Climate Smart Wood Group’s technical team partners produced guidance about how to get better options and results sourcing climate-smart wood at each major project stage.

Owners and project teams have numerous potential motivations to use climate smart wood in construction. These include but are not limited to: project ESG goals, improved tenant environment, and pro forma cost benefit among others.

Projects considering mass timber as a structural system typically make a commitment to proceed at three different stages.

  • Day-one of design: A project that is committed to mass timber from day-one provides the best lead time and opportunities to engage with the supply chain and secure climate-smart wood (CSW).
  • At the end of Conceptual Design or early in Schematic Design: This scenario may involve comparison between a mass timber system and alternative materials. Here, presenting the potential for climate benefits associated with CSW sourcing can inform structural option comparisons and material selection.
  • Near the end of the Design Development phase: Parallel designs of mass timber compared with steel and/or concrete systems can extend deeper into the design process. If sourcing considerations are not part of discussions earlier than DD, many key decisions have already been made and CSW options become more limited.

There may be inherent tensions within traditional delivery methods (ie, SD, DD, CD, CA) where the final specification for timber elements are not released until sometime in the CD phase or even end of CD phase. If the scope is bid from the final CD spec and drawings without earlier work to explore specification options with prospective CSW vendors, opportunities to secure the best set of outcomes may be lost.

As a general rule, Design-Build delivery offers more opportunity for early and regular collaboration on procurement priorities.

Whatever the method, every opportunity to plan and build a range of options ahead of formally beginning procurement will reduce or eliminate problems with cost premiums, schedule concerns, material availability and vendor skill and willingness to support CSW procurement.

Finally, there are many more opportunities to incorporate CSW procurement in a project beyond the structural system or other mass timber components. Oftentimes nonstructural wood elements of a design are easier to source creatively since they are not as beholden to structural or code performance parameters. Do not overlook CSW sourcing opportunities for interiors or envelope systems as these can arguably serve as an even more engaging touchpoint than structural systems for owners and their tenants.

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