Mass Timber: What It Is and Why We Need to Use a Lot More of It

September 15, 2022|35 Minutes
First United Bank Fredericksburg building exterior
The first full mass timber project in Texas, First United Bank in Fredericksburg uses cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels that sequester carbon dioxide instead of emitting it.

The built environment accounts for nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making a reduction in carbon from construction critical to mitigating the effects of climate change.

This episode of the Gensler Design Exchange podcast explores mass timber as a sustainable design solution with insights from leaders who are advancing the building material through their work. The podcast features a conversation with Jean-Marc Dubois, of Nordic Structures, Taylor Coleman, of Gensler Dallas, Jennifer Shakun, of New England Forestry Foundation, and Erik Barth, of Gensler Boston, who lend their diverse perspectives from manufacturing, design, forestry advocacy, and research.

The discussion explains the performance benefits of mass timber over traditional building materials and provides context on mass timber’s origins and its rapid adoption, particularly in North America. The guests detail how mass timber is produced, review its structural capabilities and energy efficiency, and discuss the role of architects play in specifying lower carbon materials.

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Our guests define mass timber and its performance advantages.
  2. The industry is seeing key growth in markets like the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
  3. Its fire resistant properties allow for the construction of taller wood buildings.
  4. Mass timber has lower embodied carbon than steel and concrete.
  5. Architects can address climate change impacts through reduced emissions and sustainable sourcing.
Jennifer Shakun
Jennifer is a Climate-Forest Specialist at the New England Forestry Foundation in Massachusetts. She leads the Built It With Wood program and promotes the use of local, sustainably-grown wood for lower-carbon buidling.
Jean-Marc Dubois
Jean-Marc is the Director of Business Development for Nordic Structures in Montreal, Quebec. In Canada, Nordic Structures is a vertically integrated forest products company providing sustainable built structures to the construction industry.
Taylor Coleman
Taylor is a project architect in Gensler’s Dallas office and has served as project manager for numerous First United Bank projects in Texas and Oklahoma. Whether designing the first mass timber building in Texas and bringing a new resilient building methodology to benefit a new region, or working on everything between automotive retail, iconic cultural establishments, and complex corporate campuses, he uses research to grow his knowledge base on new systems and structures. Contact him at .
Brandon Larcom
Brandon is a global leader of Gensler’s Product Development practice. As Co-Director of Product Development, he specializes in business development, identifying future design industry trends, and licensing for global product rollouts. Brandon currently hosts and co-produces the Gensler Design Exchange podcast, facilitating a dialogue between design experts, creative trendsetters, and thought leaders to discuss how Gensler is enhancing the human experience through the world of design. Contact him at .