Department of Natural Resources
Dec. 15, 2020
|A new technology of building large structures with engineered wood – known as mass timber – is moving ahead in Michigan with support from the Department of Natural Resources.
“What we learned from the summit is that there is a lot of interest in the possibilities of mass timber construction,” said Shannon Lott, DNR deputy director. “We will continue to provide information and encouragement going forward.”
Mass timber presents opportunities for aesthetics and cost savings as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and storing carbon. But adopting a new building method also presents challenges, from meeting local codes to familiarizing builders who are used to concrete and steel in the technique.
The majority of those attending the Michigan Mass Timber Summit live in Michigan, although 12 states were represented among the 207 registrants. Moving online did increase the summit’s attendance capacity, which originally was capped at 100 people. The virtual format also enabled recording of presentations. The event included a video tour of Michigan State University’s $100 million, 117,000-square-foot STEM Teaching and Learning Facility, as well as sessions on design opportunities, cost-benefit analysis, building codes, design, construction, logistics and more. A summary report of the Michigan Mass Timber Summit was prepared to document opportunities for the future.
A post-summit survey shows that 60 percent of attendees wanted to learn more about mass timber in general, 28 percent wanted to learn more about mass timber in Michigan, and 9 percent chose business development as their reason for attending.
The survey also showed that 71 percent of survey respondents would consider building with mass timber in the future.
Michigan’s growing forest products sector generates $20 billion annually and includes lumber, wood products such as plywood and particle board, pulp and paper products. The DNR is certified by two independent organizations regarding sustainable forestry practices in nearly 4 million acres of state forest. It also encourages sustainable forestry among other owners. Michigan has 20 million acres of forested land.
Watch this MSU video to learn more about how mass timber works.