Forest Service/USDA Wood Innovations Grants
Recipient Point of Contact: Sandra Lupien
Location: East Lansing, Michigan
Over the past decade, interest in and demand for mass timber have been increasing steadily across North America for the materials’ ability to support healthy forests and rural economies while creating beautiful, innovative structures that both benefit the people who live, work, and learn in them and improve the carbon footprints of our built environments. The MassTimber@MSU program – supported in large part by funding from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) – harnesses stakeholder engagement, outreach, communications, research, and education to advance mass timber construction and manufacture in Michigan and the surrounding region. Since the program’s launch two years ago, increased outreach leveraging new mass timber buildings in the region – the Michigan State University (MSU) STEM facility, the Intro project in Cleveland, and the Ascent Tower in Milwaukee – has intensified mass timber buzz in Michigan, where architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms are reporting a steady stream of inquiries from developers studying mass timber for their projects. With this increased interest in mass timber construction come both concerns that demand could soon outstrip supply and significant interest in a secure Michigan-based supply of mass timber.
Some Michigan forest products industry entities are investigating the potential of expanding to manufacture mass timber products like cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (glulam) but are hesitant to make the capital investment without formal evidence of regional demand for mass timber products generally as well as for such products made in Michigan from Michigan wood specifically. In addition, potential manufacturers need to better understand feedstock supply to determine the best location, scale, and mass timber product lines for Michigan mass timber. That means Michigan CLT and glulam won’t become a reality for at least 2-5 years. At the same time, State agencies are eager to quickly harness the forest health and economic development opportunities associated with using wood sourced from State, Federal, and private Michigan forestlands in Michigan-manufactured mass timber.
Nail-laminated timber, a more species-agnostic form of mass timber panels that can be manufactured using nail guns on a project site or in a warehouse nearby, presents a unique “first-generation” mass timber opportunity for Michigan – one that can begin this year – that can help pave the way for larger scale operations in years to come.
With this project we propose to demonstrate the use of Michigan-sourced-and-made NLT in two projects –Shophouse Park and the Great Lakes Boat Building School’s new building – in the Upper Peninsula. We will document the processes and outcomes of these projects and share theme – along with best practices – with key manufacturing, AEC industry, community development, and other stakeholders. We expect the project will increase market demand for mass timber, including Michigan-sourced-and-made mass timber, and catalyze Michigan-based manufacture of mass timber from wood sourced from Michigan and the surrounding Great Lakes. Surveying AEC and developer stakeholders at the start and end of the project will both inform our understanding of the project’s impact and provide evidence of demand to prospective manufacturers.