100 years ago, old-growth trees were used to make columns, girders, and planks for commercial buildings. Butler Square in Minneapolis is a good example of this applied construction technology. It was a sound construction strategy; 100 years of service is impressive. However, limitations arose from the availability of old-growth trees to be used for this purpose.
50 years ago mechanical designers in the Minneapolis area took the innovative step of applying emerging heat pump technology to indoor climate applications. It was revolutionary. Systems were simplified and installed costs plummeted. It was a serviceable technology for many commercial applications.
Fast forward to today, and the old is being made new again. The fabricated, structural timber industry now makes components to build frames and floors without relying on old-growth trees. To the contrary, 12 to 14-year-old trees are farmed and harvested to make glue-laminated products for the construction of timber frames and CLT floor systems (cross laminated timber).
Application of heat pumps is being used for high-efficiency indoor climate systems. The hydronic water piping systems move the energy around the building to where it’s needed. The side of the building in sunlight sheds its excess heat (aka cooling) to the shaded side of the building requiring heating. This distribution by way of the heat pumps leads to reduced energy consumption for indoor climate and comfort.
It turns out that the many energy-saving advantages of wood when combined with high-efficiency indoor climate squarely addresses the issues of energy conservation needed in this era of global warming brought by man’s activity.
Care taken in the building industry can make a big difference; join the movement!
(see the blog post at this site: “Timber and Advanced Energy Project Planned in the Upper-Midwest.”)