Could mass timber construction help ease the housing crisis?

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A timber framed house under construction

Mass timber construction is gaining traction in Ontario thanks to its many environmental benefits alongside the ongoing housing shortage.  

Choosing mass timber is a major step towards provincewide sustainability. Among wood’s standout features is its low carbon footprint. Unlike concrete and steel, it stores carbon instead of producing it, which supports Ontario's ambitious goal of reducing emissions to net-zero by 2050.

In addition to its environmental benefits, mass timber construction has also helped developers to complete projects more quickly.

Prefabricated timber panels can cut construction time by 25%, as shown by a Vancouver developer completing a three-storey restaurant/office in just eight days. The project also helped to limit traffic disruption in a busy area of the city, and the use of hand tools in assembling panels on site proved much quieter and cheaper than using conventional construction machinery.

For property managers, mass timber can be a market differentiator. The eco-friendly appeal and warm, natural aesthetic of wood structures could both attract modern tenants seeking energy-efficient living spaces and potentially command premium rents.

In 2022, Toronto launched a mass timber pilot program aimed at accelerating housing delivery. A city-owned site on Dundas Street West is set to transform into a sustainable residential building, featuring at least 100 affordable rental units and advancing environmentally-conscious urban development.

A number of other mass timber projects have also been proposed or are underway in the city.

More construction headlines

How green amenities in SFR keep landlords and tenants happy – PayProp

Toronto sees second-highest building cost increase in the world – Storeys

Ottawa to launch pre-approved home design catalogue, bring back post-war effort – CBC

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