MESH is completing Timber House, a new, 6-story condominium building. It is the first mass timber condominium in New York. We can build structures typically built in steel and concrete with mass timber and make them more sustainable.
The technology was first pioneered and proven in Europe, and it has gradually permeated the U.S. construction industry. We are proud to have built Timber House and to raise awareness of mass timber’s role in sustainable 21st-century urban development.
What is mass timber?
Modern mass timber construction starts with standard dimensional lumber (eg. 2x6s and 2x8s) and assembles them into thick structural members closer in size and span length to a steel beam than a tree. Those pre-made components can be rapidly assembled on-site like a large-scale piece of IKEA furniture, reducing the amount of waste and local environmental disruption generated during the construction process. The material retains wood’s beautiful natural appearance and efficient environmental footprint, while its structural performance and fire resistance compete with steel and concrete.
Wood offers significant environmental advantages as a building material:
- It is a renewable resource, since new, softwood trees quickly grow to replenish harvested trees.
- Constructing buildings from wood sequesters carbon. When trees extract carbon from the atmosphere to grow, the carbon contained in their harvested wood fiber will remain in a building’s structure for the life of the building.
Source: Susan Jones.
- Mass timber structures require less embodied energy than concrete or steel. That means we use less fossil fuel and emit less CO2 during construction. “Embodied carbon” is a significant share of the carbon footprint of a building, along with the “operational carbon” — the emissions from heating, electrical use, etc.
Chart comparing CO2 emissions involved in material production for a prototypical 7-story residential building.
Source: Susan Jones, “The Emergence of Mass Timber in The US Fight Against Climate Change: From Forests to Cities”
- Mass timber goes up quickly with little on-site waste. Members are pre-cut and prepared to connect with other members off-site in the factory.
- Mass timber structures are deconstructable. At the end of their useful lives the members can be disassembled and recycled. Concrete can at best be crushed up to be used as aggregate in more concrete.
- Mass timber is beautiful. The tactility, texture and warmth of wood appeals to the eyes and to our sense of touch. Exposure to natural surfaces like wood has a palpable calming and energizing effect on people. And because it is beautiful, no cladding is necessary to hide it, so fewer materials are used.
Our Mass Timber Building
Our Timber House in Park Slope, Brooklyn, co-developed with The Brooklyn Home Company, is the first condominium to implement mass timber construction in New York. It features 14 homes across six-stories of construction. The homes feature 11-foot wood-beamed ceilings, and the building has been designed with Passive House levels of energy efficiency. You can read more about the building on its website.