Wood Construction In North America Scales Up, Gets Gorgeous

What is Cross Laminated Timber?

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credit: Bill Downing, Structurlam Products Limited via Natural Resources Canada

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Wood is not only renewable, absorbing carbon dioxide as it grows, but right now the mountain pine beetle is chewing through the forests, killing trees across North America that should be harvested before they rot, releasing all that CO2 back into the atmosphere. However, most wood construction in North America is framed, like houses; they are flammable and limited in size.

That's why Cross Laminated Timber, or CLT, is such an innovative product. It is built up from small pieces of wood, glued together in giant presses to make strong, solid panels. It is thick enough that in a fire, the exterior chars and actually protects the wood from burning. It has been used in Europe for decades but is now coming to America in a big way.