Like the English Dictionary, our construction ‘language’ evolves and new terms surface in conjunction with innovative systems and technology. So ‘tall timber’ has entered into everyday lingo.

But why are developers turning to tall timber and is the sky the limit?

This is getting competitive. We at B & K Structures currently hold the accolade of the tallest cross laminated timber residential structure in Europe with Banyan Wharf – a project for developers, Regal Homes. But this will be dwarfed if Canadian timber-building evangelist architect Michael Green’s proposed 30-storey plus Baobab project in Paris comes to fruition.

In fact, we are breaking our own record already, with the latest Regal Homes project at Hackney’s Dalston Lane. This is a ‘beast of a build’. At 10-storeys, the 121-unit development, is set to become the largest CLT project globally by timber volume. It will comprise 12,500m2 of residential space and over 3,460m2 commercial. Only by using timber technology, can a building of this size be considered ‘carbon negative’.

Using solid wood as a core structural component ticks many positive boxes, from reduced loading on foundations and infrastructure services, to impressive thermal, acoustic and air tightness properties.

Sustainability and carbon emissions are also high on the construction agenda and carbon sequestration is another area where CLT scores highly, while its mass timber volume also then provides large-scale CO2 storage.

Solid wood products, such as CLT and glulam, are natural, renewable and less energy-intensive to produce and apply than alternatives. When compared to other building materials, such as concrete or steel, solid wood’s environmental credentials and solutions are far superior. Not only is it renewable, it involves very little waste during production and is extremely carbon efficient to transport.

But, while sustainability is now a prerequisite of any project, environmentally efficient structures don’t need to be delivered at a premium. As clients and principal contractors target more sustainable solutions, we’ve seen considerable interest in optimised hybrid designs, with notable examples including BSkyB Believe in Better Building project and the Subtropical Swimming Paradise at Center Parcs, Woburn Forest.

Through an understanding of the client’s commercial objectives, together with their aesthetic and sustainable requirements, optimised hybrid solutions have been developed to meet both performance and budgetary parameters.

It is clear that the timber industry plays a huge part in our environmental and building heritage. If we want to tackle the issue of global warming, we must embrace the benefits of this age-old building material in both existing and mould-breaking new applications. We must recognise that it is a vital part of our low-carbon future, with the potential to develop ‘tall timber’ sustainable structures at a rapid rate.

Recognising the significance and future potential of CLT and underlining market confidence, B & K Structures and Binderholz of Austria formed the X-LAM Alliance in 2011.

Its aim was to develop delivery of CLT supply to the UK construction market and provide knowledge and data needed for an ambitious sector to create solid wood structures from design through to installation.