Evaluating the Feasibility of Mass Timber as a Mainstream Building Material in the US Construction Market: Industry Perception, Cost Competitiveness, and Environmental Performance Analysis
Mass timber has been considered as a promising building material because of its structural rigidity, environmental sustainability, and renewability nature. In Europe and Australia, mass timber materials have been used for many different types of construction such as residential, commercial, education, and industrial. However, the construction practitioners in the U.S. are still reluctant to consider mass timber as a mainstream building material. A limited number of case study projects make it difficult for industry personnel to evaluate the actual construction feasibility of mass timber. As a result, a significant knowledge gap has been created that is hindering the progress of mass timber material in the U.S. construction industry. To help solve the problem, this dissertation utilizes a range of research methodologies and data analysis techniques to evaluate the feasibility of mass timber building materials in the US construction industry. The dissertation focuses on four major objectives that will help the industry practitioners to adopt mass timber as a mainstream building material. The first objective of the study is to determine the existing perception of the industry practitioners regarding mass timber materials. Using industry-wide questionnaire surveys, this study determines the current awareness level among the practitioners regarding mass timber. It also identifies some of the major advantages and challenges associated with mass timber construction. Finally, the study provides several recommendations to overcome the challenges. The second objective of the study is to investigate the cost compatibility of mass timber materials compared to the other traditional building materials. A case study is used to evaluate the construction cost competitiveness of a mass timber building project with a modeled concrete building. The third objective of the study is to assess the air pollution potential of mass timber material. A mass timber building construction site, a steel building construction site, and a regular location are used to collect four different sizes of particulate matter (PM). The fourth and last objective of the dissertation is to develop a multi-criteria decision-making framework to evaluate the feasibility of mass timber material in the US market. A scientific decision-making tool named choosing-by-advantages (CBA) is used to develop the framework. The dissertation produces a total of nine peer-reviewed manuscripts summarizing the key research contributions. Findings from this dissertation will benefit both construction practitioners as well as the researchers with new knowledge on mass timber building materials. In addition to that, it will increase the acceptance of this material in the U.S. construction industry.