Auburn University hosts the first cross-laminated timber conference in the southern United States


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auburn university College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environmentin partnership with several other university colleges and administrative offices, recently hosted the first conference on cross-laminated timber, or CLT, in the southern United States at the Auburn University Hotel and the Dixon Conference Center .

The three-day event, titled “The sustainable future of CLT in the South: growing. Design. To build.was held April 27-29, with more than 160 attendees from across the country, including Texas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and other southern states. The conference brought together renowned experts in forestry, building science, engineering, architecture and design. who shared the latest CLT research, trends and developments in the South.

CLT is a pre-engineered wood panel consisting of wood stacked and glued crosswise in alternating directions to create pressed layers. This unique engineering gives the panel exceptional strength and strong fire protection while remaining lighter and creating less waste during installation than conventional alternatives, such as concrete and steel.

With an abundance of southern pines in the region, CLT is positioned to be a growing industry in the southern United States, benefiting the logging industry and the region’s economy.

“This was a unique opportunity and a one-of-a-kind event where you had forestry and wood products professionals and manufacturers, landowners, architects, engineers, contractors, insurance professionals, economic development professionals and educators in the same space,” said Adam Maggard, conference coordinator, extension specialist and associate professor of forest systems management. “The value of this type of opportunity to learn, network and work together to advance CLT and solid wood products and their use cannot be overstated.”

Scott Enebak, associate dean and professor at the college, opened the session with a welcome and introduced James W. Rane, Auburn administrator and founder and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving Inc., a leading producer of USA pressure treated wood

With more than 23 million acres of forest land in Alabama, the timber industry is a mainstay of the state.

“We have the land, we have the timber, we have the entire forest industry that brings these together into a strong economic force and a value-added supply chain across the region and the country, and that includes manufacturing which is one of the most important industries for rural communities,” Rane said during his opening remarks. “The logging industry is the largest investor of capital in many counties in our state and the largest employer in much of rural Alabama and our region.”

Following Rane’s remarks, Jeff Peters, Southeast Regional Director of the WoodWorks Wood Products Council, began his keynote address by asking the audience, “What’s your why? As Regional Manager, Peters provides free technical support to developers and design/build teams working on commercial or multi-family wood buildings.

“As far as the advancement of cross-laminated timber here in the South, I really think it’s a huge gap in education,” Peters said in a recent interview. “So one of the things we do at WoodWorks is try to break down those barriers by increasing the knowledge of solid wood design teams, contractors and developers.”

The design and theme of the conference centered around the CLT supply chain. Plenary sessions explored various topics, including current and future implications for forest management, the wood products sector, mass timber markets and economies.

Later in the conference, attendees chose from two concurrent sessions with experts who covered various topics related to CLT manufacturing, supply chain, engineering, design and construction and other factors influencing the use and advancement of CLT in the South.

A roundtable of experts, led by Peters, sought to answer many questions about the CLT.

Peters noted that the question of the cost of CLT comes up frequently and that the conference roundtable provided an opportunity to explore this in more depth.

“It was great to have the diverse industry expertise of Derek Ratchford of Smartlam North America and Jeff Morrow of Timberlab Inc. to weigh in on this topic,” Peters said. “Currently, the cost really depends on the complexity of the structure; it depends on the degree of fire resistance and the type of construction; and it depends on several other factors. We have decades of historical cost data when it comes to pricing a steel or concrete structure, but very little when compared to a mass timber building.

More information about the conference speakers is available on line.

Showcasing current research related to the advancement of mass timber, undergraduate and graduate students presented their research on a variety of topics, from predicting carbon content in wood samples to using fibers from reclaimed loblolly pine wood to the use of renewable polymers for the protection of CLT coatings.

During the final day of the conference, attendees took part in tours that showcased CLT manufacturing and construction in Alabama. A tour visited SmartLam North America CLT’s manufacturing facility in Dothan, Alabama, where attendees learned how CLT is designed and prefabricated to the exact specifications and requirements of a construction project.

Another tour visited Auburn’s recently completed 41,500 square foot Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory to learn more about CLT structural testing research. Partially designed using CLT, this laboratory includes a 4,700 cubic foot geotechnical test chamber and a wind test facility.

After the lab, the local tour continued to the Hey Day Market which is currently under construction at the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center in Auburn. The 9,000 square foot building, which will house a dining hall and business center, is constructed with CLT and glue-laminated lumber, or GLT.

“This conference reflects the importance of CLT and other mass timber products to stakeholders and the growing demand for sustainable building alternatives and the advancement of innovative timber products,” said Janaki Alavalapati, Dean from college. “The economic impact of CLT and other mass timber products across multiple industries in Alabama, the region, the country and beyond is growing exponentially, and the synergy provided by this conference was necessary to make advance the CLT.”

Attendees said the conference exceeded their expectations.

“I really appreciated having several people from different industry backgrounds present. The discussions from procurement to design to construction added to the knowledge and understanding of the segment,” one attendee noted. to an investigation.

The College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment partnered with the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, the Office of Sustainability and the Office of the Academic Architect to host the event.

To view photos and video from the conference, visit and Youtube.

(Written by Gracen Carter)


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