Turning Up the Heat: Fires Test Performance of Tall Wood Buildings

Wood buildings provide an array of economic and environmental benefits. Interest in capitalizing on those benefits by constructing mid- to high-rise buildings using cross-laminated timber (CLT) is growing. CLT is made from layers of dried lumber boards stacked in alternating direction at 90-degree angles, glued and pressed to form solid panels. These panels have exceptional strength and stability and can be used as walls, roofs, and floors. Additionally, calculations have shown that a seven-inch floor made of CLT has a fire resistance of two hours.

In order for wood structures to rise above six stories without special building official permission, changes to the International Building Code are needed. It’s a tall order, but researchers from the Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) recently completed a series of fire tests that will address concerns about fire performance of wood buildings and help take them to new heights. Continue reading

Investigating CLT’s Ability to Fight Fungus

The growing reputation of cross-laminated timber (CLT) as a sustainable, cost-effective, and innovative building material has prompted researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) to build upon past research and investigate the material’s ability to fight against fungus.

Intact cross-laminated timber panel section (left); 4-in. cube cut from panel section for scaled-up decay testing.

(A) Intact cross-laminated timber panel section; (B) 4-in. cube cut from panel section for scaled-up decay testing.

Praised for its many benefits, including speed of construction, cost, sustainability, excellent thermal and sound insulation, and fire restriction qualities, the pre-fabricated building material has made a name for itself in the construction and worldwide mass timber market. CLT has already made an appearance in a variety of high-rise apartment buildings in the Pacific Northwest and Southeast United States, urging scientists in the Lab’s Durability and Wood Protection Unit to further examine how the timber fairs against a rainy, humid climate.

The study builds upon past conclusions that untreated CLT is susceptible to mold and a variety of fungi. While decay can be reduced with preservatives such as boron, researchers are using more methods to investigate resistance treatments.

Scientists have implemented soil block assay tests on numerous random samples of CLT, and also plan to conduct mass loss and x-ray density profiling to assess decay in CLT.It is hoped that this exploration will help researchers develop more targeted fungal reduction methods for CLT.

The project will conclude in early 2017.  For more information on CLT and fungal resistance, read the full Research in Progress report.

Blog post by Francesca Yracheta

It’s All About Mass Timber! April FPMU Update is out!

fpmuupdateThe latest Update from the Forest Products Laboratory’s Forest Products Marketing Unit (FPMU) is out!

The April 2016 Update sums up the successful Mass Timber Conference held in Portland, Oregon, last month and offers some highlights from the event. It also includes exciting news about the grand opening of the first all-cross laminated timber hotel in the U.S., as well as a calendar of upcoming classes, events, and workshops.

If you would like to receive the FPMU Update via email, send a message to asarnecki@fs.fed.us to be added to the distribution list.

High-Rise Wood Buildings: Interactive Map Shows Construction Around the World

It’s safe to say we have a thing for tall wood buildings here at the Forest Products Laboratory.

Dalston Lane is a 121-home development set to open in London this summer.

Dalston Lane is a 121-home development set to open in London this summer.

Case in point: We study what happens to their moisture content during construction, look at how they perform in earthquakes, test fire retardant treatments for their components, host workshops about them and post the presentations for all the world to see, and even sponsor large events, like the Mass Timber Conference happening in Portland, Oregon, this week!

With all that in mind, you can imagine our excitement when curbed.com published an interactive map (swoon!) of all the wooden high-rises in the world, some completed, others under construction or in concept. Scroll through the list or click a number on the map to read about the buildings’ features, see photos and drawings, and find out more via website links.

Even if you’re not quite as obsessed with wood as we are, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed with this cyber-trip around the world to see some truly stunning architecture.

Mass Timber Research Workshop Presentations Available Online!

The Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) recently hosted the inaugural Mass Timber Research Workshop in cooperation with Woodworks – Wood Products Council. During the two-day event, more than 120 national and international attendees, including 26 presenters, gathered to learn about cross laminated timber (CLT) and how its design and use can further green building efforts while also aiding in forest restoration activities.

CLT concept and use in a nine-story mid-rise building in London.

CLT concept and use in a nine-story mid-rise building in London.

If you weren’t able to attend the workshop, never fear! The presentations are now available for viewing on FPL’s website. A broad range of topics related to CLT were covered, from fire safe design to seismic performance to timber-concrete composites.

Dig in and learn about this new era of wood construction. If you’re interested in learning even more, sign up to register for the upcoming Mass Timber Conference being held in Portland, Oregon, in March 2016.