23:00 is the current hour in Salzberg, Austria, where SRG's traveling Research Fellows are relaxing after a long day, perhaps enjoying a local pint of Stiegl-the region's oldest brewery. It's hard to mention Salzberg without thinking of the von Trapps, but something else is alive with the sound of music besides the hills surrounding Salzberg. The building industry there is alive too. Cross-laminated timber has had a resounding effect on how Austrians are thinking about multi-story wood structures.
Production of cross laminated timber, or CLT, has taken off in Europe in the recent years. In November of 2012, the LCT ONE building, built by Cree GmbH, was opened to the public in Dornbirn, Austria. It was the world's first eight-story timber-hybrid building and paved the way for other tall wood structures around the world.
CLT panels are made by bonding together perpendicular layers of dimensional lumber, such as 2-by-4s, 2-by-6s, or other dimensions, to create massive panels that can be erected and used for walls, floor structures and roofs. In taller buildings, CLT becomes a cost-effective replacement for steel or concrete. It also allows for the use of shorter pieces of wood that can't be used in traditional glulam beams, as well as lumber from smaller diameter forest resources. In addition to using fewer resources and requiring about half the construction time as a traditional structure, buildings constructed with CLT account for significantly lower CO2 emissions because carbon is sequestered in the timber product.
Given this, it's no wonder that SRG's research group-given our commitment to sustainability and investment in the timber-rich Pacific Northwest-chose to study CLT when applying for the firm's Research Fellowship.
Emily Dawson, Scott Mooney, Tim Richey, and Yang Liu arrived in Vienna early Sunday morning. This trip will provide a rich source of information for the Fellows, allowing them to get down in the trenches with the designers, engineers, manufacturers, contractors, timber managers, clients, and end users who all have a personal understanding of CLT's challenges and solutions. So far they have meet with experts at the Graz University of Technology and Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, as well as manufacturers Stora Enso and KLH. They will make several more stops on their way to Zurich, where they will fly to London on Sunday evening. Once in London, they will circle up to the Midlands to visit the Woodland Trust headquarters just outside of Grantham, after which they will head south again, stopping in Worcester and Gloucester-where they will visit St Peters Primary School and Chapel, two gorgeous CLT structures before returning to London to fly back to the States.
We couldn't be happier to support these fellows and eagerly await their return and the opportunity to learn from their experience and apply those lessons learned to future projects in the Pacific Northwest. You can follow our fellows on SRG's Facebook and Twitter.