Researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) are testing trusses, which provide structural support for buildings, made from whole trees. One such truss, pictured above, had a clear span of 55 feet and was made from low-value red pine logs. Similar trusses will be installed in a commercial retail building this spring.
This work, which is a cooperative effort between FPL and Whole Trees, LLC, is being conducted to demonstrate the technical feasibility of using tree stems, in their original form, as structural members in commercial structures.
“We’re engineering the tree into structural assemblies which make use of the tree’s superior strength in bending when compared with milled wood. This will lead to stronger buildings while adding value to forests,” said Roald Gundersen, co-founder and project lead at Whole Trees. “We couldn’t achieve these goals without the Small Business Innovation Research Grant Program and the partnership of FPL and lead research engineer Doug Rammer and his team.”