In our nation’s history, skyscrapers have come to symbolize the beginning of a renaissance of highly-innovative ambitions. In these regards, American skyscrapers have historically stood for wealth and power with their domineering structures. Taking this into consideration, why not add sustainability into the mix? Essentially what policymakers are proposing is utilizing cross-laminated timber as a sustainable alternative to traditional concrete and steel. These wooden towers, also referred to as “plyscraper,” are argued by advocates to have economical and environmental benefits.
In America’s infrastructure, the operations and construction of buildings such as these accounts for approximately one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that trees absorb and if turned into mass timber, even lock in carbon dioxide. Scientific studies have shown that 1 cubic meter of wood stores more than a ton of carbon. In addition, considering this, some scholars even claim that the average plyscraper is equivalent to nearly2,000 cars off the transit system.
This revolutionary usage of timber in the structure of these buildings also has economical merits. Given its recent rise in popularity, more cross-laminated timber factories are being constructed and thus producing more products. As taught in any basic economic classes, supply and demand have significant influence over the pricing of goods and services which, in this case, means lower cost in timber. Given this recent surge in pricing over the years, the cost of cross-laminated timber is almost equivalent to traditional materials such as steel and cement. Nevertheless, while the cost still remains more expensive, we have to take into consideration that these projects allow for lower construction activity and costs. Eventually, with the price continuously falling, these projects will be even more affordable thus adding to its public appeal.
Although these “plyscrapers” still have their practical barriers to overcome, we must recognize their potential and dare to dream big. By transforming this area of infrastructure, we are fundamentally altering our attitudes towards the construction of infrastructure and ultimately reassessing our perception of modernity.