"Although CLT has been around for a quarter-century, tall wooden buildings are only now taking off. Credit growing concerns about climate and computer advances that make it easier to fashion custom-shaped panels, says Sam Zelinka, head of building and fire sciences research at the Forest Products Laboratory, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Madison. 'The carbon thing has got people thinking about—I don't know what kind of word you want to use—sustainability and greenness,' he says.
"Besides being renewable, wood proponents argue, timber offers a double helping of carbon benefits. It's less energy intensive to produce than steel and concrete. And the wood in a building effectively sequesters carbon, while trees regrowing in logged areas can absorb additional carbon dioxide (CO2). A report from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, estimated that throughout its entire life, a large building made mostly from wood would have a carbon footprint a third smaller than a comparable one made from steel or concrete.
"On a global scale, replacing the steel used in construction with timber such as CLT could cut CO2 emissions by 15% to 20%, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry. 'It's amazing what can be done,' says Chad Oliver, the study's lead author and head of the Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry at Yale University."