Narrative Box 1

Ten years ago, there were no Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) factories in the United States. Today, there are more than a dozen. In 2015 CLT was recognized as a structural product in the International Building Code (IBC) for buildings up to six stories. As of this year, the IBC allows the use of mass timber structural products (which include CLT panels and glulam columns and beams among others) in buildings up to 25 stories tall (Milwaukee multifamily tower).

While the benefits of mass timber use may not live up to its proponents’ inspiring predictions, the speed with which this renewable material has been taken up in an industry that is notoriously slow to change speaks to its promise: it is a strong, safe, beautiful, and low-carbon alternative (or complement) to concrete and steel —and its use also speeds construction.