An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cross-laminated timber could reduce forest waste, DNR chief says

A man gestures at a structure made from cross-laminated timber.
Steve Jackson, SPR News

Manufacturing timber products from smaller trees could be a sustainable way to address the state’s housing crisis.

Mercer Mass Timber in Spokane Valley produces cross-laminated timber (CLT) products, where layers of wood are stacked in alternate directions, and bonded with adhesives. The result is a building material that is strong and lightweight. It’s also made from smaller trees than normally used in lumber manufacturing.

Department of Natural Resources chief Hilary Franz said that aspect could reduce forest waste. She toured Mercer on Wednesday.

“We never had someone who could buy that small diameter before, and we couldn't sell it, and when you can't sell it, it either rots on the forest floor, or gets burned and creates an environmental challenge for us," Franz said."

Mercer has also teamed up with design partner Green Canopy Node to construct a 3-story prototype townhouse on the industrial site.

Darren Griechen of Green Canopy says they are developing a mass timber residential building system. He says there are advantages to using the CLT product in this type of pre-fabricated home.

“What we're trying to do is eek out efficiencies in every element of the process form the factory to the filed, so we can build more efficiently and significantly faster”

Franz said the technique could be an affordable answer to the state’s housing crisis. The townhouse was designed with a narrow profile to be used for building in urban areas around the state.