February 27, 2020

Monthly Update: February 2020


Program Updates

Timber Issue of the Architect’s Newspaper Offers Updates on the Industry

The third annual timber issue of the Architect’s Newspaper, featuring a look into the future of wood design in North America, is now available and sponsored by WoodWorks. In collaboration with WoodWorks and the Architect’s Newspaper, an updated map of the timber industry with relevant schools, organizations, manufacturers, and planned factories from coast to coast was created. Conversations with four designers shaping timber’s high-tech future with cutting-edge software and fabrication techniques were highlighted along with new international and local building codes that allow mass timber buildings to rise to new heights.

The wood construction products supplement delivers the latest in fasteners and non-combustible cladding along with case studies of new timber buildings by Jennifer Bonner of MALL, modus studio, and NADAAA. We also surveyed leading timber engineers on what they consider to be today’s standout structures.

Click here to read the latest issue.


Think Wood Mobile Tour Draws Hundreds at IBS 2020

Think Wood led a multipronged industry presence to promote softwood lumber’s value proposition at the International Builders’ Show (IBS), held in January in Las Vegas. Outside the venue, the Think Wood Mobile Tour hosted over 800 engineers, architects, developers, and other IBS attendees who were curious about building taller with wood. Among these, the Mobile Tour identified 35 new leads, 11 of which requested project support. Inside, Think Wood sponsored a booth and teamed with species association partners, SFPANELMASLMAWWPA, and WWPI, to provide information and advice to attendees on the use of softwood lumber products in residential projects. NELMA also welcomed the cast of DIY Network’s popular show, Maine Cabin Masters, to the Think Wood experience.

IBS is the largest annual light-frame construction show in the world, attracting an estimated 90,000 attendees from more than 100 countries and thus offering a terrific annual opportunity for Think Wood and its partners to connect directly with target audiences.

Next up on the conference circuit: Think Wood will sponsor and exhibit at the International Mass Timber Conference in Portland, Oregon from March 24 to 26. We hope to see you there.



Timber Trends Campaign Appeals to Specifiers

In January, Think Wood launched the Timber Trends in Architecture campaign to help architects and designers stay abreast of issues that are poised to influence building design and construction in 2020. The campaign dives into six key trends: Evolving Building Codes; Prefabrication and Modular Technologies; Innovative Business Models; New Design Tools; Net Zero Targets and Embodied Energy; and Biophilic Design.

The campaign included a sponsored article on ArchDaily’s website; a blog; and an email newsletter that was disseminated to 60,000 architects, designers, and developers. The newsletter enjoyed both high open and click-through rates, affirming the applicability and value of its content for the audience. A linked report on the future of timber and the built environment has been downloaded over 700 times and led to the identification of 109 new contacts in the Think Wood database. Meanwhile, the ArchDaily article was viewed more than 54,000 times in its first week, with over 325 viewers clicking through to access a linked Think Wood report.

The AWC Releases 2015/2018 Structural Wood Design Examples Publication

The American Wood Council (AWC) teamed with the International Code Council to develop and publish 2015/2018 Structural Wood Design Examples, a new guideline to support the structural design of wood buildings using allowable-stress design (ASD) or load and resistance factor design (LRFD) methods. The new publication includes more than 20 design examples and solutions that cite provisions in the building code-referenced National Design Specification® for Wood Construction (NDS®), helping both designers and code officials to ensure code-compliant design and construction. Specific solutions include the design of lumber and large timber members, wood connections, and wood-frame shear walls.

Download the guideline for free here.


Industry News

Michael Green Promotes Mass Timber as a Climate Solution at Davos

Award-winning architect Michael Green recently spoke about his vision to transform the construction industry and connect consumers to the natural world by using mass timber as part of the Pioneers for Our Planet video series created for the recent 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos. Green sees the worldwide uptake of CLT and other mass timber products as a critical intervention to address climate change.

Watch Green’s segment here.


Remodelers Heartened by Strong Q4 Housing Starts

Many indices and analysts have predicted that 2020 will see only tepid remodeling growth of less than 1% nationwide; however, unexpectedly strong 2019 Q4 new-home sales numbers may boost this outlook. New-home sales in the quarter indicate higher demand for residential construction at the beginning of the year, and history has shown that there is a strong correlation between remodeling activity and new-home construction, with both activities tending to move up and down together, versus countering each other.

Despite this positive blip, many analysts still believe that cyclical recession is on the horizon in 2021 and/or 2022, which suggests that remodeling firms need to capitalize on the current opportunity and market conditions.

Read more here.


Seattle Start-up Seeks to Transform LBM Industry

Yesler, a new electronic marketplace, will soon launch online with a goal of transforming how the lumber and building materials (LBM) industry does business. Yesler will make it easier for lumberyards to find and buy what they need, when they need it, from one digital marketplace, rather than tracking down availability and prices from a variety of mills. In turn, Yesler will also enable sellers to consolidate demand in one place.

Yesler’s founder is one of two executive staff members who were formerly with Weyerhauser, affording them years of firsthand knowledge and experience in the LBM industry.

Read more about Yesler here.


Raleigh-Based Builder Set to Bring Climate-Smart Home Kit to Market

Michael Sykes, a homebuilder and inventor in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been on a 30-year mission to develop and perfect a climate-smart, resource-efficient house kit capable of self-heating and cooling and made up exclusively of renewable materials. His output is Enertia Building Systems’ pre-cut, numbered kits, which will independently sequester 25 to 50 tons of carbon and prevent the release of 4 million tons of CO2 in each house’s lifetime.

The system features a biomimicry technique, wherein walls are made of 8-inch connected “atmospheres” of Southern Pine mass timber, which store heat energy in resin. The sun heats this artificial atmosphere during the day, and the timber releases the heat at night. Cooling is achieved by connecting the atmosphere with the underground earth. Enertia Building Systems plans to license its technology in North America, Europe, and Argentina.

Read more about the system here.


Robotic Innovation Leads to Increasingly Sophisticated Design Functions

Hakim Hasan, a Boston-based robotics specialist at the U.S. studio Perkins and Will, has transformed a Danish-produced Universal Robot (UR5) into an android-like apprentice, able to quickly convert computational designs into sophisticated 3D models. Hasan’s research was funded in part by the Binational Softwood Lumber Council and is among Perkins and Will’s latest investments in robotics intended to increase the speed and precision of developing mass timber and other sustainable building designs.

Read more about this innovation here.


U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities Welcomes New President

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities announced that Pete Madden has joined its staff as president on February 17. Madden brings more than 30 years’ experience in the forest sector, having worked in land management, procurement, supply chain logistics, and renewable energy with groups such as Westvaco, Georgia-Pacific, Plum Creek, and most recently, Drax Biomass, Inc.

The Endowment is a not-for-profit public charity based in Greenville, South Carolina, that works collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities.

Read more about the Endowment and Madden’s appointment here.


NYC Developer Presses Forward With CLT Despite Restrictive Codes

The New York Times real estate section recently featured Frame Home, a Manhattan-based development firm that is prioritizing wood over concrete and brick in the construction of a series of rental buildings in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Frame Home has specified mass timber in its Brooklyn development for its lower carbon footprint, aesthetics, and shorter construction times. The first building, a five-story, 10-unit CLT building that began marketing in the fall, expects to open this winter.

CLT is generally prohibited in New York City, though Frame Home won an exception after adding an extra-strength sprinkler system and special noncombustible insulation to its plans. The author notes that Frame Home is undeterred by the extra red tape and is already planning its next mass timber project, a 17-unit rental that will break ground this year.

Read more about these developments here.


Insights on the Competition

More Calls for Timber Cities as Emissions Differences Tilt Scale Heavily Toward Wood

A growing chorus of trade and mainstream media are examining the possibility of a global shift toward mass timber buildings in urban areas in an effort to slow and thwart climate change. AIA’s Architect Magazine, National Geographic, and others are publishing steady streams of evidence-based pieces citing mass timber’s embodied carbon savings, sequestration ability, and emergence as a capable substitute for concrete and steel in commercial and multifamily construction with regard to performance in addition to the much-needed benefit of reduced emissions.

Read more here.


Industry Resources

FEA Housing Dashboard

These housing dashboards are provided compliments of Forest Economic Advisors (FEA):

View the February Dashboard

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.

 November 2019 Reports (released in January 2020)
Part A: December Housing Commentary
Part B: December Economic Conditions