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Getting to Net-Zero: Six Competition Winners to Showcase Low Carbon Mass Timber Design

How can advanced engineered wood products help get us to net-zero carbon? What role can replicable and scalable mass timber construction play in a climate-smart future? And are there building types that could benefit from wider use of these eco-friendly products and systems?

Those are the questions nearly sixty design teams across the country set out to answer, with six of these teams selected to receive funding as part of the Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) and USDA Forest Service’s 2022 Mass Timber Competition: Building to Net-Zero Carbon.

 

 

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Nearly 60 Submissions and Six Winning Projects

As the second competition hosted and funded by the USDA Forest Service and SLB, it will expand the use of mass timber in the United States by demonstrating its versatility across building types and its ability to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment. Through the initiative, teams will share case studies, research, lessons learned, and practical tools with the broader industry, helping to accelerate progress to net-zero carbon with mass timber.

“The SLB is gratified to see the breadth of concepts and building typologies entered in the competition, and through this competition we saw excellent examples of the innovative designs mass timber makes possible,” said SLB Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Flom. “These six winning designs will serve to advance not just our body of knowledge for mass timber construction, they will also inform the growing shift towards building for occupancy well-being, resilience, and a minimal carbon footprint.”

And, the Winners are…


From healthcare and affordable multifamily housing to tall wood and commercial industrial buildings, the six winning submissions are showcasing how mass timber is changing how America builds.

Vancouver Ambulatory Care Center

A 176,000 four-story Vancouver Ambulatory Care Center in Vancouver, WA will break new ground in the healthcare sector with its use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels and glued-laminated timber (glulam) throughout, materials less common for this building type. The innovative, biophilic-inspired health facility will be designed and constructed by ZGF, Timberlab, Swinerton, and PCS Structural Solutions. A key deliverable of the project will be a typology-specific barrier-breaking resource guide that will be developed by the design team and shared with the broader design community to advance the use of sustainable wood solutions in medical buildings across the country.

Vancouver Ambulatory Care Center

“We feel the Center should have a strong connection to nature and represent the environmental and social stewardship so important to the communities in the Pacific Northwest Region. To accomplish this, we feel the design must create a strong connection to the nearby mountains and forests, with the interior providing abundant access to natural light.”

Vancouver Ambulatory Care Center Project Design Team 

Vancouver Ambulatory Care Center
Project Design Team

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In Denver, CO, Katz Development, Timberlab, KL&A Engineers and Builders, and Tres Birds will design and construct a high-rise mass timber multifamily project located in the heart of the city’s River North Art District (RiNo). The 12-story building, dubbed Return to Form, will house 84 high-end apartment units, a planted rooftop, and ground-floor retail, with affordable housing units also included in the design. The project will be one of the first mass timber multifamily buildings in the state of Colorado. The mass timber structure will be composed of glulam columns and beams with CLT decks. The project will help demonstrate the value and success of proactive local adoption of the most current building codes.

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Project Design Team

Evergreen Charter School

To the east, in Hempstead, NY, Martin Hopp Architect, Consigli, and Odeh Engineers will expand the possibilities of mass timber in education with their unique 5-story hybrid CLT building, with accessible multi-purpose and green rooftop space. The project, Evergreen Charter School, will show how mass timber can provide a warm, inspiring, and biophilic environment for students without breaking the bank—remaining cost-competitive when compared to more conventional vanilla-box designs. As a school focused on social uplift and providing key community infrastructure in a marginalized neighborhood, the project has an ambitious agenda in both introducing sustainable design goals and implementing far-ranging community facilities within a limited budget.

Evergreen Charter School

“We strongly believe that K-12 School Buildings are the ideal model for the wider adoption of Mass Timber as a sustainable design solution focused on creating healthy buildings that promote wellness and reinforce lasting experiences and tangible metrics for improved learning, and better communities.”

Evergreen Charter School Project Design Team

Evergreen Charter School

Alaskan Copper & Brass Company (ACB)

A 40,000+ square-foot mass timber commercial warehouse for the Alaskan Copper & Brass Company (ACB) will be a model for new cost-effective, low-carbon industrial infrastructure— one that others can replicate. The design team for the mass timber alternative to an energy-intensive traditional tilt-up concrete building includes atelierjones, Foushée, Timberlab, and DCI Engineers

Because of the continued e-commerce boom, up to an additional 1 billion square feet of warehouse space may be needed by 2025, according to a report from JLL commercial real estate advisors. Finding a low carbon alternative for warehouses will be critical to achieving a net zero carbon built environment. An initial comparative carbon impact analysis of this CLT-built project forecasts a 33% cut in emissions when compared to an equivalent warehouse concrete tilt-up baseline.

INTRO Cleveland Phase 2

The second phase of the largest mass timber project in the country, INTRO Cleveland Phase 2, is a 16+-story multifamily mass timber building to feature glulam columns and girders with CLT floor slabs. Upon completion of the project, the team—which includes Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors, Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, and Forefront Structural Engineers—will share their findings and best practices with the broader AEC sector including how to realize design benefits, construction efficiencies, and cost competitiveness of mass timber in tall wood applications.

With carbon stored in the timber and avoided carbon emissions, the carbon benefit is 6,483 metric tons of carbon dioxide in Phase 2 of INTRO, according to the WoodWorks Carbon Calculator. A comparative carbon impact analysis of this project demonstrates a 39% to 56% reduction in embodied carbon.

“The INTRO development is located at the center of an urban context and yet seeks to embody nature within the development by creating a building structure that is sustainably harvested from trees. While the majority of urban developments emit more carbon with concrete and steel, we are intentionally seeking to revitalize these locations by creating carbon sinks through the use of renewable mass timber.”

INTRO Cleveland Phase 2 Design Team

Killingsworth

Eco-friendly meets socially equitable design in the creative office space Killingsworth to be designed by Adre, LEVER Architecture, and Holmes US and located in northeast Portland, Oregon’s King neighborhood. The King neighborhood sits within the historic greater Albina neighborhood of Portland, the home of a thriving African American community. The three-story 18,000+ square-foot mass timber building will provide an inclusive work environment to businesses that value diversity, equity, and community wellness.

Structurally, the mass timber project sets out to prove the seismic benefits of a cost-effective rocking shear wall system that can meet and exceed code requirements for buildings between 3 and 12 stories, and in a region prone to earthquakes. 

Killingsworth

“More architects, engineers, and contractors are discovering the benefits of using wood sourced from responsibly managed forests, such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, and watershed protection. And mass timber has powerful aesthetic qualities, providing biophilic benefits to the people who live and work in such buildings.

Design Team, The Killingsworth Project

The Killingsworth Project
Design Team

Mass Timber: A Climate-Smart Solution That Promotes Healthy and Resilient Forests

Along with advancing mass timber as a low carbon building material, the initiative highlights the benefits of regionally-sourced wood products, keeping working forests healthy through sustainable harvesting.    

“One aspect of managing healthy, resilient forests is sustainable harvesting. Our overstocked forests are vulnerable to a number of issues, namely wildfires. As wildfires become more prevalent across the United States, mass timber supports not just forest health but low carbon buildings—both vital tools in mitigating the impacts of climate change,” said John Crockett, USDA Forest Service Associate Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry.

Each project will source timber from sustainably managed forests that contribute to forest and watershed health. Preference was provided for projects that committed to using domestically harvested and manufactured mass timber. 

Stay tuned as the SLB and USDA plan to execute a similar competition in 2023.

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