Research suggests a wooden future for skyscrapers


Skyscrapers dominate the skylines of our major cities, offering more urban density and greater flexibility than smaller buildings. However, concrete- and steel-based tall structures require huge amounts of energy for their construction, which comes at a significant environmental cost. This can be mitigated by incorporating technologies such as solar power, passive cooling systems and efficient lighting into the design, but what if we could go even further and build skyscrapers using sustainable materials? Herein lies the impetus behind recent research into the efficacy of wooden skyscrapers.

Before considering the technical hurdles of constructing tall buildings from wood, perhaps the first question which should be asked is: what are the specific benefits wood can offer over concrete and steel?


The single most compelling argument in favor of building wooden skyscrapers is the fact that, providing the timber is sourced responsibly, they represent an opportunity to create a sustainable building on a truly grand scale, cutting down on overall CO2 output as a result.

As a recent lengthy report on the subject by Michael Green Architects (MGA) entitled “Tall Wood” [PDF] asserts:

“Over the last twenty years, as the world’s understanding of anthropogenic climate change has evolved, we have seen the large impact that buildings contribute to the greenhouse gases causing climate change. Concrete production represents roughly 5 percent of world carbon dioxide emissions, the dominant greenhouse gas. In essence the production and transportation of concrete represents more than 5 times the carbon footprint of the airline industry as a whole. It is clear that the very fundamentals of what materials we build our buildings with are worth re-evaluating.”

The “Timber Towers” [PDF] report produced by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) cites the potential to compete with reinforced concrete and steel, while reducing the carbon footprint by 60 to 75 percent.

Structural Strength

To cope with the heavy load, stresses, and vibrations a skyscraper undergoes daily, it needs to be built from material far more durable than normal timber. The SOM and MGA reports both agree that the solution to constructing tall buildings from wood rests on the use of “Mass Timber.”

SOM’s report defines Mass Timber as solid panels of wood, engineered for greater strength through the lamination of different layers.

SOM’s researchers prefer to add concrete connecting joints when building with Mass Timber, while MGA utilizes steel to reinforce the mass timber panels. Whichever reinforcing method is chosen, the result is a very tough building material which is worlds away from the timber framing used to build many homes, and suitable for tall buildings up to 30 stories in height, even in high seismic areas like Vancouver.

(Read More)

(Excerpt of article by Adam Williams. NOT AFFILIATED WITH LAMBOO)


Lamboo, Laminated Veneer Bamboo (LVB), is unmatched in its potential as an environmentally friendly and structurally stable building material. Bamboo can be produced on a large scale with much more ease than timber forests cutting costs and limiting energy consumption. Testing and predictions from experts has led to Bamboo being referred to as “the next super material” due to its amazing attributes and resiliency.

In its engineered form (Lamboo) bamboo is the ideal bio-based product for applications requiring superior structural strength and longevity. In fact, Lamboo components are on average 20% more stable than hardwoods and up to 40% more stable than softwoods such as Pine or Douglas Fir.

Lamboo’s popularity as a sustainable, higher performing product is growing; we encourage you to learn more from the links below and to contact us with any questions that should arise.

About Bamboo as a resource

– Produces 30% more oxygen in comparison to similar size timber forest area

– Sequesters 35% more carbon in comparison to similar size timber forest area

– Growth rate of 6-8 years to maturity (In comparison to 25-50 for traditional timber)

– Root structure eliminates need to replant

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Product Information



A Bamboo Project – The Bamboo Industry in the U.S.


Bamboo has been deemed the new “wonder plant” and with good reason. Bamboo impacts the lives of over 1.5 billion people worldwide, has over 1500 uses that we know about now, is highly sustainable, sequesters up to 40% more Co2 than a forest of trees the same size, and is stronger than steel. 

Bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant in the world, capable of growing up to four feet a day. Most of it is grown organically, and in most locations requires no irrigation, pesticides, or fertilizers. Because of its fast growth, good mechanical properties, low price and abundant availability, bamboo is widely recognized as a promising resource for sustainable manufacturing.

An acre of bamboo can sequester 25 tons of carbon dioxide per year, compared to only 6 tons from a young forest. Bamboo is so effective in this role that Japan and the Netherlands are planting vast tracts of bamboo toward their carbon credit. Much of America’s lands are suitable for growing bamboo. After being imported as early as 1828 into the United States, bamboo grows wildly mostly concentrated in the Southern U.S. and Eastern seaboard. There are additional successful farms as far north as Ohio, Oregon and Washington.

Additional benefits of bamboo:

  • Bamboo requires only one third of the water than cotton does. There is much less carbon associated with growing bamboo such as operating tractors in harvesting and maintenance than cotton.
  • Bamboo is stronger than steel and more durable than wood. (withstands up to 52,000 Pounds of pressure psi) It can be used as a composite, structural beams, flooring, scaffolding, supports, housing, and concrete reinforcement.
  • Bamboo is flexible. It can be used in virtually any application such as bike frames, domes, and other products.
  • Bamboo filters soil of contaminants and prevents soil erosion.
  • This plant has a use in every industry.


The need for a bamboo industry in the United States.

Provided all legislation and forecasts stay on course during this election a perfect storm is brewing for the entrance of bamboo as a mainstream crop.

Read more about the effects the bamboo industry will have on the political, environmental, and industrial sectors of the U.S. here.

(Above is an excerpt of an article by Eric Stevens. NOT AFFILIATED IN ANY MANNER WITH LAMBOO)


Mr. Stevens is a prime example of the growing number of innovative leaders and advocates that are taking strong stands on environmental and societal issues. The fact of the matter is that with our rapidly growing society, the traditional way of building and supporting our society is unsustainable and drastic measures must be taken, and sooner rather than later. With the forests and non-renewable resources quickly depleting, our leaders will eventually be forced to look at alternative options. Advocates like Stevens are creating a great framework for this radical political and social shift by promoting the use of bamboo in the U.S. and internationally. Although bamboo will not solve all environmental issues, it can play a major role in the global struggle and movement towards sustainable living that upcoming decades will undoubtedly bring.


Lamboo is playing a large part in the use of bamboo materials in the U.S. through our Laminated Veneer Bamboo (LVB) panels in nearly every industry and market. Our materials are being incorporated all across the U.S. (and internationally) for architectural applications including residential, industrial, commercial, and retail markets. Learn more about our products at the links provided below.

Vital tool to support timber use in construction


Aiming to position timber as a first-choice ‘primary and preferred construction material’, Wood First Plus will provide evidence of the credentials of timber from cradle to grave.

Work has begun to create a free online information hub containing all of the environmental and design data necessary for project managers, designers and architects to specify timber as a first choice material.

The hub will be called Wood First Plus, and has been organized by Wood for Good, the UK timber industry promotion and sustainability group, supported by Scottish Enterprise, the Timber Trade Federation, Forestry Commission Scotland and the Timber Research and Development Association.

Building on the arguments of the Wood First campaign, which aims to position timber as a first-choice ‘primary and preferred construction material’, Wood First Plus will provide evidence of the credentials of timber from cradle to grave.

The project is a result of on-going consultation with timber industry organizations and external stakeholders, including contractors groups, architects, professional institutions and many others.

All stakeholders will be able to access whole-life information on timber products free of charge through a dedicated website, managed by Wood for Good.

Individual timber companies will be able to use this data as a basis to develop specific environmental product declarations (EPD) for their products to guarantee their sustainability and traceability.

David Hopkins, Wood for Good’s head of external communications, said: “With the built environment sector now firmly focused on delivering low-carbon, sustainable buildings, being able to quantify the environmental impact of construction materials is becoming increasingly important.

“The aim for Wood First Plus is to provide empirical evidence on the performance of specific wood products, making it easier for construction professionals wishing to build with timber to do so, and helping them to adhere to industry regulations. We look forward to announcing the first set of results later this year.”

The use of wood in construction brings numerous benefits for the environment, the economy, and the community. Trees absorb CO2 and store it, and when used in construction form an important store of atmospheric carbon, helping to limit global warming.

With sustainably managed forests and increased use of timber in construction it is an endlessly renewable process.

Additionally, wood has good thermal performance properties, increasing the energy efficiency and operational performance of a building. Timber framed buildings are often quicker to erect saving on construction cost.

The organization is also calling for a ‘Wood First’ stipulation in planning guidance that would require wood to be considered, where feasible, as the primary construction material in all publicly-funded new build and refurbishment projects, from housing to bridges to schools.

PE International has been engaged to oversee the collection, analysis and review of all life cycle assessment (LCA) data for a wide range of timber and timber products that will be used in the online tool.

The company has extensive experience in the construction materials sector and in working with the timber industry, having previously completed a major LCA project on US hardwood lumber for the American Hardwood Export Council.

(Excerpt of article from Link2. NOT AFFILIATED WITH LAMBOO)


As more and more organizations return to the basics and look for sustainable options in their projects, the demand for renewable resources such as wood will grow exponentially. Often overlooked by mainstream architecture, is an ancient building material that can meet these demands, bamboo. As a rapidly renewable, high performance, material bamboo can be integrated with other bio based (or renewable) materials to provide truly sustainable buildings and products. Bamboo has a wealth of environmental and performance attributes that make it ideal for the construction and retail markets.

Other articles of interest:

Wood’s New Wave
Evolving Building Codes: Wood Revolution
The Virtues of Bamboo
Bamboo Architecture and Construction
What Can Bamboo Do About CO2?
Bamboo As A Carbon Offset: INBAR Does The Math
Can bamboo tackle environmental and poverty concerns?
In Africa’s Vanishing Forests, the Benefits of Bamboo
Nigeria Can Generate 24 Million Jobs From Bamboo Production

Bamboo As A Carbon Offset: INBAR Does The Math

b2ap3_thumbnail_inbar-international-network-for-bamboo-rattan-logoCarbon credits are certificates that represent a reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These reductions are accomplished by projects designed to prevent the generation of greenhouse gases: they range from windmill farms to geothermal energy projects to biomass alternative energy initiatives to reforestation.

INBAR has taken the reforestation project and put their own bamboo spin on it for Chinese companies. Carbon credits in the form of bamboo plantation investments are now available for companies.

With so many options available, with so many projects, with traditional hardwood forestry as an option, why invest in bamboo?

  • It grows up to four feet per day so it can be harvested every 4-5 years as opposed to the 25-70 years it can take for traditional hardwoods to mature.
  • It removes CO2 from the air and produces over 30% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of hardwood trees.
  • Below the ground, bamboo’s roots help prevent soil erosion.
  • Bamboo improves soil quality. The roots remove excess nitrogen and because the plant grows readily with no use of pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides, there is no ground pollution involved.
  • Environmentalists are researching bamboo’s apparent ability to soak up excess nutrients in waste water as an answer to waste issues.

With all these environmentally-friendly qualities, what has kept bamboo off the carbon offset table?

Very simply, a lack of math. Because bamboo plants have very different growth characteristics than trees, different mechanisms were needed to measure their carbon outputs. And before now, there was no way to determine how much carbon a bamboo plant can convert.

Thanks to INBAR, the China Green Carbon Foundation and the Zhejiang Agriculture, a methodology now exists that can calculate the amount of carbon available in the massive bamboo plantations in China. (Well, they actually only account for 2.8% of China’s total forest area but considering the land mass of China, that is a significant chunk.)

“This is a really big breakthrough,” said Yannick Kuehl, a climate change expert at INBAR who helped develop the technique. “This means that now bamboo is recognized as carbon offset, and as a tool for climate change mitigation measures.”

According to Kuehl, more than 10 Chinese companies have pre-ordered carbon credits and the money they pay will go towards planting new bamboo forests in China. In a country plagued with environmental issues, utilizing the sustainable bamboo plant is a positive step.

(Excerpt of article from Green Earth News. NOT AFFILIATED WITH LAMBOO)


Possible LEED Credits 

  • MR Credit 6 – Rapidly renewable materials
  • b2ap3_thumbnail_bamboo-forest_20130626-193234_1IEQ Credit 4.4 – Low-emitting materials
  • ID Credit 1 – Innovation in Design (Environmentally Preferable Material)
  • ID Credit 2 – Innovation in Design (Life Cycle Assessment / Environmental Impact)
  • FSC Certification – Available Upon Request

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Applicable LEED Points