Eric Karsh: Wood is my favourite material

15/04/2019 Emmilie Hansen

At Build in Wood Canadian Eric Karsh, Founding Principal at Equilibrium Consulting, will give a speech on state-of-the-art timber technologies with case studies and examples of structural solutions in Canada, the US, France and Brazil. In this post, you can read an interview with Eric Karsh.

The Canadian structural engineering firm, Equilibrium Consulting, is recognized internationally as a leader in the field of timber engineering. Recent projects include the award-winning UBC Earth Sciences Building in Vancouver and the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, BC the tallest modern all-timber building in the world at the time of its completion.


What is your perspective on wood and its role for green transition?

Wood is the only major renewable construction material and the only material that has the ability to store carbon. We are also just beginning to understand and quantify its positive impact on the wellbeing of people who use buildings made of exposed wood.

Wood has been shown to lower stress and heart rate and improve concentration and productivity by up to 8% among other things. Some studies have shown that this improvement in productivity in office buildings can potentially pay for the cost of the building over a relatively short period.


How do you and Equilibrium work with wood?

Since founding Equilibrium in 1998, we have designed hundreds of heavy and mass timber buildings for all types of uses including custom homes, schools from elementary to university facilities, sports facilities including pools and soccer stadiums, airports, museums and recently high-rises.

Through global technical and design innovation over the last few decades, it is our position that timber has become a high-tech material with the same status as other major construction materials.


From your perspective, what are the challenges and opportunities of building with wood?

Technologically – wood has been demonstrated to be appropriate for most building types. The main challenges currently reside in the supply chain, which is just beginning to develop on a large scale.

Timber designers, product suppliers, manufacturers and installers are still relatively few compared to those in other industries however market capacity is growing rapidly.


From your perspective, how far is the building industry with sustainability?

In real terms, this area of expertise in construction is at a relatively early stage of development. Measurable sustainable design really became mainstream in the construction industry two or three decades ago. There is still a lot of room for adoption, innovation and development.


Do you have projects in Denmark and knowledge about the Danish building industry, and the potential of building more with wood?

We currently have projects in Sweden and France but not in Denmark. My understanding of the Danish timber market is primarily limited to discussions with Dagmar Øye, a Danish student who recently did a practicum with us and is now a practicing engineer with MOE. I understand there is significant and growing interest in timber construction in Denmark but few completed projects. I trust this will soon change.


What will you be talking about at Build in Wood 2019, and will there be any specific key take-aways?

My goal will be to demonstrate the capabilities of wood and convince the audience that timber has earned the status of a truly high-tech material. I also hope to inspire local designers to use and experiment more with this great construction material.


What cases will you talk about at Build in Wood 2019?

I will try to strike a balance between demonstrating the amazing capabilities of wood while providing relevant details about structural solutions, integration with other disciplines and construction issues.


Why have you decided to attend Build in Wood 2019 as a speaker?

Dagmar has been a passionate advocate for timber construction in Denmark for as long as I have known her, and she encouraged me to make the trip. It did not require much arm twisting.


Do you have something extra to add?

As an engineer, I work with all major construction materials, however wood is by far my favorite. It can be more challenging because it is often intended to be left exposed and therefore requires the structural engineer to truly work in an integrated manner with the other members of the team but as a result, it is also often that much more rewarding.


Do you want to hear more about wood and Eric Karsh?

Join us at Build in Wood at Docken on 22-23 May, where we gather the building industry to discuss the potential of building with wood.

Sign up here


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