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ARS Home » Nutrition, Food Safety/Quality » Research » Research Project #441123

Research Project: Sustainable Design and Construction with Innovative Wood Products

Location: Nutrition, Food Safety/Quality

Project Number: 0500-00090-001-005-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2022
End Date: Jun 30, 2025

The overarching goal of this project is to provide companies in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) with fundamental and applied knowledge, and training necessary to develop competitive leadership in emerging domestic and global markets for innovative sustainable structural wood products. Success will increase the value of the region’s forests, support sustainable management, and grow the number of manufacturing jobs in rural communities. The PNW is becoming a national hub for the mass-timber industry, growing its capacity to manufacture mass-timber building components, and broadening the spectrum of value-added wood products available for use in buildings. The entrepreneurial spirit in manufacturing is complemented by the region’s progressive building design profession, which is ideally positioned to expand on its reputation for sustainable design, and establish itself as North America’s hub for expertise in innovative wood building design. However, innovating on such a wide front requires robust research aimed at removing existing barriers, filling persistent gaps in knowledge, as well as building new knowledge in relevant disciplines and providing state-of-the-art training for the expert workforce to support that growth. This project will provide focused research, education, and workforce development to help the region’s business community capitalize on the growing global interest in using more innovative sustainable wood products in the built environment. Our aim is to provide knowledge that helps stimulate markets, remove barriers, foster innovation, understand and mitigate risks, and inform capital and cost analyses. Our objectives fall into several broad categories: 1) Conduct research to stimulate innovation in timber building design, in smart structural wood products and related building components. 2) Address pressing research needs in the area of structural and fire safety, health and livability in wood-based structures through mechanical, acoustic, environmental testing, as well as through numerical modeling and simulation. 3) Facilitate building construction approvals and processes. 4) Develop more fact-based and nuanced understanding of the environmental impact of wood products through life cycle analysis including biogenic research on carbon. 5) Foster markets for wood buildings. 6) Disseminate and communicate research findings to scientists, manufacturers, designers, relevant public-sector personnel and communities. Our objectives fall into several broad categories: Conduct research to stimulate new wood building design; expand and develop innovative wood products and building components. Address safety and livability in mass timber structures through fire, acoustic, and environmental testing. Facilitate building construction approvals and processes. Understand the environmental impact of wood products through life cycle analysis including biogenic research on carbon. Foster markets for wood buildings. Effectively disseminate and communicate research findings to scientists, manufacturers, designers, and relevant public-sector personnel.

Within the College of Forestry, research projects are conducted in close collaboration with the TallWood Design Institute (TDI). TDI is a top research and outreach collaborative, funded primarily by the State of Oregon, focusing exclusively on the advancement of structural wood products. Housed at the OSU’s College of Forestry, the institute is a partnership among OSU’s College of Forestry, College of Engineering, and University of Oregon’s College of Design. Thus, TDI brings together a unique set of expertise in architecture, wood science, and engineering to focus on the development and use of innovative wood products and building components capable of being produced in the Pacific Northwest and the U.S. TDI provides research and educational programs that support the growing use of wood in the construction of new configurations of wood building with new engineered materials. Project research will be mission focused and guided by stakeholders. As such, research selection will be provided by an advisory committee of industry stakeholders including architects, manufacturers, engineers, construction professionals, market specialists, thought leaders, and peers in the scientific community. This research will be capitalizing on the existing infrastructure at OSU and UO, especially the newly opened A.A. Red Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory, along with faculty capacity and industry partnerships. Project resources will support graduate student training and research, providing outstanding opportunities to engage top faculty, utilize world class facilities, and engage innovative industry and community leaders. Students will have the opportunity to contribute to cutting edge technological innovation that addresses socially relevant challenges while working in a multidisciplinary environment. Areas of research needed to advance the construction of wooden buildings with innovative engineered materials include: • Life cycle analysis of mass timber products and buildings • Research on digital design and fabrication • Wood product replacement of existing steel/concrete roof and/or floor systems • Vertical load and lateral force system analysis • Seismic, fire, fatigue, and moisture-related performance • Environmental, vibrational and acoustic performance • Modular system design for use in affordable and fast deployment housing • Manufacturing and material innovation • Code compliance/validation • Explore mass timber and it’s ability to address carbon sequestration • Building and synthesis of previous ARS supported research • Human health and microbiome of interior wood • Sustainable business and manufacturing practices • Collaboration with the private sector driven by industry needs • Tangible benefits to the industry over the next 2-5 years Research will be prioritized in consultation with the various advisory committees and industry partners, and contingent upon availability of scientists and students. Research projects will demonstrate that they fully address real-world challenges and opportunities, aiming to produce relevant impacts in two to five years. We strongly encourage interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers and holist.