Epsom Tennis Club Fordingbridge timber barrel vault canopy

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of using timber as a building material is that it is a natural resource and if harvested in the sustainable manner, makes timber, in these terms, a very ‘green’ choice.

If forests are suitably managed, supplies could be maintained indefinitely for minimal carbon emissions, and the purpose of the various certification schemes is to ensure this. For instance, if timber is FSC/PEFC certified, a sustainable forestry/source is guaranteed. FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council. This is an organization which started in the 1990s to improve how the world’s forests are managed. FSC standards have been developed to protect the forests’ biodiversity and ecological processes.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization which promotes sustainable forest management through independent third party certification. Another environmental positive is, despite the energy requirements for glulam manufacture in the felling, sawing, transportation, manufacture of the glue etc., it is still far less than for steel and concrete.

The appearance of timber, in terms of its colour range and surface texture, is often the primary appeal when clients or specifiers select this material. Timber has visual warmth and tactile qualities which are not met by, the sometimes perceived coldness of steel.

In the world of large span canopies and buildings, it has been found using Glulam (Glulaminated Timber) holds many benefits to all involved. Glulam has been specified on some high profile projects, such as constructing the rather impressive and visually stunning entrance canopy on the D1 Tower in Dubai. And more down to earth projects like Veolia’s 214,000 tonne per year waste to energy and recycling facility in Leeds.

The timber framed and glazed structure is 42m in height, 125m long and 35m wide, making it one of the largest facilities of this type in Europe. So the application of glulam is widespread and far reaching. This is due to the many benefits. Not only is the material itself aesthetically pleasing, Glulam is extremely reliable and very adaptable in design. The durability depends on its specification i.e the species of timber, type of glue and preservative type and application.

Timber also has a good strength to weight ratio in comparison with steel and concrete. If you consider equivalent beam sizes for the same load bearing capacity in glulam and steel, glulam has approximately 1.5 – 2 times the strength to weight ratio of steel resulting in smaller foundations needed for a reduced structure weight, therefore keeping install time to a minimum and the added advantages of reduced foundation loads and creates ease of erection.

As a well-established and versatile material, the longevity of glulam has long been recognised – there are documented examples of its use around two hundred years ago, whilst a number of structures more than 150 years old are still standing. Source: Glued Laminated Timber Association.

There are also extra performance advantages which include carefully prescribed design procedures, fully backed by tests and theories, to ensure structural fire resistance. Large section timber elements actually perform very well in fires. This is due to the way in which timber chars at a known rate and does not deform like steel. Fire performance of glulam has been the subject of extensive research and structural glulam members can be designed to last a certain period of time in a fire based on the rate at which it chars. Additional fire protective finishes can be used to further increase the fire performance. For this reason, Glulam beams can attract lower fire insurance premiums than steelwork.

Glulam also has high resistance in corrosive and exposed environments. This makes guaranteeing structures an easy job, as trust can be given to the material standing the test of time. As the material will not rust or spall and is not affected by corrosion, peace of mind can be given when specifying glulam in coastal regions, sports halls even applications for Garden Centre canopies, because the timber aesthetic adds to the ambiance of the customer experience. Use of timber for school canopies adds a soft appearance to the newly created outdoor environment.

Using glulam lends itself to keeping to the all important project timescales. Designed, manufactured and erected with pre-engineered precision and off site fabrication, glulam timber structures are completed with on-site time and cost savings by increased building speed.

For more information on how we use glulam in our structures, please email info@fordingbridge.co.uk or call 01243 55 44 55


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