April 23, 2024

Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT): Innovative Sustainable Construction

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Unlocking the Potential of Cross-Laminated Timber: A Paradigm Shift in Sustainable Construction

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In the fields of construction and architecture, various acronyms are used to denote cross-laminated timber, including CLT, KLH, X-LAM, CROSS-LAM, and others. Cross-laminated construction involves panels made up of layers of wooden boards, pressed together under high pressure to form structural panels.

Approximately 33% of global CO2 emissions result from construction and energy production required for building operation. At Od-do Architecture, we believe it is crucial to take measures to reduce the environmental impact of construction, contribute to the sustainable development of the planet, and ensure compliance with all environmental guidelines and legislation for investors and companies. One way to reduce the carbon footprint is by using wood in construction. A modern approach involves using cross-laminated timber as a structural material for building construction.

In addition to its sustainability aspect, the use of cross-laminated timber as a structural material has many positive impacts. CLT construction elements are manufactured in workshops using CNC machines, ensuring high precision. Details are carefully planned during the design phase, preventing unexpected challenges during construction and potential additional costs in later stages.  Panels are prepared in the workshop, enabling extremely fast and clean construction sites. Construction time is remarkably short, and assembly proceeds rapidly, which is crucial for investors from an economic perspective.

Od-do Architecture chose CLT as the construction material for the reconstruction and extension of the Pedenjped Učenjak kindergarten in Ljubljana. Due to the temporary relocation of children to other kindergartens, the construction’s time component was crucial, leading to the selection of cross-laminated timber construction for its swift assembly. After laying the foundation slab, the entire new structure was completed in five days.

CLT element details and joints are designed simply, simplifying the construction process. Simultaneously, wall and floor or roof panel constructions are identical, further facilitating execution.

There are many prejudices regarding the fire safety of wooden constructions. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction allows significantly greater fire resistance compared to other wooden elements and can even surpass the fire resistance of reinforced concrete and steel elements. Wooden elements during a fire form a char layer that prevents heat transmission and ensures adequate fire resistance by standards. Additional surface protection is possible by thickening the element or using fire-resistant plaster, providing additional protection against fire hazards.

Cross-laminated panels are made with water-based adhesives that do not contain formaldehyde or odors. This allows for a pleasant indoor climate, as the material regulates room humidity. In traditional solid brick or reinforced concrete construction, structural surfaces are often covered with plaster. CLT construction can be left uncovered, revealing the structure. Visible construction adds character and a pleasant feeling to the space. In the project of reconstructing and extending the Pedenjped Učenjak kindergarten in Ljubljana, we exposed the walls in the playrooms, enhancing the quality of living since wood positively influences users’ concentration and reduces stress, making it suitable for residences, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and similar purposes.

Compared to solid wood, CLT elements have better mechanical and deformation properties. The material, compared to concrete, brick, and steel, has a lower weight, making it significantly more earthquake-resistant. Using CLT allows for vertical construction and ensures large spans. The first multi-story building made of cross-laminated panels was the Murray Grove building in London. The 9-story building was completed in 2009 and was constructed in just 49 weeks. In 2022, in Wisconsin, USA, they completed the tallest building with CLT construction and reinforced concrete core, standing at 25 stories and reaching a height of 86.6 m. Projects built with CLT in recent years around the world are pushing the boundaries and prejudices of wooden construction.

During the design phase, it is necessary to consider various options and select the appropriate construction material. Criteria for selecting construction vary, such as building type, economic considerations, spans, architectural concepts, sustainability, etc. In Slovenia, the most extensively used construction methods are traditional solid brick and reinforced concrete. Construction with cross-laminated timber represents a viable alternative suitable for constructing various types of buildings. Wood is a versatile and intelligent material. Trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere, bind carbon, and release O2 into the air. In ecologically aware and developed countries, wood is becoming one of the leading construction materials contributing to reducing the carbon footprint, the impact of construction on harmful emissions, compliance of company buildings with ESG standards, and obtaining favorable financing and subsidies for construction.

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