- The cross-laminated timber (CLT) industry is poised to be a "game changer" for the wood industry in Oregon, The Register-Guard reported, if more building codes begin to allow its use in high-rises and a greater number of architects and developers specify the material.
- Proponents of CLT say that a structure built with the wood panels is comparable in price to one built out of concrete and steel and can be safely used in place of the more traditional materials as a renewable, sustainable and lightweight alternative.
- The University of Oregon is testing CLT's sound performance and how the material withstands fire and simulated seismic activity. Manufacturers hope positive results will help in getting building codes changed to allow its wider use in commercial buildings.
In addition to benefits for the wood industry, CLT advocates say that its increased use would necessitate more workers to cut timber, mill lumber and manufacture the CLT panels. Some also believe that if wider use is permitted in commercial applications, wood could be as in demand for those structures as it is in the residential industry.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Softwood Lumber Board and Binational Softwood Lumber Council sponsored the Tall Wood Building Competition, which awarded $1.5 million to two winning teams, one from Portland, OR, and the other from New York City. The USDA has said that wood products are currently only used for 5%-15% of nonresidential buildings but that the industry has the potential to provide hundreds of thousands of jobs in the communities that serve the U.S. wood industry.
Earlier this month, designers at London-based PLP Architecture and the University of Cambridge submitted a proposal to London Mayor Boris Johnson to build an 80-story, 984-foot tall wooden residential skyscraper in the city's historic Barbican housing estate.
Closer to home, in August of last year, construction started on a 220,000-square-foot, seven-story all-wood office building in Minneapolis (current photos and video). The building has a concrete foundation, as per building codes, and steel connectors for the wood panels, but the building core, floor plates and structural columns are wood.