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Now Available: A Hybrid Steel Frames and Mass Timber Floors Development Guide

Mass timber and steel can provide a low-carbon structural system option to help reduce the use of concrete, which tends to be an energy and emissions-intensive materials. Developers interested in using hybrid steel frames and mass timber floors how have guidelines and recommendations with help from the recently released “Design Guide 37: Hybrid Steel Frames with Wood Floors,” a publication available through the American Institute of Steel Construction.

Authored by environmental consulting firm Arup, the guide offers information about how hybrid steel-frame buildings and mass-timber floors can combine low-embodied carbon with the strength of steel and mass timber.

The building industry produces 50% of the earth’s greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of which comes from materials and their production. Mass timber and steel can reduce the use of high-energy and emissions materials in developing buildings.

Hybrid steel-frame buildings with mass timber floor panels allow for longer beam spans and reduced column size versus comparable mass-timber post and beam construction. This makes it an attractive option for market-driven spaces such as office buildings. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) flooring can take the place of carbon intensive concrete slabs. Its ability to be left exposed in places also eliminates the need for additional architectural finishes. Additionally, both are prefabricated, meaning better quality control and fast construction.

“Mass timber and steel hybrid systems have tremendous potential to advance the building industry’s sustainability goals and reduce global emissions,” said Michelle Roelofs, Associate Principal at Arup. “Illuminating pathways for this hybrid topology will help accelerate the use of timber in place of more carbon-intensive materials.”

Arup’s hybrid steel-timber design for the Houston Endowment Headquarters in Texas achieved an almost 50% reduction in its carbon footprint relative to an original cast-in-place concrete design. The original schematic design for Houston Endowment Headquarters was reconsidered to address significant structural costs and a protracted construction schedule.

Design Guide 37 is geared to structural engineers without mass timber or hybrid construction experience, as well architects, developers, and owners who might be considering hybrid structures. The guide includes references to relevant International Building Codes (IBC) and standards, along with industry guidance and international sources. The design guide applies to allowable construction types as defined by the 2021 IBC.

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Arup's Michelle RoelofsArupAISC

About Amy Wolff Sorter

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