Funded Research Expands Opportunities for Softwood Lumber
The SLB invests in research in areas that stand to have the most direct benefits for the softwood lumber industry. The goal of these investments is to fuel innovation and to increase consumption of softwood lumber products. Expansion into new and emerging markets, including mid-rise and tall buildings, will result in greater demand and increased value for softwood lumber products.
The SLB has actively funded research as part of its broader softwood lumber promotion program since July 2012 and as a key means to multiply overall return on investment to the industry. To date, the SLB has delivered tremendous impact in developing and using research to address market barriers, increase awareness of the benefits of softwood lumber among building professionals, and, most importantly, increase the consumption of softwood lumber.
Organizations may submit project proposals to the SLB at any time. Please review our evaluation criteria and guidelines prior to submission.
To learn more about perennial funding opportunities such as the Mass Timber Competition or matching funds for the Wood Innovations Grant, please read on.
2022 Mass Timber Competition
In June of 2022, the SLB and USDA Forest Service announced the winners of the 2022 Mass Timber Competition: Building to Net-Zero Carbon. Six winning projects were chosen for their ability to demonstrate mass timber’s innovative, scalable applications in architectural design and to highlight its significant role in reducing the built environment’s carbon footprint. The winning projects, which will share $2 million in total funding, were:
- The 176,000-square-foot Vancouver Ambulatory Care Center medical facility in Vancouver, Washington, proposed by ZGF Architects, Timberlab, Swinerton, and PCS Structural Solutions.
- Return to Form, a 12-story multifamily and retail project in Denver, Colorado, which will include affordable housing units, proposed by Katz Development, Timberlab, KL&A Engineers and Builders, and Tres Birds.
- Evergreen Charter School’s 85,000-square-foot gymnasium in Hempstead, New York, proposed by Martin Hopp Architect, Consigli, and Odeh Engineers.
- A 42,456-square-foot industrial warehouse for Alaskan Copper & Brass in Kent, Washington, proposed by atelierjones, Foushee, Timberlab, and DCI Engineers.
- INTRO Phase 2, a multifamily high-rise building in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, proposed by Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors, Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, and Forefront Structural Engineers.
- Killingsworth, an 18,780-square-foot community-centric office building in Portland, Oregon, proposed by Adre, LEVER Architecture, and Holmes US.
Follow the status of the projects on the Mass Timber Competition page.
2023 Mass Timber Competition
In March of 2023, the entry period began for the 2023 Mass Timber Competition. This follow-up to last year’s competition will award funds totaling $2 million to support building projects that advance the goal of aggressively accelerating the pace of low-carbon mass timber adoption in the United States. The competition entry deadline was May 5, 2023, and results will be announced during National Forest Products Week, October 15-20, 2023. To learn more about the competition, visit the program page.
2021 and 2022 Wood Innovations Grant Projects
In 2021, the SLB funded three projects under the USDA Forest Service 2021 Wood Innovations Grant (WIG) program, which explores traditional wood project expansions, growth for wood energy markets, and the promotion of wood as a natural and economical construction material for commercial buildings.
- Demonstration of a Cost-Effective CLT Panel Capable of Resisting DOS/DOD Design Basis Threats – Phase I
Karagozian & Case (K&C), a science and engineering firm based in California, proposed to develop and execute a two-phase testing program to demonstrate the blast-resistance capability of cross laminated timber (CLT). If the effort is successful, K&C will pursue blast testing on reinforced CLT panels in a follow-on second phase. K&C was awarded $50,000 in matching funds provided by the SLB for this project.
- Advancement of Timber Panels as Structural Elements in Composite Floor Systems of Timber-Steel Hybrid Structures
Auburn University’s (AU) College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment began a two-year project to establish a preliminary design for a timber-steel composite system utilizing CLT or laminated veneer lumber (LVL) to improve the structural performance for buildings six stories or more. AU was awarded $50,000 in matching funds provided by the SLB for this project.
In 2022, the USDA awarded over $32 million under the WIG program. The SLB in turn offered over $272,000 in matched funds to six winning projects specifically to elevate the use of mass timber in commercial and residential construction applications:
- Waechter Architecture and KPFF Consulting Engineers to identify barriers to the competitive construction of all-wood buildings.
- Karagozian & Case Inc. and SmartLam to conduct blast and hygrothermal testing to assess the performance of reinforced cross laminated timber (CLT) panels under extreme conditions.
- Equilibrium Consulting to advance and disseminate its CLT Design Tools project, which aims to improve the efficiency of CLT floor, roof, and wall design.
- The Georgia Forestry Foundation to develop a mass timber demonstration project with the Georgia Institute of Technology.
- Sustainable Northwest to launch its Building Projects With Positive Impact project, which will support intentional wood procurement for five pilot projects across different scales, ownership, and construction types.
- The Neutral Project to conduct architecture, engineering, fire safety, building code, sustainability, and preconstruction-cost analyses for two mass timber high-rise, residential developments.
The SLB will continue to share the outcomes and lessons generated by these groundbreaking projects as part of an overall effort to promote the benefits and uses of softwood lumber in residential and commercial construction.
Wood Innovations Grant Projects, 2023 Update
Several projects funded in previous years by USDA Forest Service Wood Innovations Grants and supported by matching funds from the SLB have made significant progress—opening up new market opportunities for the softwood lumber industry.
- This includes a 14-story wood development in Madison, Wisconsin, dubbed Baker’s Place. Madison-based Angus-Young Associates is the architect and structural engineer for the mixed-use development, and Michael Green Architecture is the project designer.
- Another one-of-a-kind project to receive funding was an all-wood, three-story building in Portland, Oregon, designed by Waechter Architecture, demonstrating just how much of a building can be constructed using exposed timber components.
- Blast testing research conducted by science and engineering consulting firm Karagozian & Case is being funded to investigate whether reinforced CLT can meet Department of State protective design requirements cost-effectively. It’s expected this research will be able to show how mass timber can be used to build blast-resistant structures, opening new markets for building types such as courthouses, embassies, federal facilities, and emergency call centers.
- This year saw the launch of a suite of CLT design tools developed by structural engineering firm Equilibrium. The interactive spreadsheet helps engineers design CLT floors, roofs, and walls to meet the latest building codes and standards with greater speed and accuracy.
Initiatives for Increased Carbon and Sustainability Transparency in Wood Products
The SLB has funded an initiative for carbon transparency projects in partnership with the United States Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment), the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO), the American Wood Council, and other industry partners. The SLB will lead, execute, and finance three projects that help to develop a more complete accounting of wood’s carbon impact, increasing transparency and showing how wood products and forests mitigate carbon emissions and the impacts of climate change.
- A Wood Supply Shed Carbon Balance Tool would be a credible and transparent digital tool to report growth/drain by wood supply area. This tool could be used to report land carbon value for reporting to the GHG Protocol as well as provide an “A0” add-on (‘A zero’ – a new life cycle stage that would include carbon on land) to the North American Wood Products environmental product declarations (EPDs) in the EC3 database.
- The Wood Sourcing Transparency Tool is designed to provide sustainability and forest certification data in a framework that is practical and easily accessed. The tool targets the AEC community, which is interested in sustainability metrics associated with specified wood products and confused about the differences between forest management certification, fiber supply certification, and the sustainability metrics and assurances.
- The A4 Transportation Tool will make available the average CO2 equivalent transportation to site metric (A4) for each region based on data about where products come from and modes of transportation and distances. The tool will be available to life cycle assessment (LCA) databases and whole-building LCA tools, such as BT/Tally, Athena Impact Estimator, and OneClick.