CLT at UBC Brock commons
Photo by: Leda Chahim

Cross Laminated Timber Bill Passes Legislature

Washington State is poised to become a national leader in mass timber construction.

One of the most exciting achievements of this year’s legislative session was the passage of SB 5450, which will support the expanded use of Cross Laminated Timber and other innovative mass timber products here in Washington State. If we get it right, it will mean great news for people, jobs, the health of our forests, and the beauty of our built environment.The legislation, which was sponsored by Senator Marko Liias and supported by Forterra and coalition partners, requires the State Building Code Council to adopt rules for the use of mass timber products for residential and commercial building construction. SB 5450 passed overwhelmingly out of both the Senate (91-6) and the House (45-2), and has been signed by Governor Inslee.

“By embracing the use of Cross Laminated Timber, Washington is poised to become a national leader in the construction of safer, more ecologically sound buildings,” said Senator Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo). “In joining the community of nations around the globe who are already utilizing mass timber products, we are tapping into one of our state’s greatest natural resources and sustaining the living wage timber jobs that have long supported working families in Washington. This legislation puts the people of Washington first by building a greener, more inclusive economy for all.”

When responsibly sourced, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a promising building material that offers a variety of possible benefits, including: reducing hazardous fuels and supporting restoration in our public forests, aiding rural economic development, lowering construction costs in our cities, and potentially reducing carbon emissions associated with climate change.

Over recent years, a broad cross-sector coalition from across Washington State and led by Forterra has worked to accelerate a market for the sustainable production and use of cross laminated timber and other mass timber products. The coalition has worked to identify and remove the barriers so that such a market can thrive, and one of the key areas the coalition identified was building codes.  To date, building codes have hindered the market for tall wood buildings by limiting the type and height of construction allowed to use CLT and mass timber.

For more information about building codes and testing showing the efficacy and safety of CLT and mass timber, visit our primer on building codes in Washington State.

While CLT is seeing increased use in construction, including $5.5 million in capital funding from the State for the Department of Enterprise Services to construct five CLT modular classroom demonstration projects and allotted funds in the 2017 biennial budget for affordable housing, a library and a community center, its use has been largely limited to low-rise construction. By requiring the State Building Code Council to adopt rules for CLT and mass timber products, this legislation takes an important step in addressing this barrier and to potentially allow for new types of construction that will help Washington State become a leader in mass timber.

Watch a KING 5 story about beautiful CLT schoolhouses across Washington that are being built as demonstration projects.

Learn how Forterra plans to reconstruct the Space Needle out of CLT. 😉