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MASS TIMBER:
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

RISKS, LIABILITIES & SUPPLY CHAIN CHALLENGES.

Review the Facts & Join the Conversation

Markets and legislatures across the Pacific Northwest and beyond are moving to subsidize and promote engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT). While recent studies are casting serious doubt about the safety, resiliency, sustainability, and efficiency of these products, CLT has been adopted into to 2021 International Building Code (IBC).

How are engineers, designers, and project teams to deal with the complications and unknown variables inherent in such an unproven material? As concerns spread about increased construction costs and extended production schedules, what data and analysis are available? Now, more than ever, owners are concerned about risks to their projects. Be prepared to have informed discussions around material selection with your clients and project teams by viewing the resources below. 
Scroll down to learn more about: 

  • Supply chain and schedule risks from limited CLT availability  

  • Lack of experienced labor to install CLT and resultant volume of RFIs 

  • Schedule risk of early owner design decisions required for prefabrication   

  • Negative impacts from limited value analysis/engineering options  

  • Other risks of cross-laminated timber you should consider in design 

  • Risks and mitigation strategies for CLT construction 

  • The complexities of CLT additions to the International Building Code (IBC)

  • The current legal perspective on building with CLT 

  • The impact of CLT on insurance rates and project liabilities 

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UNDARK MAGAZINE

CLT is today’s hottest sustainable construction material, but can it really slow climate change?

"But CLT’s Pacific Northwest juggernaut is lacking in one crucial element: Proof that it will really help slow climate change ... Some forest scientists and climate experts are raising tough questions about the carbon-cutting dividends of cross-laminated timber construction in the Pacific Northwest, and the wisdom of boosting the region’s wood harvests."

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PARKER SMITH & FEEK INSURANCE

The Proliferation and Risk Considerations of Mass Timber

"First off, CLT is considered fire resistant, not fire resistive. Although it meets the two-hour fire ratings due to its charring properties, it is still a combustible product and will continue to burn until extinguished. Unlike steel, this key underwriting consideration will affect the cost of property insurance during the course of construction and after completion."

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THE REAL DEAL

Warped lumber, failed projects: TRD investigates Katerra, SoftBank’s $4B construction startup

"Another issue that has caused friction among clients are cost overruns. One problem, former employees say, was a flawed process the company used to price jobs ... Some projects have been abandoned altogether. Internal documents obtained by TRD show that of 57 projects [the company] was overseeing in the U.S. at the end of January 2019, nearly a dozen appear to be dead or have halted".

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PROPUBLICA

What Happened When a Public Institute Became a De Facto Lobbying Arm of the Timber Industry

"The research, published that March, calculated for the first time how much carbon was lost to the atmosphere as a result of cutting trees in Oregon. It concluded that logging, once thought to have no negative effect on global warming, was among the state’s biggest climate polluters ... The findings alarmed forest industry leaders in Oregon, who quickly assembled scientists and lobbyists to challenge the study and its authors.

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ENGINEERING NEWS-RECORD

'Regluging' Oregon State's Showcase for Mass Timber: The project has turned out to be a complicated cautionary tale

"On March 14, work stopped at Peavy Hall after two layers of a cross-laminated-timber floor panel came unglued and fell 14 ft from the third to the second floor. There were no injuries but the failure triggered an investigation that has lasted nearly six months ... the project, intended as a showcase for mass timber products, has turned into a complicated cautionary tale."

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PORTLAND BUSINESS TRIBUNE

Know the risks of cross-laminated timber before beginning your project

"Critics point out that the primary risks associated with CLT are fire-resistance and water damage. When a fire retardant is added to CLT, the result is a building material that yields a high fire rating. However, the CLT fire-rated assembly details are not yet standardized. Moreover, engineered wood products can hide moisture for years, resulting in property damage to the building and a potential inability to withstand vertical and lateral loads." 

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AXA XL INSURANCE

Benefits and risks of building with Cross Laminated Timber

"Design delays can impact production and your schedule, especially when a new product or method is in play. Owners may discover possibilities – aesthetic and otherwise – they never knew existed before, and this can lead to revisions. The building-ready nature of the CLT product means that each revision equals more design and coordination time before production can take place ... Manufacturing issues may also impact the schedule. " 

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OREGON DAILY JOURNAL OF COMMERCE

Supply Crunch for Mass Timber

"Mass-timber production, barely more than a decade old in North America, is encountering some growing pains. Wait times stretch months for new material such as cross-laminated timber panels, leaving construction schedules on hold ... Long lead times also make it difficult for project teams to switch suppliers. If a manufacturer falls behind, project teams have few alternatives. The supply shortage is having consequences on the ground for mass-timber projects."

BUILDING CODE RESOURCES.