Turning Whole Trees into High-Value Building Materials

Roald Gundersen's current projects is a 5,300 square metre grocery store in Madison, Wisconsin.
Roald Gundersen’s current projects is a 5,300 square metre grocery store in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Rather than chipping trees and re-forming the pieces with adhesive (like OSB), Roald Gundersen’s company, Whole Trees Architecture and Structures, has developed methods for using whole peeled logs for columns and trusses.

Using government grants and private investment, Gundersen’s team has performed research at the US Forest Products Laboratory to test Y-branched trees under axial loads and to test the parallel-chord trusses that join with the Y-branched trees. They then determined the design specifications of whole trees and branched columns, and designed patent-pending steel connectors that tie the parts together.

Gundersen said that when properly engineered, whole trees can effectively replace steel and concrete components. From a strength-to-weight perspective, wood is nearly as strong as steel in compression, and is twice as strong in tension. Compared to milled lumber, whole-tree timber can support 50 per cent more weight than the largest piece milled from that tree. Milling trees into lumber, Gundersen said, removes the concentric, continuous, and spiraling fibres that developed during the tree’s growth and allowed it to accommodate wind shear without tipping over.”

More at the source: Sourceable.net
Thanks to Steve for this tip.

4 thoughts on “Turning Whole Trees into High-Value Building Materials”

  1. How are individual trees tested and certified for use? Without that, the local building officials will not approve the plans nor the building.

    • That’s the first thing I thought of. Building codes are based on standard materials. Obviously each pole will be different. It seems like they would have to pay a certified timber inspector for each batch of poles. That would add a lot to the final price.


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