USDA and SLB announce competition to expand mass timber in the US

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) have announced a competition to expand the use of mass timber construction in the United States. The competition winners will receive grants of up to $500,000 each and multiple winners will be selected.

Projects can be commercial, institutional, industrial, educational, mixed-use, and affordable multifamily housing developments. Evaluation preference will be given to building typologies where mass timber is currently underutilized such as 6-18 story buildings, warehouse distribution facilities, big box retailers, and healthcare.
Submissions are due in early 2022 and winners will be selected by late Spring or early Summer 2022.

How can Banksia help?

Banksia can support competition applicants with code compliance, fire safety consulting and engagement with city agencies during the competition phase and beyond.

Banksia’s President, John Barrot, was part of a winning project team for a similar mass timber competition for a 10-story mass timber building. He has been involved in the code development process for mass timber in New York City for the upcoming 2022 code revision as well as staying across mass timber code changes in other states.

The code requirements for mass timber have changed in recent years and there are significant differences from state to state. For instance, several states now allow mass timber buildings up to 18 stories, whereas New York City will begin to allow cross-laminated timber up to 85 feet in 2022.

Additionally, the design of mass timber for fire safety requires special expertise from sourcing fire rated mass timber floors, walls, and columns, to designing connections, to evaluating the fire contribution of exposed timber ceilings and walls.

City agencies including building and fire departments are critical stakeholders in the design and construction process and must be engaged in a collaborative way to ensure success.

Mass timber can also be part of an off-site construction approach. We have almost a decade of experience in off-site construction include several major projects, research, and code development.

Contact us for more information.

About Banksia:

Banksia is a fire protection and life safety consulting firm located in New York City. We work with clients in commercial real estate, energy, industrial, residential, science, and more to create spaces that meet their goals — and meet all compliance requirements.

Haavard Boehmer

About Haavard Boehmer

Haavard has over 14 years of experience with complex performance-based fire protection design, forensic analysis, and fire research. His work focuses on application of computer modeling of fire and pedestrian movement to analyze problems such as smoke extraction, structural fire exposure, evacuation and crowd management, and battery gas release. He was lead researcher for the 2020 NFPA Research Foundation report on Fire Hazards of Modern Vehicles.