Sustainable Northwest (SNW) and Hacienda Community Development Group (HCDC), both based in Oregon, have proposed a plan to demonstrate pathways for building affordable housing with regionally sourced mass timber. In response to the region’s housing shortage, the partners’ proposal demonstrates the use of mass timber products while supporting efforts to educate stakeholders on wood product companies and forest restoration. The project outlines a plan to explore financing options, build one or more prototypes, and perform a structural material life cycle analysis.
Through a Wood Innovation Grant (WIG) from the USDA Forest Service, research was conducted to analyze the history of affordable multifamily housing in the US, and trace improvements along the way. The research summarized in this paper considered the issues facing the creation of affordable housing of acceptable quality at an acceptable price; the social, economic, and racial conditions facing the industry; and the problems created by the acute affordable housing shortage. This paper also presents 340+ Dixwell, a planned mass timber, passive house, affordable housing project in New Haven, Connecticut.
Project contact is Stacey Fritz at Cold Climate Housing Research Center – National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)
This project will design, produce, test, and integrate engineered timber products for a modular building system with potential for national applications. The Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) in Fairbanks, Alaska, is combining advanced building technologies into a high performance and interoperable kit-of-parts building system called “New Iglu” to meet the increasing demand for affordable, flexible housing solutions. CCHRC is prototyping its innovative New Iglu project, which utilizes vacuum insulated panels, with support from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Building Construction Initiative. With this Wood Innovation Grant, CCHRC will partner with Oregon State University (OSU) and University of Oregon (UO)’s TallWood Design Institute (TDI) to leverage TDI’s specialized research laboratory facilities and expertise in engineered timber, prototyping, and structural engineering. The goals are to prototype modular engineered timber structural frame components for the New Iglu system, demonstrate the commercial viability of low-value timber, and disseminate results to stakeholders. TDI will develop frame components, including reusable structural connections, that integrate with New Iglu and meet current U.S. buildings codes and standards.
Project contact is Eric Wood at Morrison Hershfield
The study assesses the potential of mass timber multi-unit residential construction as it compares to traditional methods including concrete and steel in terms of cost competitiveness, cost effectiveness, financial value and ROI. The analysis will include potential limitations of existing building codes, how the codes support or constrain the use of mass timber, including impacts to affordability, and whether further industry and government support of tall wood construction is needed to integrate it into Canada’s housing supply. To inform the analysis, the study produces base case archetypes for concrete and steel structures, and then create a series of comparative archetypes mass timber structures and hybrid structures in the range of 7-12 storeys.
Forest Service/USDA Wood Innovations Grants
Recipient Point of Contact: Emily Dawson
Location: Portland, Oregon
PathHouse’s mission is to provide permanent affordable housing – at scale – for low income and disaster-impacted communities through deployment of mass timber modular residences. PathHouse is designing and implementing an innovative housing production system that will be capable of producing upwards of 100,000 affordable housing units annually using regional wood fiber, and state-of-the-art manufacturing and design expertise. This grant would assist in funding the applied research required to fabricate and test the first PathHouse prototype modules. The structural design of the module system aims for optimum efficiency from a wood fiber standpoint, and utilizes mass timber panels with very thin profiles, between 1” and 3” thick. Mass timber panels produced in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) offer the potential for efficiencies of scale, speed, and safety unparalleled by other construction techniques, and with significantly lower embodied energy. The region is strongly positioned to succeed economically in this industry, due to recognized global leadership in research and development of engineered wood products, and abundant timber resources. We aim to demonstrate that there is room for growth in the market for thinner-profile mass timber products with thinner lamination dimensions. A consistent market for high-value use of small-diameter trees would support the increasing need for restoration forestry projects.
Developed to help fill a critical need for housing in Boise’s downtown core, Thomas Logan is an attractive, brick-clad building that fits perfectly within the urban neighborhood. Defying the typically unremarkable design stereotypes of affordable housing, this striking development provides homes for 60 families; 45 of the units are designated for people making 30 to 60 percent of the county’s median income.