Washington state Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz was in Spokane Friday for the opening of a plant she says is pushing the cutting edge of wood manufacturing.
The use of cross laminated timber is a new trend where wood panels are made from gluing layers of solid sawn lumber together.
A company called Katerra is opening a 250,000-square foot facility in Spokane Valley that will employ 125 people to make panels for use in various building projects.
Franz says the cross laminates have been used for some time in Europe, but are poised to take off in North America, in part because of a forest health crisis that has prompted her agency to implement a 20-year plan to thin the forest of smaller trees that can be used commercially.
“It has us treating 1.25 million acres over the next 20 years in central and eastern Washington. That’s about 70,000 acres per year," she said. "That has sent a signal to the marketplace that says if you want to invest in cross laminated timber manufacturing and mill infrastructure, to take those smaller diameter and diseased trees and come to Washington State, because we’re guaranteeing you product."
Franz says even diseased trees can be used in the cross laminated product, which is as strong as concrete, but more sustainable and more affordable.