December 20, 2017

Monthly Update: December 2017


Program Updates

Taller Mass Timber Buildings Are on the Rise

View this interactive site here produced in conjunction with reThink Wood and AIA. 


reThink Wood Lists Top 50 Wood Articles for 2017

reThink Wood leads the charge to develop and promote pro-wood messaging on behalf of the softwood lumber industry. In 2017, reThink Wood generated more earned media online and in print than ever before, including from top-tier industry publications like ArchDaily and The Architect’s Newspaper and in major national news outlets such as Money, CNN, Nature, Engadget, Wired, and The Atlantic.
To put this year’s groundswell of coverage in perspective, reThink Wood rounded up the top news articles of the year in one convenient list. The articles demonstrate wood’s influence and impact on the way buildings are designed and built

AWC’s Research Helps ICC Committee Move Forward on Tall Wood

The International Code Council (ICC) Tall Wood Building Ad Hoc Committee held its final in-person meeting prior to the January 8, 2018, deadline for submitting code change proposals for ICC’s 2021 Group A standards. The committee has developed 19 proposed changes that would collectively allow for the construction of wood buildings up to 18 stories, or 270 feet, in height. The tallest allowances would apply to business and multifamily residential occupancies.

During their final meeting, committee members discussed and reached agreement on several key issues, including the fire performance of adhesives used to manufacture cross laminated timber, methods for determining fire resistance when applying non-combustible layers to mass timber, and preventing fire during construction. The outputs of research and fire tests supported by the American Wood Council (AWC) made a difference in helping committee members to act favorably on each proposal and ensure that their recommended changes are comprehensive, enforceable, and substantiated by empirical evidence.

Wood, Naturally Targets Content to Defend Markets

Throughout 2017, softwood lumber’s competitors in outdoor applications, including Trex, Azek, and Fiberon, worked to strengthen their marketing and position their products by attacking wood. Trex increased its marketing budget by 20% over the past two years, and registered a 10% increase in decking and railing sales year-on-year.

Wood, Naturally tracks its competitors’ trends to be able to swiftly defend softwood lumber’s U.S. residential market share, including by executing strategic digital and social media campaigns to reach, educate, and inspire homeowners to choose wood over competitors. Homeowners spend, on average, four to eight hours online researching their home improvement projects and material options. In 2017, Wood, Naturally reached homeowners with high performing social media content, including the Wisdom of Wood and There’s No Substitute For Real video series. Each series took a different approach to showcasing what only wood can claim – authenticity, craftsmanship, and natural beauty.
Wood, Naturally’s content across social media generated 7.8 million engagements, with an average engagement rate of nearly 25%, and led to over 32,000 referrals to partner association websites that provided further inspiration and information on specific species of wood.


2018 AWC Standards Approved

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recently approved the 2018 edition of AWC’s flagship standard, the National Design Specification® (NDS®) for Wood Construction, as an American National Standard (ANS). Both the ICC’s 2018 International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) recognize and accept wood design values through the NDS reference found in the 2018 version. AWC’s 2018 Wood Frame Construction Manual (WFCM), which is also referenced in the 2018 IBC and IRC, was also approved as an ANS.

Both standards are available free for viewing at; print copies will be available in early 2018.

Industry News

2017 Best of Design Awards for Office & Retail

December 7, 2017

Albina Yard
Architect: LEVER Architecture
Location: Portland, Oregon

“Albina Yard is the first building in the United States made from domestically fabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT). This new 16,000-square-foot speculative office building utilizes mass timber construction, with a glue-laminated timber frame and CLT panels manufactured and prefabricated in Riddle, Oregon. The project’s primary goal was to utilize domestic CLT in a market-rate office building that would pave the way for broader adoption of renewable mass timber construction technologies in Oregon and the United States. The design approach reflects a commitment to this sustainable technology by developing an architecture focused on economy and simplicity, material expression, and the careful resolution and integration of all building systems to foreground the beauty of the exposed Douglas fir structural frame.” Read more here.


The Future of Framing

The Journal of Light Construction
December 6, 2017

“Lumber and labor are perennial woes for most builders. Lumber price instability complicates revenue and profit forecasting, while the dearth of skilled workers has been blamed for everything from the inability to keep up with demand to rising warranty costs. 

Responses to both issues should include rethinking how we frame houses. To start with, builders could dampen the effects of price fluctuations and protect their margins by better managing lumber use and by using more engineered components—neither of which actions asks them to alter how they build. Over the long-term, however, the better solution may be a transition to off-site building, a strategy that some progressive builders across the country are already employing.” Read more here.


Nation’s First Large-Scale Mass Timber Residence Hall Breaks Ground in Arkansas

November 30, 2017

“Cross-laminated timber may finally be having its heyday in the United States. The nation’s first large-scale mass timber residence hall recently broke ground at the University of Arkansas. The Stadium Drive Residence Halls project and living learning setting is the work of a design collaborative led by Leers Weinzapfel Associates, the Boston-based architecture practice behind the nation’s largest cross-laminated timber academic building at the University of Massachusetts.” Read more here.


Innovator of the Year: Katerra

Construction Dive
December 4, 2017

“The emerging category of offsite construction is one way the industry is shaking that up… Katerra has grown to more than 1,000 employees across offices in four countries. It has a production facility in Phoenix, where it makes wall panels, floor systems, trusses and more. The company announced plans this fall to open a mass-timber production facility in Spokane Valley, WA. When it opens in 2018, the company will be able to produce CLT wall panels and floor systems and glulam structural beams while helping to scale production of CLT in the U.S.”  Read more here.


Insights on the Competition

Build With Strength Uses Southern California’s Wildfires Devastation to Further Its Cause

Build With Strength
December 7, 2017

The Coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Build With Strength campaign issued a statement to “call for safe communities and smart solutions”, citing the devastating southern California wildfires. Once again, it perpetuates the fear factor that this campaign builds upon, and reinforces the need for the wood industry to counter misinformation. 

“This week’s events are a tragic reminder that fire can and will spread quickly, if the right conditions are present. Although our words provide little comfort to those that have lost their homes, belongings or more, we pledge to fight for stronger, more resilient communities in the months ahead – offering smart solutions to a problem that is becoming commonplace in southern California.” – Kevin Lawlor, spokesperson for Build with Strength. 

Read full press release here.


SC Railing Renamed Trex Commercial Products

Trex Press Release
December 7, 2017

“SC Railing, the country’s leading manufacturer and supplier of custom architectural railings, has taken on a new – but renowned – name. Effective today, the company, recently acquired by Trex Company, has been renamed Trex Commercial Products. In addition to more closely aligning the subsidiary with its new corporate parent, the name change establishes Trex® as a major brand name in the commercial building arena…
While historically focused on the residential outdoor living market, Trex has sought to increase its business and strengthen its position in the commercial building arena. The acquisition and renaming of SC Railing to Trex Commercial Products affords the company an instant entry into this market, while further diversifying the company’s portfolio.”  Read full press release here.


Industry Resources

Virginia Tech’s Monthly Housing Report

This monthly housing commentary report is a free service of Virginia Tech and is intended to help one gauge future business activity in the U.S. housing market.