October 27, 2017

Monthly Update: October 2017


Program Updates

reThink Wood Promotes Wood Solutions at Multifamily Executive Conference

reThink Wood created a high-impact presence at the Multifamily Executive Conference, held in September in Las Vegas, NV, to position the economic, environmental, and societal benefits of softwood lumber and next-generation softwood lumber products and systems among mid-rise developers. SLB and industry research shows that mid-rise developments have tremendous growth potential for the softwood lumber industry, so this conference convened an important audience for reThink Wood’s message.
reThink Wood’s booth utilized striking displays and mid-rise and taller wood building models to attract visitors, and WoodWorks’ expert staff was on hand to provide detailed answers to project-specific questions as well as to dispel misperceptions about code compliance and performance. Conversations at the booth and conference indicated that developers are very open to building with wood; however, commonly cited challenges included: a lack of available low-cost financing, high competition for labor, and a lack of skilled labor specific to mass timber products.

Wood, Naturally Videos On View at Dealers’ Point-of-Sale Kiosks

Earlier this year, Wood, Naturally launched Building Tips for Pressure-Treated Lumber, a four-part video series featuring contractor and DIY media personality Mark Clement, which is now going to be featured at point-of-sale kiosks. Co-created with corporate partner, Cox Treated Lumber, the series aims to reach contractors and builders on topics ranging from choosing the right use category and fasteners for a deck to proper ventilation, board spacing, and sealing end cuts.

Wood, Naturally has promoted the series on its website and social media channels, and now Cox plans to distribute the videos at point-of-sale kiosks at approximately 100 stocking dealers. Cox has already shown the videos at numerous product knowledge events, including:

  • Teachers’ Tour by Forestry Association of South Carolina
  • Structural Engineers Association of Columbia, SC
  • Multiple Home Builder Associations in the Southeast
  • North Carolina Building Inspectors
  • Southern Builders Network
  • Berlin Meyers/Alair Home Builders
  • Weyerhaeuser Continuing Education Event in Winder, GA

To date, the videos have been viewed over 6,275 times with an overall engagement rate of 24 percent. 


AWC and Woodworks Release Updated Heights & Areas Calculator

The American Wood Council (AWC) and WoodWorks recently released an updated Heights & Areas Calculator online app. Users input their proposed building’s height and area for any occupancy, and the app shows allowable types of construction, all based on provisions found in the International Building Code. The basic version of the calculator shows maximums for a single occupancy and equal floor areas, while an advanced option allows users to consider multiple occupancies and different floor areas.
Determining allowable heights and areas is often a tedious, time-intensive task for designers, builders, and code officials. AWC and WoodWorks’ app makes the process more user-friendly, allowing users to identify compliant types of wood construction and maximum code allowances with each calculation. The app is especially useful for those seeking to address mixed-use occupancies and/or to maximize the size of mid-rise projects where wood construction is readily suited.
The free app is available on Apple iTunes and Google Play Store, and a Windows desktop version is expected later this year.

Industry News

New University of Arkansas Dorms to be Built With Timber

Arkansas Online
October 23, 2017

“A construction method rarely used in the United States underpins a new student housing project at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville…The 202,000-square-foot Stadium Drive Residence Hall, which will consist of two halls connected by a ground-level common area, is the first U.S. campus housing project built using what’s known as cross-laminated timber, industry experts said.”  Read more here.

Of note, the Build With Strength campaign from the Coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association issued a press release utilizing their standard fear-based marketing strategy:

“Student housing is not the place to demo a questionably-safe building material,” said Kevin Lawlor, a spokesperson for Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association comprised of fire safety professionals, engineers, architects and industry experts. “Gambling the safety and well-being of students and their belongings in exchange for the benefit of the local timber industry cannot be justified.”  Read more here.



Wall Street Journal Features CLT: The Big, New Thing in Building? Wood

The Wall Street Journal
October 12, 2017

“Builders are turning to cross-laminated timber, or CLT, for a new generation of mid-rise buildings. One of the newest materials in mid-rise residential and office construction comes from an old source: trees. With the emergence of cross-laminated timber, or CLT, and nail-laminated timber (think plywood, but much thicker and stronger), architects are able to design buildings of 10-to-12 stories or more with timber cores and panels.” Read more here.



Lever Architecture Crafts a Mass Timber Office Building in North Portland

The Architects Newspaper
October 20, 2017
“In Portland, Oregon, even the buildings are bespoke and locally-sourced. At least, that’s the case with Lever Architecture’s Albina Yard project, where the developer—Portland-based Reworks—tasked the architects with creating a marquee structure that could be used as a testing site and showroom for emerging mass timber systems built from locally-sourced lumber. Read more here.



SmartLam’s Meteoric Rise

Flathead Beacon
October 25, 2017

“Columbia Falls company breathes new life into Montana wood products industry. The shuttered lumber mill on the northern edge of town, once brimming with activity and helping power the local economy and the region’s mighty wood products industry, sits in silent abandonment. Dust and pigeon sign occupy the sprawling facility that stretches more than 3 acres and is mostly shrouded in darkness from fading light bulbs. It once illuminated the historic heart of a timber empire but now represents a bitter reminder of a diminished dynasty.”  Read more here.


From Seeds to Skyscrapers, These Wooden Towers Are Eating CO2

October 23, 2017

“Using wood to build our tower blocks could cut global emissions by 31 per cent. Timber towers are branching out around the world. Designed to trap thousands of tonnes of carbon within their walls, wooden skyscrapers are more than just architectural statements – they’re monoliths of modern environmentalism.” Read more here.


Material Strategies for Sustainable Construction

October 4, 2017

“Next-generation material approaches must increasingly address material effects both within and beyond an architectural project…The recent surge of interest in tall wood construction is, in large part, a testament to the environmental appeal of “depositing” carbon versus effectively “withdrawing” it in a concrete or steel structure.” Read more here.

Insights on the Competition

Competitive Activity on Social Media

Competing decking material companies are continuing to dissuade the use of wood decking by promoting their products using offensive marketing strategies. Examples of two campaigns below.

1. AZEK continues with their 100% Smarter Than Wood campaign and pushed it out heavily via Twitter over the summer, and continues through the fall.

2. Fiberon is pursuing a similar sweepstakes with user-generated content – asking for images of Fiberon decking, railing or fencing and giving away a $500 Home Depot gift card. Visit website here.

These two campaigns reinforce why it is important to continue showing the great characteristics of wood to our target audiences and counter these negative campaigns. 

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.