Potential benefits of cross-laminated timber revealed in study

A study conducted by Oregon BEST, a non-profit based in Portland, Oregon, United States (U.S.), and released in July 2017, shows that the production of cross-laminated timber (CLT) may be able to create significant job growth in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S.

Made of layers of two-inch-thick dimensional wood glued over each other at a 90 degree angle, the material is a strong panel that can be used for tall buildings.

The study, entitled Advanced Wood Product Manufacturing Study for Cross-Laminated Timber Acceleration in Oregon and SW Washington, was bankrolled by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Business Oregon, Washington State University, and the Oregon Department of Forestry, among others, collaborated on the study as well. The study looked at wood products companies from the region, including the first structurally-certified CLT manufacturer in the U.S., D.R. Johnson in Riddle.

President of D.R. Johnson, Valarie Johnson, has agreed with the study, saying that the production of CLT will increase employment for rural areas in Oregon, such as Douglas County.

“The community is part of the fabric of this community. It’s not only where our employees live, it’s where our families have grown up and continue to live, and making this a successful venture is really important to us,” Johnson said in an interview with The News-Review. “We’re going it all we can because we really want it to be successful.”

In addition, manufacturing CLT needs employees with a diverse range of skill and education levels, including engineers, skilled labourers, and those who work in shipping and more.

According to Business Oregon’s economic analysis as added in the study, CLT as well as related mass timber production have the potential to create between 2,000 and 6,000 direct jobs, and an approximate 5,800 to 17,300 indirect jobs.

For example, CLT needs kiln-dried lumber, so kilns and their drying capacities will be demand, which, in turn, contributes to the indirect jobs that can be found in the kilns.

“There are jobs created for this that are not necessarily going to take a four- or five-year college degree, but they may take a year at the community college or an apprenticeship with us, and that is good for our company and for the community,” Johnson added. “It gives us hope there is a new very resilient market for a new product that is going to help grow employment back, and it’s wonderful to have that employment develop here in rural communities which have been hit so badly from the 2006 and 2007 recession.”

Thus far, D.R. Johnson has hired 12 more employees to work in their CLT facility, and will likely be adding a second shift within the next year, and opening up to ten additional jobs, according to The News-Review.

President and executive of Oregon BEST, David Kenney, noted that while a single CLT facility can only create a handful of jobs, there is the potential to for many facilities to multiply the effect.

However, while some of the data in the study is inaccurate as the study took two years to complete, Johnson believes that the conclusions the study have reached are relevant to the present.

“The details missed the mark in a lot of areas, but it gives a broad brush look at what’s possible,” Johnson stated. “The current market and potential for sale are significantly greater than what the report shows.”

Tricia Clemens, who manages special projects and research in Oregon BEST, stated that the study was supposed to pinpoint and identify where the market was growing as well as the potential economic benefits CLT has, according to The News-Review.

“Another aspect of the study is looking at the supply chain, and that’s a really big interest area for our region, because we do have so many sawmills,” Clemens said, noting that along with the economic benefits, the market for “green” buildings that leave smaller carbon footprints is also steadily growing. “It takes a natural resource that’s growing in our backyard and we’re able to process it and add engineered value to it, that’s job creation and revenue, and we put that out into the market.”

“Building with wood represents a huge opportunity to have that carbon-mitigating impact that is very sought after around the world,” Kenney said, referring to CLT’s role in carbon sequestration.

But he also added that while the market for CLT has the potential to be very large, the real question was not about the size of the market, but how many years it would take to get there.

“One of the challenging things in the economic development profession is finding ways global trends can drive economic growth in rural parts our country,” Kenney said to The News-Review. “We found it will take some time and it will take that growth and demand to generate the jobs ultimately in the supply chain, but it does represent a significant economic opportunity for Oregon, especially in rural Oregon.”


Source: The News-Review