November 27, 2017

Monthly Update: November 2017


Program Updates

WoodWorks Leads Successful Second Series Blast Testing of Loaded Mass Timber Structures

WoodWorks, with support from the Softwood Lumber Board and the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Lab, conducted a second series of blast tests on three existing two-story, single-bay cross-laminated timber (CLT) structures at Tyndall Air Force Base—the same structures involved in a series of initial blast tests performed in 2016. While a full analysis will be published early next year, on-site observations are decidedly positive. All structures remained intact under significant explosive loading well beyond their design capacity.

Over the next couple months, WoodWorks will be working with Karagozian & Case, Inc., the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to analyze the results of these tests and develop design methods for use by blast engineers across the country.

reThink Wood Generates Top-tier Coverage and Sentiment Ratings for Wood

As part of its role to develop and amplify pro-wood messaging on behalf of the softwood lumber industry, reThink Wood nurtures ongoing and long-term relationships with media outlets and reporters to support the positive positioning of softwood lumber online, in print, and on TV. In the third quarter of 2017, reThink Wood placed 40 high-impact earned media pieces, exceeding second quarter results and reThink’s quarterly goal. Pro-wood stories were seen on NBC News (9.5 million online impressions), Futurism (2.3 million online impressions), and King 5 in Washington state (675,116 online impressions). In addition, a FOX 5 News channel led its 6 pm broadcast with a feature story on how wood can revolutionize how skyscrapers are built.

Thanks to reThink Wood’s efforts, wood enjoyed the highest positive sentiment among building materials in the third quarter, with 80% positive and only 4% negative sentiment. Wood’s competitors such as steel and concrete experienced significantly higher shares of negative sentiment and lower positive sentiment.

Through the use of emergent and innovative media tactics, and building long term relationships with media, reThink Wood serves as the authority and destination for wood news on behalf of the softwood lumber industry.

Wood, Naturally Promotes Wood Benefits at DeckExpo

Wood, Naturally sponsored a cross-industry multi-user booth at the 2017 DeckExpo in Nashville, Tenn. in October which promoted live demos by contractor Mark Clement on wood decking, best practices using wood, and designing and building vertical outdoor structures using softwood lumber. The trades-only show attracts a key Wood, Naturally audience – design and build professionals that can influence homeowners to choose wood instead of manufactured competitors like composites.

Wood, Naturally’s booth featured staff from the Southern Forest Product Association (SFPA) and Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. Wood, Naturally increased foot traffic to the booth by using geo-targeted banner ads, which garnered nearly 150,000 impressions over the three-day expo. Wood, Naturally also cross-promoted social media content with SFPA to increase reach and engagement, and garnered over 330 engagements and nearly 20,000 impressions during the expo.

AWC Promotes Construction Fire Safety to Fire Chiefs

As part of its increased outreach to fire services where information is provided on best practices on construction fire safety to fire departments, the American Wood Council (AWC) is showcasing ads in the International Association of Fire Chief’s bi-weekly e-newsletter, the Bugle Brief, for the next six months, starting with the November 8th issue. AWC’s ads will direct readers to the industry’s website, which provides information and best practices on construction fire safety to fire departments.


AWC Responds to Claims on Concrete Insurance Costs

In response to a recent report from the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) claiming that concrete is “cheaper than wood in building insurance costs,” AWC leveraged the research and estimates of several credible sources to quickly correct errors in the comparison. The report indicated that construction costs for four-story wood-framed and concrete buildings are the same at $140.00/square-foot; however, the International Code Council’s Building Valuation Data shows the average cost to build wood-frame is $110.87/square-foot compared to $127.05 to $158.84/square-foot for concrete. The figure for wood is inflated by as much as 26 percent. As such and because insurance premiums are based on the cost of building replacement, the cost for insuring wood-frame construction is actually considerably lower than reported and certainly lower than concrete.

AWC also  corrected the assertion that it takes the same amount of time – 15 months – to build a wood-framed building as it does concrete buildings, when wood-frame construction is consistently faster. Insurance during construction is based on the duration of construction, and is thus less for wood than reported.

Correcting these errors in the report’s insurance premium calculations would reduce the premium for the wood-framed building considerably. To date, few media outlets have picked up on NRMCA’s story; AWC continues to monitor its distribution in order to promptly correct the report’s  claims. The Build With Strength campaign did send out a memo addressing AWC’s claims. Read more here.


Industry News

Proposed Goose Island Office Building Would Be 6-Story All-Wood Tower

Chicago Tribune
November 9, 2017

“A shuttered Goose Island lumberyard could soon become home to a type of construction not seen in Chicago since the 1800s: a wood-structured office building. Real estate developer Hines said it plans to build a six-story, 270,000-square-foot office building on Division Street that would become the largest mass timber structure built in the United States in the modern construction era… ‘People think about wood and the natural question is about fire,’ Luthman said. ‘But with mass timber, if there was a fire the wood would char rather than burn. There’s been a lot of research done, and it’s as safe or safer than building with steel and concrete.’” Read more here.


Robbins Lumber Named Champion of Economic Development

Village Soup
November 3, 2017

“The Maine Development Foundation Honored Robbins Lumber Inc. as a “Champion of Economic Development” at the foundation’s recent annual meeting in Bangor.  In the spirit of the annual meeting theme — “Attract, Build, Retain: Talent for Maine” — Robbins Lumber was honored for its long history of sustainable forest management and investment in and eye to the future.” Read more here.


Is Mass Timber Really Sustainable?

The Architects Newspaper
November 20, 2017

“Although well over 90 percent of one-to-three-story residential buildings are already wood-built, there are only a handful of mid-rise and tall timber buildings across the United States, a result of building codes that often prohibit timber-built structures larger than four to six stories. However, thanks in part to innovative wood products, including CLT, nail laminated timber (NLT), and glue laminated timber (glulam), wood construction can be used in buildings as tall as 40 stories. A study by consulting and engineering company Poyry and the New England Forestry Foundation shows that the greatest potential for timber-built is in mid-rise (six to 14 story) buildings, as it also tends to be more economical to build with timber at that scale. According to the Softwood Lumber Board, over two-thirds of the square footage in the mid-rise sector could be made with mass timber. These statistics combined, in addition to the taller structures that mass timber can create, have the potential to make a sizable dent in our CO2 and fossil fuel emissions.” Read more here.


Modern Prefabricated Classrooms No Long A Second-Rate Alternative, Expert Says

Commercial RealEstate
November 24, 2017

“Kids are likely to learn quicker and be much happier in well-designed, smartly-engineered prefabricated school classrooms than in traditional permanent buildings, an expert architect claims…The use of mass timber products delivers a very high design outcome and the quality, visual appeal and atmosphere of highly engineered, clear finished, treated timber is very warm and supportive of an excellent teaching and learning environment.” Read more here.


Cross-Laminated Timber Could Be Low-Carbon Building Material of the Future

Construction Climate Change
November 3, 2017
“As more construction firms look to reduce their carbon footprint by sourcing alternative, low-carbon building materials, Europe’s largest forest-based products company Stora Enso has stepped up investment in its very sustainable cross-laminated timber (CLT) products. Many companies view CLT solutions as the ideal replacement for carbon-intensive concrete and steel structures.” Read more here.

Insights on the Competition

Build With Strength’s Campaign Against Wood Continues

National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Build With Strength Campaign continues to closely follow the successes in the wood industry. A number of press releases have gone out this month with very pointed opinions disparaging the use of wood in buildings; this reinforces the importance of continued pro-wood messaging via the softwood lumber industry.

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.