Government Supports Innovative Hybrid Timber Floor Systems

Keean Nembhard

Canada is advancing toward net-zero through innovations in forestry and construction. The increased demand for renewable building materials transforms design and architecture from coast to coast. This transformation includes innovations in the combination of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and post-tensioned concrete.

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, is pleased to announce a combined Government of Canada contribution of over $550,000 to the Hybrid Timber Floor System Project led by EllisDon and DIALOG. The project is funded through the Green Construction through Wood (GCWood) Program, a program that encourages the greater use of wood in construction and supports Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy; and the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT), a program that supports its recipients in de-risking the implementation of innovation in the Canadian forest sector.

“The buildings sector represents a significant source of Canada’s emissions,” said Wilkinson. “The materials used to construct buildings are a big part of those emissions; using sustainable materials will help us achieve net-zero by 2050 in this sector and across the economy while accelerating the economic opportunities presented by the low-carbon building products.”

EllisDon and DIALOG’s patent-pending Hybrid Timber Floor System is an innovative approach to the existing concept of hybridizing structural materials. The Hybrid Timber Floor System, a mixture of materials such as concrete and steel combined with mass timber, reduces carbon and increases building design possibilities. As a composite of post-tensioned concrete, CLT, and a structurally engaged topping, it also allows mass timber–based floor systems to be used in non-residential long-span construction that had previously been limited to traditional building materials. According to EllisDon and DIALOG’s study, this Hybrid Timber Floor System means mass timber can be used to meet the clear spans often desired in the commercial and institutional sectors while delivering exposed finishes. This ability means greener construction options, meaningful use of local natural resources, and benefits to the bio-economy.

“The hybrid panel presents a unique value proposition allowing for carbon sustainability, the ability for offsite prefabrication, and long-span exposed ceilings desired by many commercial tenants,” said Mark Gaglione, Director of Building and Material Sciences at EllisDon. “Thanks to the support of the Government of Canada, we are making exceptional progress to move toward a net-zero future by implementing sustainable construction materials in new and exciting applications.”

The EllisDon and DIALOG study is underway at EllisDon’s modular fabrication facility, located in Stoney Creek, Ontario. The facility is an industrial building of over 27,000 square metres that is fully fit for prefabricated volumetric modules and panelized building components. The project will be completed later this year, with ongoing full-scale and long-term testing planned post-study.

“Replacing steel and concrete with wood — which has significantly less embodied carbon — means that tall buildings could be designed to be lower in embodied carbon,” said Craig Applegath, DIALOG Partner. “The Hybrid Timber Floor System (HTFS) provides greater spans that are ideal for open floorplates or mixed-use. HTFS is a game-changer over traditional hybrid wood construction. It allows for the possibility of using CLT in buildings of any type, height, and size at a competitive cost.”

Natural Resources Canada’s IFIT program facilitates the adoption of transformative technologies and products by bridging the gap between development and commercialization. IFIT-funded projects help diversify the forest product market through high-value bioproducts such as bioenergy, biomaterials, biochemicals, and next-generation building products. The GCWood program supports innovative low-carbon wood construction as part of Canada’s goal of reaching net zero by 2050. The program increases awareness of and capacity for innovative tall wood buildings, timber bridges, and low-rise wood buildings.

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