New Study Describes Economic Impacts of CLT

First study of its kind points to job creation and bridging urban-rural divide with acceleration of sustainable construction material

PORTLAND, Ore. – A new, multi-partner study, the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, describes the potential economic impacts – including thousands of new jobs – the emerging cross-laminated timber (CLT) market will have in Oregon and SW Washington.

The 110-page study, led by Oregon BEST in collaboration with eight regional stakeholders and funded by $120,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, addresses questions about resource capacity, market demand and real and perceived barriers to the use of CLT. The findings will help key players in the supply chain make investment and policy decisions to accelerate production of CLT.

CLT panel being lowered into placeCLT is manufactured by gluing dimensional lumber in perpendicular layers under pressure to create large panels that can be lifted into place for use as walls and floors in construction projects that would traditionally use concrete and steel. The use of CLT shrinks the carbon footprint of the built environment by sequestering carbon and reduces the use of other materials that have a significant carbon footprint. This is why Oregon BEST has supported advancement of the technology in Oregon and led the study.

Although structural CLT has been used for years in Europe, it is new to the U.S., and the study is aimed at helping Oregon and SW Washington maintain an early leadership position in the design, manufacture and use of the new mass timber product.

According to the study, "Advanced Wood Product Manufacturing Study for Cross-Laminated Timber Acceleration in Oregon and SW Washington," manufacturing CLT will create jobs throughout the supply chain – good news for the region's struggling timber communities. The use of CLT in urban construction projects, including high-rise buildings, will help bridge the rural-urban divide, and ongoing university research will play a critical role in adoption of CLT.

CLT study report cover"Oregon’s forests are a tried and true resource that may again be key to economic stability for rural Oregon, expanding opportunity for communities hit hard by the decline of the natural resource economy," said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. "By supporting the supply chain to bring CLT to market, Oregon can show that sustainably harvested timber is a catalyst for economic development and good jobs in rural areas."

Economic analysis by Business Oregon included in the study predicts that CLT and related mass timber manufacturing has the potential to create 2,000 to 6,000 direct jobs in Oregon, depending on Oregon’s market share of demand for mass timber in the U.S. When jobs created by indirect and induced impacts are included, the study predicts that approximately 5,800 to 17,300 jobs could be created in Oregon.

"Cross-laminated timber represents a unique opportunity to bring an innovative impact technology to both the construction industry globally and our region's forest products industry sector," says David Kenney, President and Executive Director of Oregon BEST. "We jumped at the opportunity to convene university, business development, city, county, state, and federal partners in Oregon and Washington, and we hope this study serves as a catalyst to bring more partners together to ultimately create new manufacturing jobs in our region."

Oregon BEST and Oregon State University were instrumental in helping DR Johnson Wood Innovations, a rural lumber mill in Riddle, Oregon, become the first structurally certified CLT producer in the U.S.  The study states that two more Oregon CLT manufacturers have expressed interest in entering the local market by 2019, as well as one in Washington.

"Since we began CLT production in the fall of 2015 it has been very encouraging to see the positive response of the construction market," said Valerie Johnson, CEO of DR Johnson Wood Innovations. "We have worked hard in collaboration with others to continue to prove the benefits of building with mass timber. Manufacturing CLT is creating good jobs in our rural timber community, while sequestering carbon in buildings where it is used. It's a real win-win."

Analysis in the study from experts at the Oregon Dept. of Forestry and Clackamas County Forest Management addresses the question about the impact of increased demand for wood on the sustainability of forests. While increased market share for mass timber products, particularly CLT, would increase regional consumption of wood, the study says, evaluation of growth and yield suggests Pacific Northwest forests can support increasing demands while remaining sustainable in terms of production capacity and forest health.

Clackamas County Commissioners Ken Humberston and Martha Schrader said their county is committed to maximizing opportunities across the CLT supply chain and plans to be a regional leader in the development of this new industry.

"Our efforts focus on increasing local access to raw materials, guiding developers through complex building code requirements and creating strategic public/private investment partnerships,: Humberston said.

The study, a highly collaborative project in itself, includes input from a wide range of industry, academic, and government partners that tout the roll of collaboration on the success of new products that lead to new jobs.

"Highly interactive collaborations between our College of Forestry and forest products companies are often key to developing innovative new products, technology and manufacturing processes that allow Oregon's industry to be more competitive in existing markets and to leverage emerging ones, including the use of CLT and other mass timber components in new buildings," said Thomas Maness, Dean of the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. "This provides higher-value products and family-wage jobs that support our rural economies."

With input from regional industry experts, FPInnovations, a forest research group, incrementally estimated the potential market for mass timber in the U.S. (based on 2015 new construction data) to be up to 6.1 billion board feet in new and existing markets.

While the study says that CLT manufacturing is not likely to be the silver bullet for revitalizing the forestry sector to what it once was, it does provide a transformative, value-add product that dramatically reduces the carbon footprint of the built environment while creating what is expected to be a strong, sustainable demand for lumber from regional forests.

Collaborators in the study include: Oregon BEST, Business Oregon, Oregon Dept. of Forestry, City of Eugene, City of Corvallis/Benton County, Clackamas County, Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP), Washington State University (WSU), the colleges of business and forestry at Oregon State University, and WoodWorks.

The study can be downloaded here: http://oregonbest.org/index.php?id=472

Media Contact: Gregg Kleiner, 541.740.9654
Sources: David Kenney, Oregon BEST, 503.780.8736; Thomas Maness, Oregon State University, 541.737.4279; Valerie Johnson, DR Johnson Wood Innovations (via Quinn Thomas PR), 541-913-6420; Ken Humberston, Clackamas County, 503-655-8581

About Oregon BEST http://oregonbest.org
An economic development catalyst, Oregon BEST funds and supports innovative cleantech startups across Oregon, connecting these companies with state and federal resources, while preparing them for follow-on investment through a series of focused programs. Oregon BEST provides leadership and leverages its expertise, resources and relationships to achieve impact beyond its scale. Founded in 2007, Oregon BEST is an independent nonprofit supported by the Oregon Innovation Council and Business Oregon. Learn more at OregonBEST.org