Although not yet seen as common practice, building with cross laminated timber (CLT) is gaining momentum in North America. Behind the scenes of the widely publicized project initiatives such as the Wood Innovation Design Centre Building in Canada and the recent U.S. Tall Wood Building Competition, substantial research, engineering, and development has been completed or is underway to enable the adoption of this innovative building system. This paper presents a brief overview of the current status of CLT building development in North America, highlighting some recent U.S. and Canadian research efforts related to CLT system performance, and identifies future CLT research directions based on the needs of the North American market. The majority of the research summarized herein is from a recent CLT research workshop in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, organized by the USDA Forest Products Laboratory. The opportunity and need for coordination in CLT research and development among the global timber engineering community are also highlighted in the conclusions of this paper.
As low carbon alternatives to other building materials, mass timber products are poised to revolutionize the landscape of the built environment. They’re also helping to bolster rural economies, because stronger markets for wood products provide an incentive for public and private landowners to invest in the long-term sustainability of North American forests. With tremendous interest in the potential of CLT in particular, prompt attention has been given to its inclusion in building codes and standards, with the awareness that a great deal of research is still underway. In addition to the research described in this paper, the depth and breadth of research on CLT is spreading to embrace other mass timber systems, including the development of mechanically-laminated products such as dowel- and naillaminated timber, and the expanded use of gluelaminated timber.
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Construction Materials
DOI link: https://doi.org/10.1680/jstbu.171.9.661
As the only renewable construction material, and owing to the superior specific stiffnesses and strengths of the different species, timber has been used in major load bearing applications for thousands of years. The advent of waterproof adhesives during World War II and recent advances in manufacturing have combined to exploit the ease of forming and machining this material, leading to various forms of engineered timber including glulam, laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and cross-laminated timber (CLT). Manufactured in lightweight modules that are easily transported, then quickly craned into position and connected to produce eye-catching structures, engineered timber provides cost-effective alternatives (with minimal numbers and complexity of connections) to conventional materials for rapid construction of affordable residential and office spaces in busy city centres.
In the 20 years since its invention in Europe, cross-laminated timber (CLT) has become a widely used construction material in parts of the old continent and has started to attract global attention. CLT possesses numerous advantages as a construction material, including its superior structural and environmental performance, as well as the speed and efficiency with which CLT buildings can be erected. In this study, European engineers were surveyed to learn about their current level of awareness of CLT, the major barriers to CLT adoption, and about the most pressing research needs to advance the use of CLT as a construction material. The study used a web-based survey with a convenience sample of 93 different kinds of timber and civil engineers and/or researchers, most of which belong to a European CLT research network. Results showed that participants think that, in general, the level of awareness about CLT among developers, construction managers, engineers, architects, and construction managers, is low. The majority of perceived barriers for CLT adoption involved its building code compatibility and the availability of technical information. The most pressing research needs for CLT development, according to respondents, are in the areas of structural performance and connections, moisture performance, and market research.
The purpose of the study is to evaluate and summarize any technical or other impediments to using hem-fir in mass timber products. The different mass timber products included in the study are cross-laminated timber (CLT), glue-laminated timber (glulam), dowel-laminated timber (DLT) and nail-laminated timber (NLT).
As the construction industry shifts towards sustainability and owners seek to construct buildings that are sustainable - built from natural and renewable materials, and pleasing for their occupants to work in - mass timber is becoming the popular alternative to traditional steel and concrete buildings. An abundance of information is available on mass timber products and their properties and applications, but little information on the process of actually building a mass timber project. This report seeks to extend practical knowledge on building with mass timber. In order to accomplish this, this research will highlight specific differences and challenges related to building with mass timber; create general guidelines and recommendations for contractors tasked with building a mass timber project; and identify new areas of research. Through interviews with two commercial contractors who have built mass timber projects in the California Bay Area, specific challenges have been identified. These challenges include longer project duration; increased preconstruction time and complexity; difficulties getting timely plan approvals; differing design and material procurement methods; necessity of MEP coordination at the beginning of the jobs; unique transportation, storage, and handling requirements; and different installation procedures and requirements.
Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) is emerging as a promising building system that could help revitalize a dwindling forest sector. However, little research has been conducted about CLT, particularly in the marketing realm. Our paper helps bridge this gap. Specifically, we aim to identify research areas that are important to successfully advance CLT as a building material in North America. Our findings, based on a survey of experts, suggest that the level of awareness about CLT among building professionals in general is low. However, architects are considered knowledgeable about the product. Experts consider that the most important barriers to the adoption of CLT are(a) misperceptions held by building industry professionals about wood and CLT, (b) compatibility of building codes with CLT, and (c) the availability of technical information about CLT as a construction system. In terms of most pressing research areas for advancing CLT, experts consider that it is important to shed more light on its seismic and fire performance, and also on proper connectors and fasteners used in CLT-based construction.
Mass timber construction in Canada is in the spotlight and emerging as a sustainable building system that offers an opportunity to optimize the value of every tree harvested and to revitalize a declining forest industry, while providing climate mitigation solutions. Little research has been conducted, however, to identify the mass timber research priorities of end users, barriers to adoption and engineering, procurement and construction challenges in Canada. This study helps bridge these gaps. The study also created an interactive, three-dimensional GIS map displaying mass timber projects across North America, as an attempt to offer a helpful tool to practitioners, researchers and students, and fill a gap in existing knowledge sharing. The study findings, based on a web-based survey of mass timber end users, suggest the need for more research on (a) total project cost comparisons with concrete and steel, (b) hybrid systems and (c) mass timber building construction methods and guidelines. The most important barriers for successful adoption are (a) misconceptions about mass timber with respect to fire and building longevity, (b) high and uncertain insurance premiums, (c) higher cost of mass timber products compared to concrete and steel, and (d) resistance to changing from concrete and steel. In terms of challenges: (a) building code compliance and regulations, (b) design permits and approvals, and (c) insufficient design experts in the market are rated by study participants as the most pressing “engineering” challenge. The top procurement challenges are (a) too few manufactures and suppliers, (b) long distance transportation, and (c) supply and demand gaps. The most important construction challenges are (a) inadequate skilled workforce, (b) inadequate specialized subcontractors, and (c) excessive moisture exposure during construction.
Project contact is Erica Fischer at Oregon State University
This Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award will create innovative building technology that will enable mass timber modular construction as a building solution to many of the issues the nation's major cities face today. The architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) sector is on the cusp of a significant disruption that will change the way buildings are manufactured, assembled, and designed, the catalyst of which is the integration of building information models (BIM) and automated construction and manufacturing. This disruption will significantly impact structural engineers. With the streamlining of building manufacturing, assembling, and design, engineers will need to take advantage of three opportunities: (1) design for constructability, (2) design for manufacturing, and (3) design for the whole life of the building (considering future modifications, maintenance, and easily replacing parts of the building). Modular construction, as one method to take advantage of these three opportunities, can address labor and housing shortages that exist in almost every U.S. city today and also can provide rapid construction methods for post-disaster reconstruction and additional patient care facilities. This research will contribute to the state of Oregon’s economy, which has made significant investments in mass timber production, manufacturing, and research. This research will be complemented through the development of best practices for using interdisciplinary, collaborative classroom environments to enhance engineering identities of underrepresented minorities and women at the graduate level. This award will support the National Science Foundation (NSF) role in the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program.
The specific goal of this research is to develop a novel framework for robust and ductile mass timber modular construction that can be applied to buildings with varying lateral force resisting systems. Through this framework, the relationship between the rigidity of modular interconnections and overall structural behavior will be investigated. The research objectives of this project are to: (1) quantify the demands in interconnections that provide ductility when the building framing is subjected to combined gravity and lateral forces (seismic and wind); (2) quantify the impact of interconnection configuration and design on the ability of interconnections to meet the strength and serviceability performance criteria for mass timber high-rise modular buildings; (3) quantify ductility and overstrength for mass timber modular construction and explore applicability of conventional seismic performance factors and how these factors influence the adjusted collapse margin ratio for archetype buildings; (4) explore the influence of interconnection stiffness on the behavior of high-rise modular mass timber buildings subjected to wind demands; and (5) explore the relationship between team-focused and interdisciplinary educational practices with engineering identity and knowledge retention. New connection technology will be created and its contribution to the overall building behavior will be investigated through a rigorous testing plan and complex physics-based numerical simulations of archetype buildings subjected to combined gravity and lateral loads (seismic and wind). This research is a critical first step to develop innovative technology that will change how buildings are designed, manufactured, and assembled. This project will enable the Principal Investigator to establish interdisciplinary research, teaching, and mentorship in the area of mass timber and hybrid construction. This research will use the NSF-supported Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel facility at the University of Florida. Experimental datasets will be archived in the NHERI Data Depot (https://www.DesignSafe-ci.org) and made publicly available.