PROGRAM UPDATESTurning Mass Timber Interest Into Projects Think Wood Expands Research Library Wood, Naturally Content Motivates Homeowners To Choose Wood AWC Tool Helps Designers Calculate Fire Resistance
INDUSTRY NEWSGoogle’s Sidewalk Labs LLC Eyes World’s Biggest Timber Project With Construction Workers Scarce, Homebuilders Turn to Offsite Construction WoodWorks CEO Jennifer Cover Among Panelists Discussing Timber Innovation Custom Builder Launches Prefab Product Line Milwaukee Joins Mass Timber Building Movement
INSIGHTS FROM THE COMPETITIONConcrete Industry Launches Campaign to Prevent Tall Wood Buildings
Turning Mass Timber Interest Into Projects
Think Wood Expands Research Library
The Think Wood Research Library is a central resource for wood design and construction research. The recently upgraded database enables faster publishing and better search results for engineers, developers and architects seeking answers to technical questions regarding wood construction. Over half of the visitors in Q2 had visited the Library previously. Since its launch in March 2017, the library has grown to include over 1,250 pieces of high-quality research, a 154% increase since that time, including 288 in Q2 2018 alone. The most popular assets include research reports, books, academic journal publications, and conference papers and proceedings. The Library also helps the SLB identify research gaps and works to limit duplicative research efforts by tracking over 80 research projects that are currently in progress. Publications from the research underway will be added to the library as they become available.
Wood, Naturally Content Motivates Homeowners To Choose Wood
A recent survey by Wood, Naturally showed that homeowners’ purchase intent increased by 8.7% and purchase consideration increased by nearly 22% after viewing influencer-provided pro-wood campaign content that compared wood with composites, touted wood’s environmental benefits, and showcased wood decks. Of the media tested, video was the most effective in inspiring homeowners to choose wood.
AWC Tool Helps Designers Calculate Fire Resistance
The American Wood Council (AWC) recently released an updated Technical Report 10 (TR10): Calculating the Fire Resistance of Wood Members and Assemblies, which provides the latest evidence-based design guidelines to support construction professionals designing mass timber and lightweight wood members, assemblies, and connections to meet and exceed fire-exposure code requirements. Increasing use of mass timber in the built environment requires sound design guidelines to ensure safe, efficient, and economic use of wood products. AWC fire research on mass timber conducted over the last year, with support from the Softwood Lumber Board, has highlighted the importance of the insulating effect provided by the outer char layer when wood burns, especially in larger wood elements such as used in mass timber.
Building codes will be considering approval of mass timber buildings up to 18 stories in height in late October, providing entry into a U.S. market conservatively estimated to be as high as 2 billion board feet of new annual wood demand.
Google’s Sidewalk Labs LLC Eyes World’s Biggest Timber Project
Sidewalk Labs LLC, the urban innovation unit of Alphabet Inc. (Google’s parent company), is considering using mass timber to construct a 3,000-unit, 3 million-square-foot, high-tech development in Toronto. Using technology, including mass timber, to help solve urban issues is a particular interest of Google co-founder Larry Page, who hopes the Toronto project will be a test case for potential similar projects.
With Construction Workers Scarce, Homebuilders Turn to Offsite Construction
The growing labor crunch from the booming economy combined with low construction industry worker productivity in the last 25 years has homebuilders turning to offsite construction. Also supporting this shift are developments in technology that mean today’s prefabricated housing bears little resemblance to the modular homes of old.
WoodWorks CEO Jennifer Cover Among Panelists Discussing Timber Innovation
The House and Senate Working Forests Caucuses hosted a discussion at the U.S. Capitol on July 18 with keynote speaker Sonny Perdue, secretary of agriculture, and a panel of experts on the “Role of Innovation and Applied Research in Expanding Forest Product Markets.”
WoodWorks CEO Jennifer Cover participated in the panel and discussed the opportunities for government, universities, and industry to work together to develop and expand wood markets. Cover highlighted WoodWorks’ role in providing education and one-on-one design assistance for projects interested in using wood products. “We’re filling a gap out there to provide choices for architects and engineers. It’s a tool in their kit, an opportunity to design with wood products, as well,” Cover said.
Custom Builder Launches Prefab Product Line
Bensonwood, a custom timber frame design-build firm in Walpole, N.H., has developed the Tektoniks brand of prefabricated building components, which will be available to the building community at large. The company hopes access to the company’s world-class off-site fabrication facilities will push others to rethink the near-stagnant building industry, which is “in dire need of change,” says Tedd Benson, the company’s CEO. “Tektoniks allows the building industry—architects, builders, construction managers, and even competitors—to use our building systems, timber fabrication, and millwork products directly.
Milwaukee Joins Mass Timber Building Movement
Real estate developer New Land Enterprises and Korb + Associates Architects are bringing mass timber to Milwaukee with their seven-story mass timber office building planned along the banks of the Milwaukee River. The growing number of mass timber buildings in the United States has created important precedence to help New Land and its team secure a required variance in the building code. When the project is completed, building tenants will enjoy an interior rich in exposed lumber and natural light, and the knowledge that they are in a building with far less environmental impact than conventionally built office buildings.
Insights from the Competition
Concrete Industry Launches Campaign to Prevent Tall Wood Buildings
With the International Code Council Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings meeting approaching in October, the concrete industry has launched a campaign and website to “Stop Tall Wood.” The campaign features a poll supported by the Portland Concrete Association that claims 74% of Americans do not support codes that would allow wood buildings up to 18 stories tall. Despite a wealth of research to the contrary, the website claims that tall wood buildings are untested, unproven, and unsound.
FEA’s Housing Dashboard
This housing dashboard is provided compliments of Forest Economic Advisors (FEA).