Episode 27: Craig Applegath and the Zero Carbon Mass Timber Project

todayApril 5, 2022


Episode 27: Craig Applegath and The Zero-Carbon Mass Timber Project

In Episode 27 of the Constructive Voices Podcast, Henry Mc Donald speaks to Craig Applegath, architect, urban designer, and zero-carbon building pioneer, to discuss his work with DIALOG on the “Supertall” Hybrid Wood Tower and the Zero-Carbon Mass Timber Projects. This episode was released on 5th April 2022.

More recently, in early 2024, Craig’s company Dialog, and partner EllisDon report strong progress on hybrid timber floor prototype.

Craig APPLEGATH Constructive Voices ArticleCraig is internationally recognised for his design and advocacy of zero-carbon regenerative buildings and cities, as well as mass timber design. In the episode, he speaks to us about the urgency in the construction industry to focus on zero-carbon buildings, how we have the technology to do it – we just need the leadership and the will.

“70% of all the materials used in a tall building are in the floor system. So that was the opportunity to use mass timber CLT. And, and that was also the opportunity for us to design a long span CLT mass timber floor system, which is one of the real innovations here”

Read more about Craig and his projects here!

“One cubic meter of wood stores one metric tonne of CO2. That’s a lot. So really having a building that 70% made of wood is a way of storing huge amounts of CO2.”

“There has to be the will of the society and our government leadership to drive [a zero-carbon future] down the tracks. We’ve got all the technology we need. And there’s huge opportunities.”

Episode Summary: In this episode of Constructive Voices, guest Craig Applegath delves into the environmental benefits of using wood in construction and discusses the innovative 0 Carbon Mass Timber Project. We reflect on a year of conversations with industry experts, the knowledge they’ve shared on advancements in construction, and the impact on climate change. We also look ahead to the “Footprint Plus” event in Brighton, UK, which focuses on zero-carbon construction.

Main Themes:

  • Environmental Benefits of Wood in Construction: Craig Applegath highlights the importance of wood, such as mass timber, in reducing the carbon footprint of construction projects.

  • Journey of an Eco-Conscious Architect: Craig shares his path from studying biology to obtaining a master’s degree from Harvard, emphasizing his commitment to sustainable design.

  • Centennial College Expansion: The project in Toronto serves as a case study for zero-carbon construction, integrating indigenous influences and energy efficiency.

  • Sustainable Architectural Strategies: The discussion includes techniques like enhanced insulation, electric boilers, and heat pumps to cut down on carbon emissions.

  • Indigenous-Inspired Architecture: Exploring reconciliation in Canada, the show discusses the integration of concepts such as “two-eyed seeing” and the Anishinaabe prophecy into architectural design.

  • Innovative Structural Solutions: A prototype super tall hybrid wood tower is showcased, demonstrating cutting-edge solutions for handling loads and resisting wind forces, as well as carbon storage and CO2 emission reduction.

  • Sustainability Certifications: WELL and LEED Gold certifications are mentioned as benchmarks for sustainability in construction.

  • Guest’s Own Podcast: Craig Applegath hosts a podcast addressing critical questions on reducing environmental harm and promoting regeneration.

  • Communication & Collaboration: The necessity for clear communication on the benefits of a low or zero carbon economy is stressed, as well as the urgency for action within the next decade to avert irreversible damage.

  • Industry-Wide Effort: The episode emphasises the collective responsibility among clients, architects, and engineers to lower carbon in construction through design, materials, and technology.


About Craig Applegath
Architect, urban designer, and a pioneer in the planning and design of zero-carbon buildings and campuses, climate adaptation, and regenerative cities, Craig is a principal and founding partner of DIALOG’s Toronto studio.

Trained as a biologist, and then as an architect and urban designer, Craig is passionate about finding planning and design solutions that make sense in a world challenged by climate change and environmental deterioration.

Since graduating from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University with a Master of Architecture in Urban Design, Craig has focused on leading complex, sustainable planning and design projects, and is internationally recognized for his design and advocacy of zero-carbon regenerative buildings and cities, as well as mass timber design. Craig’s area of practice at DIALOG includes the master planning and design of institutional and tall mass timber projects.

In addition to his professional practice responsibilities, Craig writes, speaks and teaches about his research and design explorations at conferences and workshops internationally.

This has included recent presentations at conferences, including the UN Habitat III Conference in Prague, the World Future Council Conferences in Munich and Beijing, at the International Living Futures Institute Conference in Portland, and most recently, at the American Institute of Architects Students Conference in Toronto.

Craig has just completed teaching a Masters of Architecture seminar course with Alex Lukachko of RDH at the University of Toronto, Daniels Faculty of Architecture that explores architecture and planning for adaptation to sea level rise caused by anthropogenic climate change.

Craig also hosts the Twenty First Century Imperative podcast, where he explores the questions of how will we continue to live on our planet without destroying our biosphere; how will we repair and regenerate the environmental damage we have already caused; and how will we successfully adapt to the escalating impacts of climate change?

Written by: Jackie De Burca

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