New Publication – Environmental Impact of a Mono-Material Timber Building Envelope with Enhanced Energy Performance

January 12, 2023 /
Sustainability Journal

O. Bucklin (ICD), R. Di Bari (IABP), F. Amtsberg (ICD), A. Menges (ICD)


A new paper on "Environmental Impact of a Mono-Material Timber Building Envelope with Enhanced Energy Performance” was published in the Sustainability Journal.


Broader adoption of timber construction is a strategy for reducing negative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions created by the construction industry. This paper proposes a novel solid timber building envelope that uses computational design and digital fabrication to improve buildings’ energy performance. Timber beams are sawn with deep slits that improve thermal insulation and are milled with various joints for airtight, structural connections. To minimize embedded energy and to simplify disposal, the envelope is assembled without adhesives or metal fasteners. The building envelope is evaluated for thermal resistance and airtightness, and fabrication is evaluated for duration and power output during sawing. Finally, a Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) is carried out. The Global Warming Potential (GWP) is compared to that of other wood envelope systems with similar thermal conductance. Compared to other timber constructions with similar building physics properties, the proposed system showed lower GWP values (−15.63 kg CO2 eq./m² construction). The development and analysis demonstrate the potential to use digitally controlled subtractive manufacturing for improving the quality of solid timber to achieve higher environmental performance in building envelopes. However, further design and fabrication optimizations may be necessary to reduce required materials and production energy.
More information on the paper here.
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