For Sustainable, Renewable Construction Materials: The Future Is CLT

Closing out the second decade of this new millennium, it’s safe to say that sustainable building practices are less of a trend and more of the norm. The challenge for construction firms is meeting client demands for a high-performing building with a small carbon footprint, featuring interior finishes that belie the structure’s lean, green functionality.

For some firms, the challenge has involved using the same tried and true construction materials—typically concrete or steel—and expecting other product specifications to do the heavy lifting when it comes to sustainability and energy performance.

What if the very bones of a building could play a starring role in its measurable sustainability? It’s possible, and it’s happening today with cross laminated timber (CLT).

Used widely across European countries, CLT is an engineered wood building system made from several layers of boards, stacked perpendicular to the other, and hydraulically compressed and bonded together with a special adhesive. This process provide dimensional stability, strength and rigidity, making it a viable alternative to concrete, masonry and steel in many applications. With careful planning and engineering considerations, the service life of a CLT building can last as long as one constructed from more conventional building materials.

Additionally, the manufacturing process for CLT components means each order is created specifically for a project. CLT components are milled to exacting tolerances inside our facility, so weather doesn’t have to be a concern. Materials delivered onsite are ready to be assembled. The size of crew required for assembly, and the minimal impact on a construction schedule, only adds to the time and fees saved.

A versatile building product, CLT can be used throughout a building or as part of a component feature within the building, whether it’s new construction or a retrofit.

Using CLT helps reduce the environmental impact of a structure without compromising the quality clients expect or the building standards enforced to protect occupants. Adding sustainability without sacrificing budgets, schedules or designs is yet another advantage. CLT is gaining recognition, and it won’t be long before this product is accepted as a common building material that delivers great results.


Casey Malmquist is president and general manager of SmartLam. For more information, visit smartlam.com.