Technology company Katerra opened a 270,000-square-foot cross laminated timber (CLT) facility in Spokane Valley, Wash. The facility will be North America’s highest volume CLT factory, according to the company.
CLT, a prefabricated and engineered wood panel is fully renewable and has the potential to replace steel and concrete in buildings up to 18 stories high. According to Katerra, the material offers “superior” building, aesthetic, environmental, and cost attributes compared to other building materials. The material also allows for more efficient and factory-built approaches to design and construction.
“CLT perfectly embodies Katerra’s guiding principles for product development – it is technologically advanced, sustainable, and offers meaningful cost and time reductions,” Michael Marks, CEO and cofounder of Katerra, said in a public statement. “We have invested in creating the largest capacity CLT factory in North America because we believe deeply in the potential of CLT and want to see this great material advance to the mainstream.”
The Washington state CLT facility reflects Katerra’s technology-first approach and incorporates geometric and biometric scanning of lamstock. The facility includes an on-site kiln for precise moisture control and artificial intelligence to improve safety and reduce waste. Katerra said the facility also includes the largest CLT press currently in operation globally. When fully operational, the factory will employ 105 people with an annual manufacturing capacity to provide thousands of apartments, student housing units, and more than 11 million square feet of floors and roofs.
Though introduced to the European market about 30 years ago, CLT is only now beginning to experience adoption in North America. Developers, designers, and builders using CLT claim the material is cost-competitive with other building materials while offering performance advantages over traditional materials. In December of last year, the International Code Council (ICC) adopted tall wood building codes for up to 18 stories, a positive sign for supporters of CLT.
Founded in 2015, Menlo Park, Calif.-based Katerra is attempting to optimize every aspect of building design, materials supply, and construction.