Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Two NE tree species can be used in new sustainable building material


UMass Amherst study tested strength of mass timber panels created from eastern white pine and eastern hemlock

Two tree species native to the Northeast have been found to be structurally sound for use in cross-laminated timber (CLT) - a revolutionary new type of building material with sought-after sustainability characteristics, according to research by a University of Massachusetts Amherst timber engineer.

Panels of CLT were placed into a strength-testing machine at the UMass Wood Mechanics Lab, where a giant steel arm put thousands of pounds of pressure on the engineered wood until it broke.

Credit: Peggi Clouston/UMass Amherst

The findings, published in the Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, suggest that these trees - the eastern hemlock and eastern white pine - could support local markets for CLT.

The manufacturing of CLT, a type of mass timber used for wall, floor and roof construction, could create jobs, improve rural and forestry economies and support better forestry management, which is a strategy to address climate change, the research says.

"This is the future - prefabricated, panelized wood," says lead author Peggi Clouston, professor of wood mechanics and timber engineering in the School of Earth and Sustainability.

"It's far more efficient and there's far less waste than site construction. It's less time- and labor-intensive than building with cast-in-place concrete" and has a much lower carbon footprint.

Clouston's leadership in state-of-the-art wood construction technology was instrumental in the creation of UMass Amherst's John W. Olver Design Building, a showcase for best practices in sustainability.

When the structure opened in 2017 to house academic departments and offices, it was considered the most technologically advanced CLT building in the country.

All the CLT for the Design Building was FSC-certified, ensuring it came from responsibly managed forests that deliver environmental, social and economic benefits.

"We wanted to show the world how to build a contemporary mass timber structure, and we are doing so. Groups have come from as far away as Taiwan to see it," Clouston says.

Clouston and her team of researchers tested the eastern hemlock and eastern white pine in the UMass Wood Mechanics Lab at the Olver Design Building. They made the composite building panels by gluing together wooden boards from hemlock and pine trees that were grown in the region.

"We then broke them in a strength-testing machine to find out if they would be safe to use in a university-size building," Clouston explains.

The researchers analyzed the results, comparing them to engineering requirements, and showed that both tree species met building standards, with eastern hemlock outperforming pine.

Salvaging wood from eastern hemlock is a key forest-management priority, Clouston explains, because the trees are under attack by an insect, the hemlock wooly adelgid. "The insect doesn't harm the wood, but it kills the tree, which in five to 10 years will rot and fall down, becoming hazardous fuel for forest fires," she says.

Eastern hemlock also is considered low-value because it's prone to a wood defect called ring shake and isn't used in structural framing. "Turning this particular species into CLT turns a very low-value material into a very high-value building product," Clouston says.

Identifying low-carbon materials for construction is an emerging buzz among architects, and the timing is right to encourage CLT production in the Northeast, the research concludes.

"The testing we did shows that anyone who would want to invest in a local plant has a reason to do so," says Clouston, whose trailblazing work was recently highlighted in a Washington Post feature story. "The prospect of being able to use local wood in CLT and manufacture it locally makes it all the more sustainable by avoiding the environmental cost of transporting the material long distances."

Media Contact

Patty Shillington


Patty Shillington | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Architecture and Construction:

nachricht ArKol Project: Tapping into the Thermal Potential of Façades
25.03.2020 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht Research made easy: DFKI spin-off “baukobox” helps architects with detailed planning
03.03.2020 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

All articles from Architecture and Construction >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Junior scientists at the University of Rostock invent a funnel for light

Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.

The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.

Im Focus: Stem Cells and Nerves Interact in Tissue Regeneration and Cancer Progression

Researchers at the University of Zurich show that different stem cell populations are innervated in distinct ways. Innervation may therefore be crucial for proper tissue regeneration. They also demonstrate that cancer stem cells likewise establish contacts with nerves. Targeting tumour innervation could thus lead to new cancer therapies.

Stem cells can generate a variety of specific tissues and are increasingly used for clinical applications such as the replacement of bone or cartilage....

Im Focus: Artificial solid fog material creates pleasant laser light

An international research team led by Kiel University develops an extremely porous material made of "white graphene" for new laser light applications

With a porosity of 99.99 %, it consists practically only of air, making it one of the lightest materials in the world: Aerobornitride is the name of the...

Im Focus: Cross-technology communication in the Internet of Things significantly simplified

Researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a framework by which wireless devices with different radio technologies will be able to communicate directly with each other.

Whether networked vehicles that warn of traffic jams in real time, household appliances that can be operated remotely, "wearables" that monitor physical...

Im Focus: Peppered with gold

Research team presents novel transmitter for terahertz waves

Terahertz waves are becoming ever more important in science and technology. They enable us to unravel the properties of future materials, test the quality of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

“4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020” takes place over the internet

26.03.2020 | Event News

Most significant international Learning Analytics conference will take place – fully online

23.03.2020 | Event News

MOC2020: Fraunhofer IOF organises international micro-optics conference in Jena

03.03.2020 | Event News

Latest News

3D printer sensors could make breath tests for diabetes possible

27.03.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

TU Bergakademie Freiberg researches virus inhibitors from the sea

27.03.2020 | Life Sciences

The Venus flytrap effect: new study shows progress in immune proteins research

27.03.2020 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>