Sustainable & Exotic Building Systems

We See the Big Picture

At Fire Tower, our understanding of the science and art of timber framing goes beyond perfecting the union of post and beam. We help create whole-system solutions, including techniques and building materials that elevate the craft – and final product -- to new levels of strength and sustainability.

Built to Last

Through the ages, the craft of building wood structures has offered the world instructive models of sustainable building methods. Moving forward into the Age of Green Building, timber frame structures have a significant role to play due to their inherent attributes:

Durability – Built right, they go the distance. Early timber frames have been known to last for centuries, and with today’s improved roofing, flashing, and other materials, modern structures can offer even greater endurance.

Flexibility – With a timber frame, there are often no internal load-bearing walls, so they may be reconfigured as needed without compromising the structure of the building. It can adapt over the course of generations to different needs and uses.

Efficiency – Maximizing the benefits of prefabrication, timber frames are often built in a controlled environment, a process that effectively minimizes waste in the production phase and during on-site erection.

Sustainability – In conjunction with responsible forestry practices, timber frame buildings are constructed with exceptionally renewable materials and have the capability to maximize energy conservation.

SIP Expertise

Properly planned and constructed timber frame structures provide long-lasting energy efficiency, and when they’re enclosed with Structural Insulated Panels (SIP), this can be amplified to an even greater degree. Fire Tower knows through deep experience how to design and engineer for high-performance building panels, both as the primary structural mechanisms and in conjunction with timber framing.

SIP are typically constructed of foam insulation sandwiched between two layers of oriented strand board (OSB). The panels’ interlocking tongue-and-groove connections, combined with a continuous foam core, form a superior insulation barrier and whole-wall performance. Properly integrated, SIP help create a building system that is extremely strong, resourceful and cost effective.

Exotic Building Systems

We love pushing the boundaries, and value any opportunity to expand the capabilities of timber frames and other unconventional building methods. Our successful projects have included the applications of:

Straw Bales – A renewable resource that acts as excellent insulation, straw bales are easy to build with and offer great wall depth. Using straw bales as building blocks has become a common and popular practice.

Rammed Earth – Similar to the clay/sand alchemy of adobe, rammed earth blocks are compressed into forms with easy-to-manage flat vertical surfaces. Ramming earth to create walls is at least as old as the Great Wall of China.

Cob Building – An ancient building material consisting of straw, clay, sand, water and earth, cob has demonstrated great resilience to fire and seismic activity, and can be manipulated into artistic, sculptural forms.

Tree Houses – Fire Tower has elevated this old backyard tradition to a new art, creating lofty timber frame structures specially designed to adapt to their hosting trees.