Timber City at the National Building Museum

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

By Emily Bazydlo

On a normal day, walking into the National Building Museum in Washington, DC brings a sense of awe, and the two large wooden panels on the main museum floor add to it. The two-story high panels advertise one of the museums new exhibits, Timber City. The Timber City exhibit showcases elegant models of the wooden structures being built all over the world with a major educational component.

Building with load-bearing timber can have a positive impact on our environment. In Timber City, museum patrons see the benefits of wood buildings. For example, by building with wood, timber locks in the carbon that the tree spent its lifetime sequestering. This abrupt halt in the tree’s life cycle leads to wood construction being near carbon neutral. The exhibit also reminds viewers that timber only consists of one material: Trees. Trees are a renewable resource, in contrast with the other building materials such as steel and concrete.

The exhibit is more powerful thanks to the studies on timber’s fire resistance. The exhibit cites that charred wood reacts better in fires than steel. While steel will melt in fires, bending out of shape, charred wood stands tall and burns at a sluggish pace. The exhibit indicates that if we want enhanced safety from fires in buildings, then wood is the best building material there is!

This exhibit was co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and Softwood Lumber Board. It will be featured at the National Building Museum until May of 2017. To see this incredible exhibit for yourself, be sure to visit the National Building Museum  the next time you are in our nation’s capital. Learn more at http://www.nbm.org/exhibitions-collections/exhibitions/timber-city.html.

To learn more about green building, visit http://www.stateforesters.org/current-issues-and-policy/other-priorities/green-building.