RIDDLE, Ore. – D.R. Johnson has received the first U.S. certification to manufacture cross-laminated timbers (CLT) under a new standard approved last year by the American National Standards Institute. The CLT panels were tested and certified by The Engineered Wood Association. The certification clears the way for the company to market its 3-lam, 5-lam, and 7-lam CLT panels to an emerging U.S. wood building market.
“Our company has historically embraced opportunities presented by new technology and markets,” said Valerie Johnson, President of D.R. Johnson. “We’re proud that, working in collaboration with key partners, we have achieved this milestone. We are now ready to manufacture high quality mass timber components—both CLT panels and glu-lam beams—to advance the revival of building with the world’s most environmentally sound product: wood.”
CLTs are engineered wood panels typically consisting of three, five or seven layers of dimension lumber oriented at right angles to one another and then glued to form structural panels with exceptional strength, dimensional stability and rigidity. These panels are components of a construction system commonly referred to as “mass timber construction,” a revival of building taller buildings with wood, greatly reducing the carbon footprint of the project. These buildings have high seismic resilience and better fire resistance than concrete and steel. Using both building materials in a hybrid system is also possible.
Many industry leaders and Oregon policymakers view the development of CLT as serving two important objectives: advancing sustainable building design and promoting rural economic development. The product creates a new market for struggling Oregon sawmills and a new technology for developers who are eager to further reduce carbon emissions tied to buildings. Until now, however, the U.S. market has been slow to materialize.
“The market for CLT is growing,” said Johnson. “We are either under contract or in design conversations with over a dozen projects along the West Coast. Demand is there, and we expect other manufacturers may enter the market soon.”
D.R. Johnson is currently manufacturing CLT panels for the Richard Woodcock Education Center at Western Oregon University. Western Oregon University was the first project to contract with D.R. Johnson and provided the momentum to build the CLT plant and press. D.R. Johnson is also manufacturing CLT for a mixed-use building in North Portland being developed by the Albina Yard Project. In addition to those projects, the company is in design consultations with numerous other West Coast developers. Combined, the contracted work and project pipeline represents nearly a half-million square feet of CLT panels that may require adding an additional shift for workers in Riddle, Oregon.
The company is also installing a Hundegger 5-axis CNC computer-aided panel fabricator, which will be installed and operational in the first quarter of 2016. The Hundegger will provide the ability to customize each CLT panel with precision based on the project’s Computer-Aided Design (CAD) files. The customization of panels to such precise specifications dramatically reduces construction timelines and costs.