Wood and timber industry leaders and researchers gathered in Knoxville, Tennessee, from June 4 to 6 for the Forest Products Society Conference. Below are the highlights from changing building codes and standards and the role of research and collaboration to preparing the mass timber industry for a sustainable future.

Mass Timber: A Game-Changer for Sustainable Construction

Our goal at the IMTA is to promote mass timber construction globally. Our mission focuses on identifying barriers to using mass wood in residential and commercial building applications, pursuing scientific research, and disseminating data to support the development of building codes that reflect timber as an energy-efficient and sustainable building material.

We believe mass timber has the potential to reduce buildings’ carbon footprints significantly. Mass timber structures can sequester carbon, effectively turning buildings into carbon sinks rather than sources of emissions.

Highlights from the 2024 Forest Products Society Conference

Wood and timber industry leaders and researchers gathered in Knoxville, Tennessee, from June 4 to 6 for the Forest Products Society Conference. 

We led a panel discussion at the FPS conference focused on mass wood building thermal envelope updates and applications. The panel of experts included Josh Beasley (Honest Abe Log Homes), Rob Pickett (RobPickett &Associates), Mikael Salonvaara (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), and Liam O’Brien (University of Maine Graduate Research Assistant).

Other FPS conference sessions pertained to CLT and Mass Timber, bio-based adhesives used in CLTs, Advancing the Circular Economy, and sustainable construction materials. This year’s presentations focused on using organic fibers (wood, hemp) to create building insulation products – blown, batt, and rigid board.

We were especially intrigued by Jason Street’s presentation. He hails from Mississippi State University. Jason examined the hygrothermal behavior of untreated and treated Southern Yellow Pine CLT panels in simulated flooding conditions. He aims to understand the impact of flood waters on submerged construction and the necessary remedial efforts in the aftermath of flooding. His research highlights the ongoing efforts to expand mass timber applications and improve its resilience in various environmental conditions, further solidifying its position as a versatile and sustainable building material.

Building Codes & Standards are Changing for Timber Buildings

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), developed by the International Code Council, continues in a new format.  After considerable manipulation of the code development process during the 2021 cycle, the IECC is now being developed in the standards development.  As opposed to the code approval process of voting by governmental members, ICC’s ANSI Approved Consensus Procedures is used to develop standards.  The IECC standard covers various aspects of building thermal design, including walls, floors, ceilings, lighting, windows, doors, and air leakage.

The development process for the 2024 IECC is well underway, and public comments will again be considered this Fall. This presents an opportunity for mass timber industry stakeholders to influence the direction of future building codes and ensure they reflect the latest advancements in sustainable building materials and practices. This is why testing and gathering data are so important for the future of the mass timber industry.

The Role of Research & Collaboration

The Forest Product Society conference also stressed the importance of international collaboration in advancing mass timber technology. The College of Forestry at Oregon State University is partnering with researchers from Slovenia and Finland to share data on structural health monitoring for mass timber buildings. And many connections are being fostered with South American scientists.  This type of collaboration is crucial for developing the knowledge and standards needed to support the widespread adoption of mass timber construction.

Preparing the Mass Timber Industry for a Sustainable Future

The forest products and timber industries are poised to be crucial in building a sustainable future. Advances in mass timber technology, coupled with evolving building codes and standards, present exciting opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of construction while creating beautiful, timeless, and durable structures.

The Forest Products Society Conference reminded us of the industry’s potential to drive positive change. By continuing to innovate, collaborate, and advocate for sustainable practices, the forest products industry can help shape a greener, more sustainable built environment for future generations.


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