I've been loosely following the work of Vancouver-based sustainable architect Michael Green, one of the architecture's most outspoken (and only?) wooden skyscraper proselytizer/visionary for a while now but it wasn't until I watched his TED talk (presented back in February but released on video last week), however, that I really began to fully grasp what he's going at.

And to say that I'm intrigued would be a severe understatement.

Thirty-story (or taller) structures built from timber panels in lieu of concrete and steel may seem bonkers/terrifying, but as Green explains, they are totally feasible — the future of green building that will meet increased housing demand without increased carbon emissions. (Side note: 3 percent of the world's energy goes into making steel while 5 percent goes into making concrete).

... I believe that we have ethic that the Earth grows our food, and we need to move to an ethic in this century that the Earth should grow our homes.
... I believe wood is the most technologically advanced material I can build with. It just happens to be that Mother Nature holds the patent, and we don't really feel comfortable with it. But that's the way it should be, nature's fingerprints in the built environment.
I'm looking for this opportunity to create an Eiffel Tower moment, we call it. Buildings are starting to go up around the world. There's a building in London that's nine stories, a new building that just finished in Australia that I believe is 10 or 11. We're starting to push the height up of these wood buildings, and we're hoping, and I'm hoping, that my hometown of Vancouver actually potentially announces the world's tallest at around 20 stories in the not-so-distant future. That Eiffel Tower moment will break the ceiling, these arbitrary ceilings of height, and allow wood buildings to join the competition. And I believe the race is ultimately on.

More Michael Green and the good word of wood over at TED. Lloyd Alter over at sister site TreeHugger has also profiled a handful of Green's carbon-sequestering creations including the Wood Innovation Design Centre in British Columbia and his towering pièce de résistance, TallWood.

Promo image: Michael Green Architecture

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Michael Green and the case for wooden skyscrapers [Video]
Tree-loving Canadian architect Michael Green gives a fascinating TED talk on why our skyscrapers should be erected from wood, not concrete and steel.