Auburn University hosting first international cross-laminated timber conference in southern U.S.

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The Auburn University College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, in partnership with other academic colleges and administrative offices, will host the first international cross-laminated timber, or CLT, conference to be held in the southern United States next month at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

The three-day event titled “The Sustainable Future of CLT in the South: Grow. Design. Build.” will be held April 27-29 and will feature renowned experts in forestry, building sciences, engineering and architecture and design who will share the latest CLT research, trends and developments in the South.

CLT is a prefabricated wood panel made from wood stacked and glued crosswise in alternating directions to create pressed layers. This unique engineering gives the panel exceptional strength and strong fire protection, while remaining lighter and creating less waste during installation than conventional alternatives, such as concrete and steel.

It is considered a sustainable material that is safe and cost-effective for commercial construction while offering structural simplicity and design versatility.

Because of its relative structural strength, appearance, ability to sequester carbon and numerous other benefits, the growing use of CLT in the South benefits developers, contractors, architects, engineers, foresters and landowners.

Following a design and theme centered on the CLT supply chain, plenary and concurrent sessions will explore diverse topics, including current and future implications for forest management, the wood products sector, mass timber markets and economies. Presenters also will discuss the importance of certified, sustainable wood materials and products in the green building industry and the structural design, construction, performance and operation of CLT buildings.

The conference will feature experts from Auburn, Clemson University, the University of Miami, Mississippi State University, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or SFI, the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials, or CORRIM, WoodWorks Wood Products Council, TimberLab Inc., SmartLam North America, Cooper Carry Architects and RDH Building Science.

“This is an amazing opportunity for a variety of stakeholders to come together to network, learn about and share the latest advancements within the CLT and sustainable wood products industries,” said conference planner Adam Maggard, assistant professor and Alabama Extension specialist in the College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. “This synergy makes this conference a truly one-of-a-kind premier event.”

Among the keynote speakers is Jeff Peters, regional director of WoodWorks in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. Peters, whose role is to provide education and free technical support to help project teams realize successful wood buildings, is seeing tremendous interest in CLT for its sustainability and performance.

“This conference reflects the wonderful confluence of growing demand and significant effort on the part of landowners and manufacturers to bring innovative wood products to market,” Peters said. “It’s also especially well-timed, given the tall wood options now available to designers in Birmingham. It’s a great opportunity for design professionals to learn more about CLT and hear a variety of perspectives.”

Two concurrent sessions will focus on forestry, mills, manufacturing and markets and architecture, building construction and engineering. Both sessions will also include presentations on sustainability related to each sessions’ theme.

“We have designed the concurrent sessions to address the unique needs of multiple audiences, including designers, builders, contractors, academia, landowners, producers and suppliers,” Maggard said.

Additionally, participants may choose from one of two tours that showcase CLT manufacturing and construction in Alabama. The first tour will visit the SmartLam North America CLT manufacturing plant in Dothan, the first of its kind in the region. At this facility, participants will learn how CLT is engineered and prefabricated to a building project's exact specifications and requirements.

Attendees who choose the second tour will visit Auburn’s recently completed 41,500-square-foot Advanced Structural Engineering Lab to learn about CLT structural testing research. Partially designed using CLT, this laboratory features a 4,700-cubic-foot geotechnical test chamber and a wind testing facility.

Following the lab, the tour will continue to the Hey Day Market located at the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center at Auburn University. The 9,000-square-foot building houses a dining hall and business center and was constructed using CLT and glue-laminated timber, or GLT.

In addition to the various CLT building projects underway at Auburn, the College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences actively works to increase awareness of the many benefits of CLT and to promote its use for construction in Alabama and beyond through its innovative research and outreach initiatives.

“Given the widespread economic impact of CLT in the state and region, we feel it is important that Auburn should host this conference with its partners in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and the offices of Sustainability and Planning, Design and Construction,” Maggard said.

Accommodations will be available at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. More information about registration, sponsorship and exhibit opportunities is available on the conference website.

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The Auburn University College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment is a flagship institution for natural resources-based degrees including natural resource management, geospatial and environmental informatics and sustainable biomaterials and packaging. The school serves as the backbone for Alabama’s $30 billion+ forest, wildlife and natural resources related enterprises. Its mission is to create next-generation professionals and leaders, to develop new knowledge and disseminate science-based solutions to our clientele to improve the social, economic and environmental well-being of citizens in Alabama and beyond.