Tree species strength-tested for new sustainable building material

Two tree species native to Northeast America have been found to be structurally sound for use in cross-laminated timber – a new type of building material that is efficient and creates minimal waste.

Two tree species native to Northeast America have been strength tested in mass timber panels. The eastern hemlock and eastern white pine could support local markets for cross-laminated timber (CLT), a type of mass timber used for wall, floor and roof construction that can improve rural economies and support better forestry management.

“This is the future – prefabricated, panelized wood,” commented lead author Peggi Clouston from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in a statement. “It’s far more efficient and there’s far less waste than site construction. It’s less time- and labor-intensive than building with cast-in-place concrete.”

Clouston and her teammade the composite building panels by gluing together wooden boards from hemlock and pine trees that were grown in the region. They then analyzed the results, comparing them to engineering requirements, and showed that both tree species met building standards, with eastern hemlock outperforming pine.

Eastern hemlock is considered low-value because it is prone to a wood defect and it is not used in structural framing. “Turning this particular species into CLT turns a very low-value material into a very high-value building product,” Clouston said. She added that being able to use local wood in CLT and manufacture it locally makes it all the more sustainable.

Image via Flickr creative commons.

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