Net-zero-energy building takes shape in Boston

A building destined for Boston could signal a new way of creating residential structures in cities. The cross-laminated timber structure eliminates most greenhouse-gas emissions associated with standard building materials.

Designed by architects from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the design and construction firm Placetailor, the five-story building’s structure will be made from cross-laminated timber. It will be assembled on site mostly from factory-built subunits, and it will be so energy-efficient that its net carbon emissions will be essentially zero, according to a statement.

Wood construction has tended to be limited to single-family houses or smaller apartment buildings with just a few units. But recent developments now make it possible to extend wood up to 18 storeys high.

Described as a Passive House Demonstration Project, the Boston building will consist of 14 residential units of various sizes, along with a ground-floor co-working space for the community. Because the thick wood structural elements are naturally very good insulators, the building’s energy needs for heating and cooling are reduced compared to conventional construction, writes the statement.

The team hope that this building will “mark the beginning of a new boom in wood-based or hybrid construction, which could help to provide a market for large-scale sustainable forestry, as well as for sustainable, net-zero energy housing”.

Image credit: kindfolk via Unsplash

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