Timber Age Systems Inc. hopes to tackle wildfire mitigation efforts, economic development and affordable housing with a new facility
Timber Age Systems Inc., a Durango-based company specializing in manufacturing cross-laminated lumber for sustainable construction projects, plans to expand its manufacturing capacity and develop a new facility after receiving a grant from the Department of Health Colorado Public and Environmental Affairs. Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity Program.
The grant of approximately $ 440,000 will cover the creation of a new 2,500 to 3,000 square foot manufacturing facility in La Plata County, which will triple the capacity of Timber Age, said co-founder Andrew Hawk. It will also help the company recruit more employees and increase its use of locally harvested ponderosa pines.
Timber Age Systems aims to create usable wood products from fire mitigation efforts in the Southwest. The company pulls all the wood it uses from fire mitigation projects, turning to public and private lands for the ponderosa pines it needs.
This diverts trees that would typically be wasted while creating economic opportunities and a product that local builders can use. It’s all part of Timber Age Systems’ efforts to use sustainable construction to create healthy forests.
“If ponderosa pine is to be removed from the forest from a forest health and fire mitigation standpoint, we as a community have to figure out what to do with it. And we need some kind of market for that, ”Hawk said. “It was therefore as much about determining how to use the wood and diverting it from landfills or incineration as it was about determining how to put it in buildings”
Timer Age Systems’ manufacturing process attempts to maximize sustainability, linking local builders to local forests.
“We were able to do the round trip from where the tree was harvested to our manufacturing facility back to a structure in less than 50 miles,” said Hawk.
Cross-laminated timber was first developed in Austria and Germany in the 1990s, according to Erol Karacabeyli, a scientist at FPInnovations, in “US Cross Laminated Timber Handbook. “It was designed to replace concrete and steel in the construction of commercial, industrial and multi-family residential complexes.
“The Europeans developed it so that they can create buildings with a lower carbon footprint and an overall improvement in energy demand in terms of heating, cooling and building maintenance costs,” said Hawk.
Cross-laminated timber buildings are 60% to 70% more energy efficient than traditional buildings, Hawk said. They can also be assembled 40% faster.
The use of cross-laminated timber in construction projects has increased in Europe but has fallen behind in the United States Over the past decade, cross-laminated buildings have started to grow. proliferate in the Pacific Northwest, but they have not yet succeeded in southwest Colorado.
“The market is growing,” Hawk said. “I would say he’s slow and he’s currently small. But with the recent focus by municipalities on workforce housing, employee housing, quick housing solutions, the conversation is intensifying. “
Hawk said cross-laminated lumber could help solve the current housing crisis in southwest Colorado. With faster construction times, housing complexes can be built inexpensively, entering the market at lower prices.
As Timber Age Systems grows, it plans to continue to champion its wood products as a sustainable building material and solution for fire mitigation and affordable housing.
“We knew that part of our initial business model had to be education, that we were going to have to work with architects, structural designers, engineers and contractors,” said Hawk.
“It’s gaining momentum. It is absolutely gaining momentum, ”he added.
If you’re wondering about the risks of building with cross-laminated timber in an area with wildfires, Hawk said don’t worry.
“What has been shown in national and global fire studies is that it takes much longer for the structure to become unsafe or to collapse than if it were a steel house. or traditional frame, ”he said. “So they work pretty well on fire. “