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Sustainable Building Solutions: Exploring the Benefits of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT)


Saving time and money with CLT


Sustainable building solutions are becoming increasingly popular in Australia as people become more conscious about their buildings' impact on the environment. 


Sustainable residential design

Sustainability is at the forefront of the industry in 2024, and to ensure you get it right, plans need to be made, from siting to design, operation, construction, renovation, maintenance, and demolition. 


There are many benefits of sustainable building solutions, including reducing carbon emissions, conserving natural resources, improving indoor air quality, and reducing operating costs over the life of the building. 


So, in this article, we’ll cover sustainability, give you a little background on governing bodies, and then dissect cross-laminated timber, all of its benefits, exactly what’s inside it, and how it’s made.


So, let’s get on with it!



Governing Bodies and Laws in Australia


In Australia, several laws and regulations govern sustainable building practices. One of the most important is the National Construction Code (NCC). They were set up to put in place minimum requirements in building design and, subsequently, construction in Australia. 


The NCC includes provisions for energy efficiency, water efficiency, and sustainability.


Residential homes with solar panels

Another important law is the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), which is a non-profit organisation that promotes sustainable building practices and operates a certification program for buildings that meet specific environmental standards. 


The GBCA has developed a rating system called Green Star, which evaluates the environmental performance of buildings across several categories, including energy, water, materials, and indoor environment quality.



Cross Laminated Timber CLT


A significant breakthrough in low-emission Construction.


Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a sustainable building material that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is a type of engineered wood product that is made by glueing together multiple layers of solid-sawn lumber, typically spruce, pine, or fir, in alternating directions. This creates a strong and stable panel that can be used for walls, roofs, and floors in buildings.


Wood materials in bedroom design

CLT was first used in Europe in the 1990s and has since gained popularity in North America and Australia. It is seen as a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials like concrete and steel because it is made from renewable resources and has a lower carbon footprint.


Here are seven benefits for construction companies and builders when they use CLT:


  • Sustainability - CLT is made from renewable resources and has a lower carbon footprint than traditional building materials like concrete and steel. This makes it an attractive option for builders who want to reduce their environmental impact.


  • Speed of construction - CLT can be prefabricated off-site and assembled on-site, significantly reducing construction time and costs.


  • Strength and stability - CLT panels are incredibly strong and stable, which makes them ideal for use on walls, roofs, and floors.


  • Fire resistance - CLT is naturally fire-resistant due to its thickness and the way it is constructed, making it a safer option for buildings.


  • Acoustic performance - CLT has excellent acoustic performance, which can help to reduce noise levels in buildings.


  • Design flexibility - CLT can be used to create unique and complex designs, allowing architects and builders to create functional and visually appealing structures.


  • Cost-effective - Although CLT can be more expensive than traditional building materials, its speed of construction and other benefits can make it a cost-effective option in the long run.


CLT is a versatile and sustainable building material that greatly benefits construction companies and builders. As more people become aware of its benefits, more buildings will be constructed using this innovative material.



A Closer Look Inside CLT - FACTS


Cross-laminated cladding CLT is an engineered wood product structured with layers of lumber boards that are kiln-dried and then stacked in alternating directions. The structural adhesives are used to bond them together. 


The number of layers in CLT panels can vary from three to nine, depending on the desired thickness and performance. The thickness of each layer can range from 12 mm to 45 mm, and the overall panel thickness can range from 60 mm to 400 mm.


  • The width and length of CLT panels can also vary depending on the manufacturer and the project requirements. The typical width of CLT panels is 2.4 m to 3 m, and the typical length is 6 m to 18 m. However, some manufacturers can produce up to 4.8 m wide and 24 m long CLT panels.


  • The lumber boards for CLT panels are usually softwood species, such as spruce, pine, fir, or larch. However, some manufacturers also use hardwood species, such as birch, beech, or oak, for the outer or inner layers of CLT panels to enhance the appearance or performance.


  • The lumber boards are graded according to their strength and quality. They are arranged in specific patterns to optimise CLT panels' structural and aesthetic properties. The most common patterns are symmetrical, where the outer layers have the same orientation and thickness, and unsymmetrical, where the outer layers have different orientations and thicknesses.


  • The structural adhesives used for CLT panels are usually one-component or two-component polyurethane (PUR) adhesives, which have high bond strength, durability, and resistance to moisture and fire. Other types of adhesives, such as melamine-urea-formaldehyde (MUF), phenol-resorcinol-formaldehyde (PRF), or emulsion polymer isocyanate (EPI), can also be used for CLT panels, depending on the environmental and performance requirements.


  • The manufacturing process of CLT panels involves several steps, such as lumber selection, defect removal, cutting, adhesive application, layering, pressing, curing, trimming, and finishing. The process is controlled by computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-numeric control (CNC) systems, which ensure high precision and quality of CLT panels.


The performance of CLT panels depends on several factors, such as the wood species, the number and orientation of layers, the adhesive type, the panel size and shape, and the loading and boundary conditions. 


For builders and construction companies, they are a dream. The panels have high strength, stiffness, stability, and flexibility in both directions. And they can resist axial, bending, shear, and torsional forces. 



Summary


Sustainable building solutions are essential for creating a more environmentally responsible and sustainable future. With the right laws and regulations in place, the construction industry can ensure that our buildings are designed and constructed to benefit both people and the planet. As you will know, CLT is just one of many materials helping our carbon footprint.

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