October 28, 2020

Monthly Update: October 2020


Program Updates

New Thinkwood.com Attracts 21% More Visits, Creates 84% Increase in New Contacts

In mid-September, Think Wood launched an updated website to more effectively convert leads and increase access to technical guides and education. In the first week after the launch, on-site enrollments in Think Wood emails increased 84% compared with an average of the four weeks prior. Organic site subscribers accounted for 10% of all net new contacts during this period – creating new leads at no paid promotional cost.

The site showcases AWC and WoodWorks resources throughout, as well as linking to species associations’ sites and design tools.

The What’s New section features Think Wood-published and curated content, including new project profiles, blog posts, white papers, webinars, wood articles, and project inspiration. Audience research consistently shows a desire for case studies and demonstration projects. The newly designed Project Gallery offers an easily searched resource to support choosing wood.

The most visited pages outside of the homepage are the softwood species section, the Projects Gallery, and education (which drives visitors to the Wood Institute). Pageviews to the main education page increased 196% (September 11 through September 24, year over year). Content will be updated regularly and site health monitored to ensure wood advocates bookmark Think Wood and keep coming back.


The AWC and Partners Expand Mass Timber Sound Testing

The AWC has partnered with other interested parties to carry out extensive sound-transmission testing on mass timber floor/ceiling assemblies in order to expand Technical Report 15 (TR15) Calculation of Sound-Transmission Parameters for Wood-Framed Assemblies. TR15 was initially published in 2018 and describes a model for estimating code-regulated sound transmission class (STC) and impact insulation class (IIC) parameters for light-framed wood floor/ceiling assemblies. The new testing will enable TR15 to address mass timber assemblies.

A first round of tests was performed on bare mass timber floor/ceiling panels in September, and additional rounds will be conducted soon. When complete, testing results will be paired with existing sound-transmission data (cumulatively reflecting more than 60 unique mass timber assemblies) and will enable the development of an empirical model for estimating STC and IIC values for a wide range of mass timber floor/ceiling assembly configurations.

Industry News

Sustainable Forest Products Can Build Support for Forests

In honor of National Forest Week, the Canadian Forest Industries (CFI) Podcast spoke with Kate Lindsay, vice president of sustainability and environmental partnership at the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), about the forest industry’s efforts to build and sustain public support for forests.

Lindsay noted that increasing urbanization means the industry will need to remain diligent in communicating the value of forests, as city dwellers will have fewer connections with the forestry industry. Lindsay noted that this same population is motivated by sustainability concerns, and so connecting them to forests through the products they prefer, such as compostable packaging and recyclable materials, can serve as a hook.

Access the podcast here.


McDonald’s Set to Achieve Net-Zero Restaurant in Florida

McDonald’s, together with Ross Barney Architects, unveiled designs for a new flagship, net-zero-energy restaurant at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The building features an array of innovative technologies to meet its net-zero goal, including an outdoor porch composed of wood-louvered walls to optimize the seasonal usage of the space. The building will be the first net-zero-energy quick-service restaurant, aligned with the company’s commitment to building sustainably.

Read more and see renderings here.


New AIA Research Sheds Light on Sustainable Specification Practices

With support from Deltek, the American Institute of Architects recently undertook research to understand the extent to which specifiers value sustainability and where they get information to assess sustainability. The research will be summarized in Sustainability in the Architect’s Journey to Specification, which will be published this fall.

The research shows that a majority of architects with specification responsibilities consider a product’s sustainability when specifying, want to specify more sustainably in the future, and see it as an opportunity for growth. However, many think they are falling short, including feeling constrained by a lack of support from their firms or project stakeholders and/or by owners’ emphasis on cost. While most architects turn to manufacturer websites for information on sustainability, continuing education courses are considered the most impactful. Architects are keen for manufacturers to increase their capacity to describe all elements of a product’s sustainability, including its sourcing, supply chain, shipping implications, and options for recycling or safe disposal.

Read more about the research here.


25-Story Mass Timber Ascent Project Under Construction in Milwaukee

Construction of Milwaukee’s much anticipated, 25-story mass timber Ascent building is underway. Developed by New Land Enterprises and Wiechman Enterprises, Ascent will become the tallest wood tower in the world once completed. It is expected to offset the equivalent of CO2 produced by 2,500 cars each year.

In its coverage of Ascent, Woodworking Network notes that the pathway to Ascent was made possible in part by testing funded by the U.S. Forest Service, which proved mass timber’s ability to perform as well as or better than traditional building materials like concrete and steel in fire, earthquake, and wind conditions to meet U.S. building codes.

Meanwhile New Land Enterprises’ managing director, Tim Gokhman, noted that Ascent has attracted sustained interest from investors despite the pandemic and difficult economic climate. According to Gokhman, “The interest in this project is proof that the aesthetic, construction, and sustainability benefits of mass timber have captured the attention and imagination of a broad spectrum of people.”

Read more about Ascent here.


Walmart’s Use of CLT Expected to Have Far-Reaching Impact on Arkansas Economy

In a recent interview with American Builders Quarterly, Seth Roy, Walmart’s senior director of design and construction, spoke about how CLT was a natural choice for Walmart when it came to specifying materials for its new 350-acre campus in Bentonville, Arkansas. The campus will feature more than 2,400,000 square feet of office space, almost all of it in CLT-built structures. According to Roy, decisions on the campus’ design and material selections were underpinned by the best value proposition, with CLT fitting the bill for performance, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness.

Walmart’s use of mass timber is expected to have far-reaching impacts on Arkansas’ forestry industry and economy. The CLT used in the project is being manufactured from southern yellow pine sourced in nearby, sustainably managed forests by Canadian firm Structurlam, which is in the process of establishing its first U.S. manufacturing plant in the state.

Read more here.


Industry Resources

FEA Housing Dashboard

These housing dashboards are provided compliments of Forest Economic Advisors (FEA):
View the September Dashboard
View the October 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.

August 2020 Reports (released in October 2020)
Part A: August Housing Commentary
Part B: August Economic Conditions