The construction industry has been facing two major problems as of recent— a decreasing labor force and having to maintain environmental sustainability on projects. The industry is having difficulty addressing the decrease in available workers with unemployment at record lows while more people are choosing a college education over jobs in construction and other technical trades.

The practice of green construction, however, has seen much more success and popularity within the sector.

20 percent of the world’s emissions are emitted from the building and construction industry, according to a report by the World Green Building Council. Many building companies have been experimenting with recyclable materials and even products like self-healing asphalt.

A new way to “build green” that has been getting a lot of attention is timber. Once thought as an antiquated material with more pitfalls than benefits, many big cities across the nation are experimenting with “mass timber buildings” that could provide some important eco-friendly results.

There are three major advantages to “tall timber” structures: the material emits far less carbon dioxide than comparable materials, is more fire-resistant than concrete, and can turn out to be significantly cheaper than steel. However, many cities currently have restrictions on the height that wood-based structures can build to, reducing the ability for timber to be used in many commercial projects.

The state of Oregon became the first in the US to legalize mass timber structures, eliminating the six-story height restriction previously placed on wooden structures and enabling the construction of some of the first wooden high-rises in the country.

In Toronto, Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is building a high-tech sustainable neighborhood in the heart of the city that could end up being the largest mass timber development in the world.

Plan on hearing more about mass timber use in a construction development as cities loosen restrictions in an effort to increase sustainability. From New York to Chicago, plans for mass timber high-rises and mixed-use buildings are being seriously considered and legislated appropriately.