T3 building Minnesota, USA

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T3, is the work of one of the mass timber moverment’s most leading lights – Micheal Green Architecture (MGA) from Vancouver, Canda Their new LEED Gold Certified mass timber office building in Minneapolis, is a gamechanger for the commercial building industry and a milestone for mass timber construction in the United States.  It is the first modern timber building to be built in the United States in more than 100 years, and at the time of completion (Sept 2016) the largest in North America.

The seven-storey, 220,000 sq ft commercial building will offer a mix of retail and office space, integrating into existing transit networks and the historic fabric of the city.

Uniquely, the timber structure of the building itself is a great part of the sustainability and carbon footprint story of this building. Using the Canadian Wood Council’s carbon calculator, one can study the carbon impact of different building materials and approaches from a life cycle perspective. Our data from past mid-rise timber projects has shown a significant reduction in life cycle impact for a timber structure, as compared to a concrete structure.

The timber structure is less energy-intensive to extract, and is renewable with minimal inputs.  It requires relatively little energy input to process raw logs into engineered wood products for building (whereas concrete and steel require significant material and energy inputs). Finally, the carbon that is absorbed by trees through the photosynthesis process is actually sequestered in the wood fibre throughout its lifetime in the building. The project will effectively be a carbon sink for its lifetime, and for as long as the wood products can be recycled and reused.

Photo credit: Michael Green Architecture (MGA)

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