Research Portal

October 12, 2020

Mass Timber Optimization and LCA

This study explored how mass timber buildings can be optimized for material efficiency, and supported a regionally-specific LCA case study of a mass timber office building in the Pacific Northwest.

Transitioning construction of low to mid-rise commercial and non-residential structures to cross-laminated timber (CLT)/heavy timber construction could have a positive impact on the environment. It could also develop a new market for the smaller diameter and lower quality logs derived from forest thinning and forest health operations, thereby providing an incentive to undertake forest management activities designed to improve forest health and resiliency. Finally, the development of a cross-laminated timber industry would provide substantial economic benefits and employment opportunities for rural timber-dependent communities.

The UW Architecture team defined a reference commercial office building using heavy timber/CLT to substitute for conventional construction. The School of Forest Resources Team developed a regionally-specific life cycle assessment models to evaluate the environmental impact of potential CLT production in the Olympic Peninsula.