The world population has just surpassed the 8 billion mark and is continuing to grow exponentially. Within the next 2 decades it is predicted that around 70% of the world population will live in an urban center. Because of this rapid urban expansion, the construction industry will need to be able build upward, not outward, and quickly.

Europe has been leading the way in sustainable design with the creation of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glulam since the early 1990’s and now they are beginning to change the construction industry as well. Austrian company Cree GmbH, the sister company to the American version, Cree Buildings, located in Berkeley, California, created a modular building system that is shaking up the construction industry.

The wood and concrete hybrid panel, made of Glulam and concrete, can streamline the construction of an 8-story high rise to under 10 days. Additionally, the prefabricated, modular system is lighter in weight than steel reinforced concrete slabs.

Research has shown that when compared to a reinforced concrete building, a 20-story high-performance timber building could reduce CO2 emissions by 90% and could shorten construction times by 50% which will be necessary for the growing urban centers. The slabs are connected to each other to form a diaphragm for the building and the loads are transferred through the slabs to the core of the building whether it is a wood or concrete core depending on zoning and building codes. The floor and post assemblies were designed to meet the seismic requirements of the San Francisco region which means they will be structurally sound for most global environments.

One example of the use of the CREE building panels is in the LCT One. LCT stands for Life Cycle Tower. The structure which stands 8-stories tall in Dornbirn, Austria has a footprint of 40’ by 80’ (12.19m x 24.38m). With the use of the CREE building panels the armature of the structure was able to be assembled in 8 days with only five construction works. The building was built to Passive Haus standards and received a gold designation for the German Sustainable Building Council as well as a LEED platinum designation, with 85 points, from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The CREE panel shows us that there is a way to build sustainably, structurally-sound and quickly as our global family continues to grow.


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