EconTracker News

Aug 17, 2011 8:51 AM by Katy Harris (KAJ News)

Cutting edge building going up in Whitefish

WHITEFISH- The first commercial cross laminated timber building in the United States is popping up in Whitefish and Smartwoods of Whitefish is hoping their method of building structures will catch on in North America.

Whitefish is the first town in America to see this technology driven system that delivers a prefabricated solid wood wall building faster, more efficiently and without any solid waste. It's called cross laminated timber and is pre-manufactured wood, held together with bolts, to construct buildings in a timely, cost-efficient, sustainable manner.

"We think it's a very important project because it sort of marks the advent of changing not only how we process wood, but how we design and engineer buildings in this country." Smartwoods founder and director Pete Kobelt explained.

Smartwoods of Whitefish is adopting the innovative timber system that is often seen in Europe. But, only a few buildings of its kind have been produced in North America and Whitefish is setting the stage for the first cross laminated building in the United States.

"This CLT system of cross laminated timber can be used for floors, walls, roofs, anything that a building requires," Kobelt told us.

The wood is prefabricated to excel assembly time and the installation process includes the large format, solid wood walls to be put in place with a crane.

"It's an entirely different technique than shipping stacks of sticks, stud lumber and banging nails together. Theres 7,500 screws holding this building together rather than any nails which also is great because if you ever wanted to rebuild, remodel or grow you can pull screws out, pull panels out, add new ones and grow," said Kobelt.

Smartwoods hopes to set up a manufacturing facility in Columbia Falls to begin building more cross laminated timber.

Wednesday is Day 3 of the Smartwoods main office being built at First and Spokane in Whitefish and Kobelt says the building will be finished on Day 5.

Contact Katy Harris

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