More than a century after steel and concrete became the standard for building high-rises, the humble tree is making a comeback. Sidewalk Labs, a unit of Google parent Alphabet, plans to use timber to construct all of its buildings for a mixed-use community along Toronto's eastern waterfront. Meanwhile, Oregon became the first US state to amend its building code to permit taller buildings made from timber, as high as 18 stories. The material can "contribute to people's wellness, is beautiful, easy to assemble, and strong enough support to build dozens of storeys," said Karim Khalifa, director of buildings innovation at Sidewalk Labs. The push comes as timber becomes more cost competitive as steel prices rise, and the use of prefabricated wood panels allows for quicker construction. As opposed to the heavy timber construction from 100 years ago, builders are using so-called mass timber from younger, smaller trees that are engineered together, said architect Michael Green, an early pro...

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