June 21 2018
Cross-laminated timber panels may not yet be regular sights at commercial construction projects across the country, but the mainstream media is taking notice.
Newsweek Saturday dedicated more than 1,500 words to CLT panels, advanced wood products strong enough to use as load-bearing walls and floors in high-rise buildings.
Earlier this month, I wrote an in-depth story about CLT technology and its potential to create jobs and reactivate mills in timber towns hit hard by the 2008 recession and massive reductions in harvests. And just last week, I wrote about Oregon State University getting a $450,000 federal grant to promote mass timber technology, and Oregon's advanced wood products industry with it.
For better or worse, CLT is making headlines.
One of the selling points for the technology is the manufacturing process less carbon intensive than the process of creating cement or concrete. When alive, trees absorb carbon dioxide, and "a cut tree retains a portion of that gas in its wood, meaning a building made of wood is a repository of sequestered carbon," reports Newsweek, adding that a living forest can hold more carbon dioxide "than dead planks of wood."
But according to a presentation from Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild's conservation and restoration coordinator, mature forests cannot be converted into young forests without losing most of the stored carbon into the atmosphere in the first place. While carbon is stored for hundreds of years in forests, it can escape from dead wood in just a few years, according to Heiken's presentation. Environmentalists disagree with industry — heard this one before? James covers energy, natural resources, manufacturing and sustainable business.
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