alight, making it easy to use fire science to design safe buildings. In relation to deforestation, Green has investigated a sustainable model for maintenance of trees and they estimate that enough wood for a twenty storey building is grown in America every thirteen minutes.
Wood is possibly the oldest building material available, yet this is a technological building revolution, as it represents the first new way to build a skyscraper in over 100 years. Green tells us there are already multi- storey wooden buildings in London and Australia and he hopes his hometown of Vancouver will announce the world’s tallest, at 20 stories in the near future.


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