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By Ryan McGeeney U of A System Division of AgricultureAug. 25, 2016
(698 words)(Newsrooms: art available at https://flic.kr/s/aHskFbzU3U)
LITTLE ROCK — Architecture and design experts with the U of A Fay Jones School of
Architecture recently met with timber and forestry experts for a day-long conference
intended to examine the feasibility of adopting a new timber technology that produces
structural wood products approaching the strength of steel.
Cross-laminate timber, commonly referred to as CLT, is a manufacturing technique which
combines layers of timber, cut to common dimensions such as 2’x6’, into extremely
strong finished materials that can be used in flooring, exterior walls and other building
The “Innovate Arkansas” conference, held Aug. 19 at the U of A Systems offices in
Little Rock, was a combined effort on the part of the U of A Fay Jones School of Architecture
and Design, the School of Forestry and Natural Resources at Monticello and the Arkansas
Forestry Resources Center. About 80 individuals involved in the fields of architecture,
engineering, building and forestry attended.
Philip Tappe, director of Forest Resources for the University of Arkansas System Division
of Agriculture, said architects and engineers within the university system had initially
ignited interest in making CLT a more viable construction material in the region.
“They’re really interested in getting a new industry in the state to produce cross-laminated
timbers,” Tappe said. “And we’re certainly supportive of it, but our mission for this
meeting was to inform all the attendees about the forest resources that are available
in Arkansas, and its current status.
“Right now in Arkansas, we’ve got about 19 million forested acres,” Tappe said. “We’ve
added 571 million tons of standing timber, about a 57 percent increase, over the last
four decades. We’re growing about 72 tons a minute of timber in our forests, and it’s
resulting in a surplus of about 15 million tons per year.”
Tappe said much of the forested area throughout the state is approaching a density
that is unsafe due to the increased risk of forest fires, pests and other dangers.
Tappe said the chief obstacle to enticing a private enterprise to establishing a CLT
manufacturing facility in Arkansas is the unknown amount of demand for the finished
product in the wider construction market.
Pete Kobelt, a construction consultant who has worked extensively with CLT materials,
told conference attendees that it would cost about $20 million to establish a 30,000
cubic meter CLT manufacturing facility, capable of processing about 12 million board
feet of timber a year, in Arkansas and to “do it right.”
“Is that a lot of money?” Kobelt asked. “Yeah. Is that a lot of money in the big picture,
to change the world? No. It’s a business model that probably generates about three-quarters
of a million dollars a month, on a pretty good margin, although that depends on how
well you can work with your supply chain partners, and how well you can vertically
integrate with a saw mill and some of the other variables.”
Kobelt said that while the use of CLT materials has been popular in European countries
for decades, builders in the United States have been comparatively slow to adopt the
“In thinking about this industry, I realized that there are a lot of good things going
on in Europe that we need to find a way to bring to the United States,” Kobelt said.
He compared the state of Montana with Germany, each of which has approximately the
same number of trees.
“Montana is down from a high of producing about 2 billion board feet a year to producing
about 400-500 million board feet a year, with just a few archaic saw mills chugging
along,” he said. “Meanwhile, Germany, with the same number of trees, is producing
12 billion board feet of value-added lumber products annually, much of it going into
products like CLT.”
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who welcomed the conference attendees, reminded
the crowd that the state’s adoption of new technologies in all sectors of the economy
was key to its continued growth.
“Every part of our economy is impacted by technology,” he said. “But it’s the diversity
of the economy that is critical to our state.”
To learn more about timber in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service
agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) 671-2126 firstname.lastname@example.org