Cross-laminated timber construction in Seattle stirs concrete mixer concerns
July 19, 2016 | 9:54 pm CDT
Seattle, WA – Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), today released a new video expressing concern with the use of a wood product known as cross-laminated timber (CLT) in construction. The video joins an ongoing effort to inform the design / build and construction communities about the importance of utilizing strong and resilient building materials in the Seattle, Washington market.  
“Within the United States, cross-laminated timber is really a new material, a new process,” said Jon Narva, Director of External Relations for the National Association of State Fire Marshals. “We still don’t know a lot about it, we’re trying to understand better how to protect the public with those buildings frankly coming into being.  It’s certainly a fair statement to say we understand concrete and what it’s going to do under fire conditions better than we do cross-laminated timber.”
[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"86009","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]According to Build with Strength, the nature of timber alone should give reason for pause; it’s prone to fire, termites, earthquakes, and humidity.  At the moment, sufficient testing has not taken place to verify the durability and strength of CLT. Last year, Washington State experienced the largest wildfire in state history, during which 175 homes were destroyed and more than a million acres burned.  They emphasize that should such an event happen again, the best bet would be to make sure one’s residence is built with the most resilient material available: concrete.
“Before designers and builders, and even legislators, proactively encourage the use of wood products in construction, especially in the low- to mid-rise residential sector, greater testing must take place,” said Kevin Lawlor of Build With Strength. “There’s no substitute for building with strength, and in the case of homes for families, the potential for disaster with CLT is simply too great at this time.”

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