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What's Our Future in Wood Products?

by Brian Dunagan

Last week I attended the Global Buyers Mission organized by BC Wood in Whistler, Canada. BC Wood is a not-for-profit association that supports British Columbia businesses that manufacture wood products. Thanks to Dave Farley from BC Wood and Kurt Westerlund from FraserWood for including us and providing the opportunity for us to attend this event.

The technical information on mass timber construction was extremely helpful. We have several projects with owners and contractors where we are looking at using cross-laminated timbers (CLT) for roofs and floors, and possibly the walls. One thing we learned during our time at BC Wood is that some projects are using conventionally framed walls, whether site-built or pre-manufactured, along with CLT panels. Quite a few projects use CLT panels on timber columns and use other structural systems to provide lateral support. The lateral systems can be concrete shear walls, masonry shear walls, and/or wood shear walls. I am excited to venture into the design of our projects using CLT as a part of the structural system.

One aspect of the conference that I particularly noticed and appreciated was the amount of collaboration evident in the industry and with other groups represented. The Canadian government is a huge supporter of the manufacturers of these products and is working very hard with them to market this technology throughout the world. I think our country needs to provide this support to the construction industry and collaborate with our northern neighbors to create the best design opportunities and construction projects possible. Additionally, most of the people I met on the design side were looking for teams to help them with their projects. The design-assist or design-build concept is alive and well and supported by the designers, manufacturers, and contractors working in our field.

I came away from this experience excited, looking forward to designing and collaborating on projects using mass timber construction.

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