January 26, 2021

Monthly Update: January 2021


Program Updates

Think Wood Sponsorships Net Leads and Visibility for Partners, Industry

Think Wood recently led several virtual conference sponsorships for SLB partners, resulting in nearly 2,900 new net contacts for Think Wood’s lead-nurturing program. The shows included Pool, Spa, and Patio/DeckExpo (which were co-located in 2020), Remodeling Show, and Architecture Boston Expo/Industrialized Wood-based Construction Conference (ABX/IWBC; also co-located). Working in close partnership with the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA) and WoodWorks, Think Wood built out wood’s virtual presence across all conference platforms. Sponsorship packages included virtual booths that promoted softwood lumber content, the opportunity to e-blast Think Wood’s and WoodWorks’ content to conference attendees, and attendee contact information. The WoodWorks team also staffed the ABX/IWBC booth and had the opportunity to meet with specifiers.

In addition, Think Wood launched a targeted residential contractor newsletter to coincide with welcoming new residential construction contacts to its email list. Sent at the end of December, the newsletter reached 568 conference attendee leads and received a record open rate of 36% (the industry average is 22.5%). In 2021, Think Wood will continue to nurture these leads via curated remodel and outdoor living content.

The AWC’s Fire Service Engagement Team Meets With Northeast Leaders

Since the beginning of its Build with Strength campaign, the concrete industry has honed in on Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts as key states to push anti-wood legislation. Late last year, the American Wood Council’s (AWC’s) fire relations manager and consultants made a four-day swing through these states to meet with fire service leaders and influencers, including fire chiefs from two major cities, a state fire marshal, four local and two state fire presidents, and the likely next general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters. These meetings enabled the AWC to continue to build and solidify its relationships with the fire service and exchange current data and information demonstrating wood’s performance and code compatibility with regard to fire.

ICC 2024 Code Development Process Begins

The International Code Council’s (ICC’s) development process for the 2024 International Codes has officially begun. The AWC submitted 12 code-change proposals in early January and, thanks to its proven expertise and experience, once again received several appointments to committees that will deliberate and recommend action on hundreds of proposed code changes.

The AWC appointments to code development committees are:

  • Paul Coats — International Building Code (IBC) Fire Safety
  • Ray O’Brocki — International Fire Code
  • Matt Hunter — IBC General (Alternate)
  • Dave Tyree — International Residential Code (Alternate)

Alternates are called to serve if a principal member is unable to do so.

Industry News

Toll Brothers CEO Talks Housing, Design Trends

Time magazine recently interviewed Toll Brothers CEO Doug Yearley on how the COVID-19 pandemic has both heated up and reshaped the housing market. According to Yearley, Toll Brothers is operating in the hottest market he has ever seen in his 30 years in the industry. Toll Brothers expects that the ability to work remotely will endure beyond the pandemic, which is translating into high demand for home offices and gyms, both in new construction and resale.

Toll Brothers is also watching tremendous growth in housing demand in southern states from east to west, as well as in markets such as Reno, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho, prompted by migrants from the East Coast and California who are attracted by warmer weather and lower costs of living. Despite the urban exodus, Toll Brothers is seeing some recovery for its urban properties, and Yearley expects that cities will be fine long term.

Read Yearley’s interview here.


Mass Timber Hotel Opens in Austin, First in North America

The 89-room mass timber Hotel Magdalena is now open for business in Austin, Texas. Created by Texas-based Bunkhouse Group hospitality company and Lake|Flato architects, the hotel is the first mass timber hotel constructed in North America. The SLB is exploring the opportunity to host the November 2021 SLB Board Meeting at Hotel Magdalena.

The design team opted for mass timber early in the design process for its environmental sustainability and swift construction times. The team estimates that building with wood shaved three months off of its timeline compared with traditional construction. According to the architect, “We chose this approach because the system is prefabricated and quickly erected, in addition to being a low-embodied carbon and sustainable structural system.”

Read more about the project here.


NAHB’s Housing Outlook for 2021

According to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), single-family builder sentiment fell to 86 in December, down from 90 in November, as concerns about housing affordability grew. Limited single-family home inventories are driving up prices, while several supply-side pressures, including high lumber prices, disrupted supply chains, and skilled labor shortages, will likely combine to spell longer construction times and higher costs in 2021. The potential for higher interest rates may also hinder housing growth.

Read more of NAHB’s analysis here.


Contractors Brace for Challenging 2021

The Associated General Contractors of America have published its 2021 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook, in which the organization expects declines in demand to stifle job creation in the sector. According to the association’s CEO, Stephen E. Sandherr, “This is clearly going to be a difficult year for the construction industry. . . . Demand looks likely to continue shrinking, projects are getting delayed or canceled, productivity is declining, and few firms plan to expand their headcount.” Based on the survey results, contractors are most pessimistic about the markets for retail, lodging, and private office construction.

Read more here.


Mass Timber a Common Feature in Leading Carbon-Neutral Designs in 2020

Dezeen architecture and design magazine has published its listing of the top 10 examples of carbon-neutral design from 2020, including zero-carbon and carbon-negative buildings. Mass timber construction is a common thread among the majority of such designs. See Dezeen’s full list and accompanying photos of each project here.

Paradise, by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, in the UK is a six-story CLT office.


ENR Covers Mass Timber’s Rise in North America

Engineering News Record (ENR), a leading trade publication among the engineering community, recently highlighted the growth of mass timber in North America and worldwide. The piece cites WoodWorks in noting that there are currently 534 engineered wood projects in design, and another 445 that are under construction or completed, with supply-chain capacity growing commensurately to meet burgeoning demand. Forest Business Network predicts that the number of new mass timber building projects will double every two years in North America in the near-term.

The growth of mass timber has been propelled by growing consumer demand for increased sustainability; however, famed mass timber architect Andrew Waugh notes that commercial developers are now on board too, as their investors demand greater sustainability.

Read ENR’s piece here.


CTBUH Promotes Mass Timber Through Online Resources

With support from a USDA Forest Service grant, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has developed the online “Timber Rising: Mass Timber Engagement Program” to help build the knowledge and capacity of those interested in designing and constructing tall mass timber buildings. CTBUH plans to continue research and outreach regarding mass timber construction through a growing number of online resources, including podcasts, videos, and published texts. Read more about its efforts here.


Major Changes Likely for Office Real Estate, Design

CNN Business recently explored how the coronavirus pandemic will likely result in permanent changes to how workplaces are designed. Many experts predict that workplace flexibility is here to stay, which will likely manifest itself in remote or hybrid workforces, with some workers coming in daily and others on a weekly, quarterly, or even annual basis.

This shift will inevitably prompt companies to re-evaluate their real estate needs and embark on redesigns to support more collaborative spaces.

Read more about the future of the workplace here.


Hybrid Designs Offer Flexible, Cost-Effective Solutions

ConstructConnect’s Daily Commercial News recently profiled how a growing number of designers are finding solutions to design challenges related to spans and beam depths by combining mass timber with steel or concrete. These designers are often committed to using mass timber for its sustainability benefits, design aesthetics, and shorter construction times, but by opting for hybrid solutions, they improve their projects’ interior layout flexibility and provide developers with the opportunity to extend building heights and occupancies.

Read more here.


Insights on the Competition

New Coalition of Competitors Takes Aim at Mass Timber

The Building Materials Safety Coalition (BMSC), a newer coalition of 17 associations, research groups, and labor unions representing the steel, concrete, and masonry industries.

BMSC’s website and social media channel content aims to promote its members products and disputes and aims to discredit the benefits of mass timber products.

Read more here.


Industry Resources

FEA’s Housing Dashboard

This housing dashboard is provided compliments of Forest Economic Advisors (FEA):

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 2020 Reports (released in January 2021)
Part A: November Housing Commentary
Part B: November Economic Conditions