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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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Study Analyzes Construction Trends to Determine Wood's Potential

The LeMay - America
The LeMay - America's Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, exemplifies wood use in nonresidential building construction. APA, The Engineered Wood Association
Snapshot: By analyzing construction trends from 2011, Forest Service researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory found that the opportunity exists for a nearly three-fold increase in the use of wood building materials in new low-rise nonresidential buildings constructed in the United States.

The construction of low-rise (six or fewer stories) nonresidential buildings is an important market for lumber, engineered wood, and structural and nonstructural wood panels in the United States. Low-rise nonresidential construction in 2011 was still severely impacted by the recession of the late 2000s. When measured in inflation adjusted dollars, construction value was 35 percent below the 2008 record high. Floor area constructed was also impacted. The 733 million square feet built in 2011 was just under two-thirds of that built in 2008. This level of construction resulted in the consumption of 627 million board feet of lumber, 222 million board feet of engineered wood products, 712 million square feet of structural panels, and 19 million square feet of nonstructural panels. A large unfulfilled potential for wood exists in nonresidential construction. Wall-framing type is a key determinant of wood potential. In 2011, an additional 2,640 million board feet of wood products could have been used in low-rise nonresidential buildings if buildings which passed International Building Code standards for wood construction were built from wood, and if nonwood components of wood-framed buildings were built with wood. This potential consisted of 1,253 million board feet of lumber, 700 million board feet of engineered wood, 1,298 million square feet of structural panels, and 78 million square feet of nonstructural panels.
Princpal Investigator(s):
 McKeever, David B.

Research Location:
  • Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wis.

External Partners:
  • APA The Engineered Wood Association
  • FPInnovations
  • MSC Marketing Solutions Consulting Ltd.

Fiscal Year: 2013
Highlight ID: 432
Related Research Emphasis Areas: