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Coming to Your City: Wooden Skyscrapers

Mass timber is being used to build more structures in the U.S. and around the world, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

Why: The carbon footprint of mass timber buildings from selectively cut trees can be half that of a similar building made from concrete and steel, according to The Journal of Sustainability.

  • These buildings can also be built quicker and cost less than concrete and steel buildings, especially if the construction site is near a mass timber manufacturing plant.
  • Mass timber is developed when wood is glued and pressed in special ways to give it strength comparable to concrete and steel.

The numbers: Multistory mass-timber building projects in the U.S. rose by 50% to more than 1,300 structures between July 2020 and December 2021, according to the wood trade organization WoodWorks.

  • The projects include a Google office building in Sunnyvale, California; a residential-retail complex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and an office building in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • Eighteen mass-timber manufacturing plants have been built in the U.S. and Canada since 2014, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The numbers worldwide: The global market for mass timber, estimated at $956 million in 2020, was predicted to grow at an annual rate of 13.6% from 2021 to 2028, according to a report by Grand View Research.

  • Larger mass timber projects, including a 70-story Japanese building and an 80-story skyscraper in London, are being proposed around the world.
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