Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a building system based on the use of massive, multi-layered solid wood panels. Although CLT as a construction system has been successful in Europe, only a handful of CLT projects have been built in the U.S. This manuscript presents the results from qualitative research, carried out with the objective of assessing the market potential and barriers to the adoption of CLT in the U.S. Insights from national and international experts were collected using semi-structured interviews. Topics included perceived benefits and disadvantages of CLT as a construction system, major barriers to its adoption in the U.S., and level of awareness about CLT among the architecture community.
Across B.C. and Canada, communities are under pressure to create better-performing buildings that meet stringent code requirements while reducing construction waste. Meanwhile, consumers are demanding high-quality structures that are delivered quickly and at a reasonable price. Modern methods of construction that include prefabrication can help construction professionals create buildings that meet all these criteria.
Furthermore, prefabrication provides steady employment and is good for the economy. The market opportunities are present across Canada and in the U.S., but prefabrication is not being used to its potential due to several barriers:
Negative perception of quality
Fear of innovation
Lack of information and understanding
Unclear economic benefits
Limited industry capacity
Planning and regulatory complications
A concerted effort to address these barriers includes:
Improving products through research and development
Researching, documenting, and promoting best practices
Developing guidance documents so prefabrication is easier to incorporate
Providing national-level leadership and resources to promote innovation
Successfully implementing these recommendations will require a broad and deep national perspective, an understanding of all stages and aspects of wood construction, and the vision and skills to bring together diverse experts and stakeholders.
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