Timber Age Systems Inc. hopes to respond to wildfire mitigation efforts, economic development and affordable housing with new facility
Timber Age Systems Inc., a Durango company specializing in manufacturing cross-laminated timber for sustainable construction projects, plans to expand manufacturing capacity and develop a new facility after receiving a grant from the Department of Health Public and Environmental Department of Colorado. Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity Program.
The roughly $440,000 grant will cover the establishment of a new 2,500 to 3,000 square foot manufacturing facility in La Plata County that will triple Timber Age’s capacity, said co-founder Andrew Hawk. It will also help the company add 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 sources all the wood it uses in 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 opportunity 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 perspective, we as a community need to figure out what to do with it. And we need some sort of market for that,” Hawk said. “So it was as much about figuring out how to use wood and diverting it from landfill or burning as it was figuring out how to put it in buildings”
Timer Age Systems’ own manufacturing process tries to maximize sustainability, connecting local builders to local forests.
“We were able to get back and forth from where the tree was harvested to our manufacturing facility in a structure in less than 50 miles,” Hawk said.
Cross-laminated timber was first developed in Austria and Germany in the 1990s, according to Erol Karacabeyli, a scientist at FPInnovations, in the “American handbook on cross-laminated timber.” It was designed to replace concrete and steel in the construction of commercial, industrial and multi-family residential complexes.
“The Europeans developed it so they could create buildings with a lower carbon footprint and an overall improvement in energy demand in terms of the cost of heating, cooling and maintaining the building,” Hawk said.
CLT buildings are 60 to 70 percent 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 lagged in the United States Over the past decade, cross-laminated buildings have begun to proliferate throughout the Pacific Northwest, but they haven’t made their way into southwestern Colorado yet.
“The market is growing,” Hawk said. “I would say it’s slow and currently small. But with the recent focus by municipalities on workforce housing, employee housing, fast-paced housing solutions, the conversation is heating up.
Hawk said cross-laminated timber could help solve the current housing crisis in southwestern Colorado. With faster construction times, housing complexes can be built more cheaply, entering the market at lower prices.
As Timber Age Systems expands, it plans to continue championing its wood products as a sustainable building material and fire mitigation and affordable housing solution.
“We knew part of our initial business model had to be education, that we were going to need to work with architects, structural designers, engineers, contractors,” Hawk said.
“It’s getting bigger. It is absolutely contagious,” 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 collapse than if it were a steel or traditional frame house. “, did he declare. “So they work pretty well in the fire.”