News Brief

Cross-Laminated Timber Could Save 4% on Building Costs

Though cross-laminated timbers are still relatively rare, they are already cost-competitive and likely to get cheaper, an analysis suggests.

November 3, 2014

Using cross-laminated timber (CLT) as an alternative to concrete or steel would likely provide modest savings on construction costs while reducing the environmental impact of new construction, according to a feasibility study issued by Mahlum, Walsh Construction, and Coughlin Porter Lundeen. (For more on the environmental benefits of CLT, see Engineering a Wood Revolution.)

Using a recently completed existing building as a benchmark, the report compares concrete, steel, and CLT structural materials based on life-safety issues as well as cost for a hypothetical ten-story multifamily building in Seattle and concludes that a quicker construction time helps contribute to overall cost savings of approximately 4%.

Other factors contributing to savings included the ability to use a less skilled workforce, while the analysts considered the potential need for temporary protection of the structural materials as a mark against CLT’s affordability. “Because there is little local experience with this construction system,
 CLT construction is estimated at a cost premium until competency and familiarity 
is established,” the authors note, adding that the 4% savings is conservative because of unknowns. They also suggest that costs will come down even more if the materials sees market uptake in the region.

The full report can be downloaded on the Mahlum website.

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