Sustainable construction practices are a growing trend in the industry. We talk about this a lot in our blogs and within our own company. We had the opportunity, however, to dive into this topic with Chris Loftin from Jackman LTD – a company that is currently building a cross-laminated timber building in Kitchener Ontario and that tries to keep green construction practices at the forefront of their company.
All About Jackman LTD
Jackman LTD was founded in 2010 by Eric Jackman. It has grown into a construction management, general contracting and drywall firm that builds commercial and multi-residential buildings. Embracing the design-build process, Jackman LTD takes pride in being involved in a project from start to finish.
Chris has been with the company for about five years. Although he is the VP of Construction, he’s still very much involved in the planning process, attending and reviewing meetings, and working in collaboration with project managers. The small-business feel of Jackman keeps Chris involved, despite his role.
Jackman employs locals wherever possible. From local carpenters, operators, labourers, site supers and project managers, the company believes in keeping things close to home. With this mindset, it’s no surprise that the company does it’s best to stay on top of construction trends and to think sustainably.
How Technology Connects to Sustainability
In the DirtStories Podcast episode with VP of Construction Chris Loftin, we got some insight into how Jackman first got involved in sustainability trends. The main driver? Technology.
In the DirtStories Podcast episode, Chris talked about this, saying,
“It’s definitely an interest and a personal motivation for myself and Eric to keep it on the radar. . . We do both enjoy reading about the new technology and implementing it where we can. We’ve been lucky to end up on jobs where it’s being implemented.
I think that a lot of sustainable trends are not yet financially feasible for project owners. So having an interest in it and even putting it in [the business] mission statement is one thing but really it’s the owners of the projects that have to pull the trigger on trying new things and spending the extra money.”
The mass timber is a really big one, and it’s a major piece of a project that Jackman LTD is currently working on in Downtown Kitchener now.
The Kitchener, Ontario Timber Build
Being a company based in Kitchener-Waterloo ourselves, a few people from the DOZR team noticed a new building being constructed in Downtown Kitchener completely out of wood.
“Mass timber and cross-laminated timber construction projects are much more popular and growing quicker in Europe, and even out West in British Columbia. The wood buildings there are much taller, as well. That being said, it is becoming increasingly popular in Ontario, too.
Because of building codes in Ontario, the elevator and stair cores had to be built out of concrete. In Europe, for example, even these parts of a building can be constructed with wood. That part of the building in Kitchener only takes up about 5-10% of the space, according to Chris, and in the rest is totally mass timber.
They’re NLT, which is nail-laminated timber. It’s basically 2”X10”s stacked on their short edge and nailed together and then capped off with plywood to create these big panels that are similar in function to precast concrete slabs.”
Image borrowed from the Jackman LTD Twitter.
Fire Safety and Building with Wood
We asked Chris about any additional safety concerns or precautions to be taken when building with wood. We were surprised by his answer!
“When you think of wood or a campfire or a building on fire where the wood is all separated by air-voids, which is what gives it its good burning feature. CLT – cross-laminated timber, NLT – nail-laminated timber… they don’t have the air-voids so you don’t get the burn. What you get is a char from exposure to heat. It’s the slow char-rate of laminated timber that allows it to be built with. It chars slowly.”
The Rise of Sustainability
One of the great parts of chatting with Chris about these trends is that we get insights into how people in the industry feel about the trends. It was really interesting to hear him talk about the power of project owners in driving sustainability forward in the industry. Although it may take a long time to be seen as the “norm”, it’s people like Chris and businesses like Jackman LTD that will be leading the way.