The USA Could Lower Its Dependency On Imported Steel With Mass Timber CLT

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The USA Could Lower Its Dependency On Imported Steel With Mass Timber CLT

September 13 2018 by Steve Conboy

The primary goal of fire protection in buildings is to preserve life safety. A secondary goal is to protect property and safeguard the environment. These goals are achieved by:

  • Providing safe means of escape, or safe refuge, for the occupants in the event of a fire.
  • Designing the building to limit the progress and spread of fire and smoke, and to minimize structural damage.

  • Smoke is by far the greatest direct cause of casualties and injuries during fires—approximately 75 percent of fire vic- tims die from smoke inhalation (Gann, et al, 1994). These deaths can occur in areas remote from the fire itself due to smoke propagation throughout the building, which thereby contaminates other floors and rooms, as well as potential escape routes, such as stairwells and hallways. Could High Insurance Risk Premiums caused by Fire and Collapse at Oregon State University project trouble for the CLT industry and slow its ability to take market share as a renewable sustainable solution to meet the demands for affordable housing?

    On March 14, after the failure, general contractor Andersen Construction Co., Portland, Ore., shut down construction. Work resumed on July 21 at the site of the George W. Peavy Forest Science Center at OSU's Corvallis campus. But the mishap caused a four-month delay and the opening of the approximately 80,000-sq-ft building, already delayed from this fall due to a switch in general contractors, is now anticipated in January 2020.

    "Despite the setback related to the single CLT panel delamination earlier in the year, the Peavy Hall project is progressing in full swing," says Travis Baker, an Andersen regional vice president. "All parties involved continue to work together to ensure the completed building is 100% safe."

    The March 14 failure, which caused no injuries and no structural damage, threw a big wrench in the works, triggering several investigations. And the project, intended as a showcase for mass timber products in Oregon and the U.S. Pacific Northwest, has turned into a complicated cautionary tale.

    "This is clearly a very unfortunate situation that everyone takes seriously," says Michael Green, president and CEO of the project's architect, wood-building specialist Michael Green Architecture. MGA, headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, also has an office in Portland, Ore.

    "The situation runs the risk of impacting how people feel about CLT," says Green, who informed all of his clients about the Peavy Hall problem. The situation is not having any impact on the "large number of MGA clients interested in CLT," he says. Green says MGA currently has 14 active wood projects around the globe.

    OSU, the state's research land grant university, has been promoting CLT for more than three years, to revitalize the economy for timber farming and forest products in Oregon and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. "We remain confident in CLT and are working through the issues," says Steve Clark, OSU's vice president of university relations.

    Engineered Wood CLT is a prefabricated, engineered wood product made of at least three orthogonal layers of graded sawn lumber or structural composite lumber that are laminated by gluing with structural adhesives. The product has been in use in Europe for about 25 years. CLT has been used in the U.S. for about eight years.

    Valerie Johnson, president of D.R. Johnson and one of 18 industry members on the College of Forestry's advisory "board of visitors," declined to be interviewed but provided the following, in a statement: “We are working closely with all of our Peavy Hall partners to address the remaining issues and are confident they will be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved."

    Other News:

    Based on recent fire test results, mass timber groups have adjusted product certification standards to require the use of cross-laminated timber with structural adhesives tested to demonstrate better fire performance.

    Consider why we spray pyro-create fire protect on steel structures when steel would pass an E119 test and you may begin to understand why we should more fire protection to all mass timber CLT building that only have E119 Class B raw lumber unless they plan on drywalling over all the wood.

    M-Fire is defending 100 % of the interior lumber on high density wood framed building all around the USA and is hoping to finally convince the CLT industry that it needs more than just E119 fire engineering to help lower insurance premiums to help get this movement moving faster to help lower the need to use steel for affordable housing. M-Fire is also hoping to amend the 45Q Carbon Tax Credit to be able to add fire protected high density stick built and mass timber buildings based on all the defended carbon storage in these buildings. If we are successful this would really add value to this mass timber movement. If we can defend all high density wood framed buildings from fire because the only thing that would release the carbon stored in the lumber would be a fire or rot we would have a major impact on this building industry. As our great national builders are trying to keep up and meet the demands for affordable housing we need to consider what is best for future generations when it comes to using more renewable sustainable product that do not create carbon but collect carbon. By add lumber built to wood frame the building industry could lower its need or imported steel as we create giant carbon storage banks with lumber coming out of our very successful reforestation programs say, Conboy

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