Cross-Laminated Timber Advances the Construction Industry

The construction industry is evolving at a fast pace. From new technology that brings designs to life before they are built and software that simplifies project management processes, to the introduction of mass timber to create a better building at a better price.

Already accepted and used in Europe, Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) is a wood paneling building system that is gaining popularity in the United States as a cost competitive, wood-based solution that complements the existing light frame and heavy timber options. Cross-Laminated Timber is made up of three, five, or seven layers of lumber that are aligned at right angles and then glued together to form strong structural panels that can be factory-manufactured.

CLT and Building Codes

In 2015, the International Building Code (IBC) began recognizing CLT products manufactured to ANSI/APA PRG-320, the US standard for Performance Rated Cross Laminated Timber. In 2021, we will see historic changes to the IBC and International Fire Code® (IFC) pertaining to mass timber construction. This change will include three new types of construction – Types IV-A, IV-B, and IV-C – to the code book, which will include provisions to use mass timbers for building up to 18 stories of Type IV-A construction for business and residential occupancies.

Using CLT in Green Construction

Because CLT is suitable for multi-story buildings that substantially exceed current height limitations on conventional wood-frame construction, the building system is an ideal material for non-residential green building construction. Naturally renewable, engineered wood products (EWP), such as Cross-Laminated Timber, can be produced using smaller, fast-growing trees that are replenished by new tree farms. In addition to sustainability, building with wood reduces carbon impacts and carbon sequestration. As the trend toward CLT continues, the wood-based material has the potential to go head-to-head or even replace traditional concrete, masonry, and steel applications.

Key Benefits of CLT

  • Reduces the cost of labor & reliance on skilled labor
  • More consistent material costs
  • Faster assembly
  • Decreased overall construction time
  • Sustainability

It’s important to note that CLT is more expensive upfront. The savings are realized through a combination of reduced labor costs, an accelerated construction schedule due to the need for fewer interior finishes, and the benefit of needing a smaller foundation, which reduces the overall cost and seismic lead. As a point of comparison, CLT is 30% lighter than steel and 60% lighter than post-tensioned concrete.

Read more on how mass timber is impacting commercial construction 

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