Mass timber is a new and transformative category of advanced wood products.
Done right, mass timber can help address climate change impacts, provide affordable housing options, and create living wage jobs throughout the region. The Coalition’s aim is to optimize mass timber made from low-value logs for modular residential housing, demonstrating that it can perform as well as traditional housing construction.
And mass timber houses look great too!
The Pacific Northwest has a long history in the wood products industry. It’s a part of who we are. Wood products sustained rural and urban economies for many years, providing jobs with good wages and supporting local communities. However, since the late 1970s, economic, technology, and policy shifts resulted in the loss of 50,000 Oregon jobs in the industry.
Even with these challenges, wood products remain a significant part of Oregon’s economy. Growing demand for mass timber offers new opportunities. Oregon is an internationally recognized leader in wood product manufacturing and mass timber research. The state has 30 million acres of rich forestland, a large percentage of which is designated as working forest that could meet demand for mass timber products.
In the last few years, mass timber has emerged as one of the hottest construction trends in the U.S. In 2014, there were only 20 mass timber projects in the country. By March 2021, the U.S. had 541 projects in construction and another 600 in design, with projects in all 50 states. By 2025, mass timber is expected to account for $1.4 billion of the $14 trillion global construction industry.3 With concerted investment in global manufacturing capacity and building projects for mass timber, its share of the construction market could rise exponentially by 2050, capturing trillions in value.4
Mass timber has also been tapped as the building material of choice for some of the globe’s leading companies including Microsoft, Adidas, Google, and Walmart. It has been used in signature Oregon projects at the Portland International Airport, The Nature Conservancy and Meyer Memorial Trust.
3. Source: IMARC Group, “Cross-Laminated Timber Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2019-2024,” Research and Markets, April 2019
4. Source: Churkina et al., Buildings as a Global Carbon Sink, 2020
Tyler Freres, Vice President of Freres Lumber, traces the origins of mass plywood and advocates for elevating the dialogue around the future of rural communities.
Developed by the University of Oregon and the Institute for Health in the Built Environment (IHBE), this video examines how an improved acoustic testing facility would advance affordable mass timber housing.
Mass timber differs from traditional lumber in ways that can support improved forestry practices by sourcing from lands that are being managed for conservation goals, supporting forest restoration and wildfire management.
Currently, mass timber products are manufactured from restoration materials such as small-diameter Douglas fir and other commercial species. Researchers at OSU College of Forestry are actively exploring mass timber solutions that use low-value ponderosa pine from dry forests. In addition, the Coalition is developing a robust track-and-trace program to bring transparency and accountability to the wood supply chain. By working to source products from lands that are managed for conservation goals, we connect market growth with sustainable forest management efforts.
Paul Vanderford, Director of Green Markets at Sustainable Northwest, connects the dots between forest health, active forest management, climate change and mass timber.
Researchers at Oregon State University explain how modular mass timber buildings could hold the key to scaling up forest restoration and providing much needed emergency housing.
In Oregon, people are feeling the pinch. The rising cost of housing is making it harder to get by. The challenges are disproportionately felt by people of color and historically marginalized communities. By growing our mass timber industry, we can help create good jobs and increase housing options.
As the market for mass timber scales up, high-quality, energy-efficient homes can become more affordable by using high-volume automated manufacturing processes and low-value wood as input materials for mass timber products. Expanding mass timber’s application can provide permanent affordable housing to low income and wildfire-impacted populations, and has further application as multi-story affordable housing in high-density urban neighborhoods.