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With New Spokane Factory, New Green Building Material Takes Important Step Forward



An Amtrak station in Tacoma, a fitness gym in Spokane, and brand new school classrooms in several cities, including Mount Vernon, Seattle, Sequim, Wapato and Toppenish: Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is making significant inroads in Washington State. And there is talk of more projects in the pipeline, including a 14-story high-rise in Tacoma that will incorporate CLT in its construction.

Katerra, a Seattle technology and development company, is announcing it will build a plant in Spokane Valley to mass produce CLT products. (See release below.)

CLT is an engineered wood product comprised of three to nine layers of dimensional lumber, with each layer perpendicular to the other. Seattle Business magazine wrote extensively about the magical material in 2015, in a piece titled “Cross-laminated Timber: the Future of Building?”

CLT rivals steel and concrete in strength. It also has the benefit of being a green building material because it sequesters carbon and is made from a renewable material. It’s also a building product that makes use of scrap timber that is currently not harvested and contributes to forest fires. Clearing those trees and using them in CLT lumber, proponents believe, could reduce forest fires while creating rural jobs. The CLT lumber, because of its structural strength, can be used to design unusual and beautiful structures.

A recent study -- CLT Demand Study for the Pacific Northwest – re-identified the low- to mid-rise multifamily/office building market (four to seven stories) where CLT has the greatest potential for penetration. Another encouraging takeaway for timber-dependent communities—four small- to mid-sized CLT plants could be supported by this building market. And with Washington State Department of Natural Resources signing the Good Neighbor Authority agreement in March with the U.S. Forest Service, restoration work is anticipated to provide the smaller dimensional wood needed for CLT production in Washington State.


Spokane Valley, Wash. To Be Home To New Factory For Emerging Building Technology

Menlo Park, CA -- September 26, 2017 – Katerra, a technology company redefining the construction industry, today announced its plans to open a new factory in Spokane Valley, Washington, where it will produce mass timber products including cross-laminated timber (CLT) and Glulam. Mass timber represents the future of high performance building technology as a new market for building materials that are safe, efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly.

With its new 250K square foot mass timber manufacturing facility, Katerra is helping to scale the production of CLT in the U.S. so that the material can be more broadly adopted across the construction industry. Katerra’s manufacturing presence in the region will provide hundreds of jobs, while also stimulating the growth of thousands of additional jobs through the larger supply chain and associated industries, including design, engineering, and construction.

CLT represents the future of sustainable construction. Due to its low carbon footprint and strength, CLT reduces environmental impact without sacrificing design or structural integrity. By manufacturing its own CLT, Katerra is embracing this natural resource, and helping the U.S. construction industry realize the promise of an advancement that is already widely used in Europe.                   

“CLT is perfect for Katerra in that it’s a material that creates beautiful spaces, is designed for manufacturing, and is sustainable all at the same time.” said Michael Marks, chairman and co-founder of Katerra. “This material represents a great opportunity to create new value within the construction industry and will be central to many of the projects we’ll be designing and building. We feel very comfortable and excited, particularly with the knowledgeable team we have, to make the jump into manufacturing mass timber. We are ready to help bring mass timber to the mainstream of U.S. construction.”

Through this investment in the Spokane area, Katerra is helping to make economic and community progress that is truly sustainable. This type of sustainable ecosystem is a model the company is planning to replicate in partnerships that will help boost other local economies through growth of this new market sector within North America.

Through its end-to-end construction services model, Katerra will supply much of the CLT to projects where it will also serve as architect and contractor. One of Katerra’s first local Spokane-area CLT projects will be the construction of the new Hospitality Center in association with the Community Cancer Fund, Ronald McDonald House and Kootenai Health (Walden House). The facility will house both Ronald McDonald House families while their children are hospitalized in a home-away-from-home environment, as well as provide lodging for the Walden House adult outpatients and their families while receiving treatment at the Kootenai Health facility. The Hospitality Center project is projected to be completed by 2019.

Additional facts and figures about Katerra’s CLT factory include:

The facility will occupy 29 acres of a prime 52-acre site in Spokane Valley, with easy access to rail lines and interstate highways

More than 150 construction-specific jobs will be created to build the CLT factory

Construction of the factory will break ground later this fall, with production slated to begin by Q1 of 2018