Michael Green wants to solve architecture’s biggest challenge — meeting worldwide housing demand without increasing carbon emissions — by building with carbon-sequestering wood instead of concrete and steel.

Why you should listen

Michael Green is calling for rapid systemic change in the way we build. To end the global housing and climate crises, we need to get past innovation-stifling regulations and well-meaning but misguided ideas popularized by mainstream media. His proposal: Forget steel, straw, concrete, shipping containers, and rammed earth. Use wood to erect urban skyscrapers. “When the Eiffel Tower was built, nobody thought it could be done. Now it’s a symbol of Paris,” Green told the Vancouver Sun. “Projects like it really triggered an innovation on how cities were built. Man moves by innovation and [by] aiming for the moon.”
Green, whose projects range from retail boutiques and housing in North America to a sustainable community in Asia, explores the plausibility of tall wood buildings -- the costs, benefits, and engineering challenges -- in an extensive 2012 white paper. The TED Talent Search winner also teaches and mentors at the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA).

What others say

“Green’s Tall Wood [project] is a boon for those who are ready to dive into designing wood towers.” — Andrew Michler, Inhabitat.com, March 20, 2012

Michael Green’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Michael Green

Idea in depth

Why we shouldn’t judge a country by its GDP

April 22, 2015

Analysts, reporters, and “big thinkers” everywhere love to talk about Gross Domestic Product. It has become the yardstick by which we measure a country’s success. But, argues Michael Green, it's also potentially misleading. His alternative? The Social Progress Index, which measures things like basic human needs and opportunity.

Continue reading
Live from TED

A portable feast: TED’s wooden pavilion

March 17, 2015

To build a 20-story building out of cement and concrete, 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide gets released; to construct the same building from wood, 3,100 tons are saved, a difference of about 900 cars taken off the road in a year. Michael Green (TED Talk: Why we should build wooden skyscrapers) builds with wood because […]

Continue reading