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Mass Timber Institute officially launched

November 5, 2018

By: The Working Forest Staff

The Mass Timber Institute officially launched on October 30 with an industry leaders’ collaboration event held at their offices at 110 Yonge Street in Toronto.

Key industry leaders from education and industry participated in this collaboration to help propel the mass timber industry forward.

In her welcome address, Anne Koven, director of the Mass Timber Institute spoke about the role MTI can play to push the industry ahead and how MTI can help the industry get access to so much more of the research that has been done.

An adjunct professor at the University of Toronto and a Forester, Koven said coming into the Mass Timber Institute has been a “surprise for me that I am enjoying very much as I Learn about your industry.  Mass timber starts with trees, but it is very much in the hands of the industry represented by the people in this room. This is a multi-discipline enterprise driven by designers building, architects, engineers, and contractors.”

“We plan to expand the Mass Timber Institute nationally and eventually internationally. Again, I want to convince you of the importance of the academic and industry connection and collaboration. Lots of good things have come out of this collaboration including the biotech industry, cures for diseases, nanotechnology and synthetic forms of cancer drugs. There have been many exciting results in academic and industry collaboration. It might be presumptuous of me to add mass timber products to this list, but I am going to,” said Koven.

The morning presentations provided focused discussions on opportunities and specific challenges that lie ahead for mas timber integration.  One of the critical challenges is the fact that the average practitioner (architect/engineer) does not have access to the specialist consultants that are developing today’s’ leading-edge mass timber projects. To gain market share, mass timber must be widely accessible.

A Building Science Guideline is under development by the Mass Timber Institute to serve as a knowledge map connecting the dots for the stakeholders.

Ted Kesik, Daniel’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto and Rosemary Martin, Ryerson university, outlined the objectives of the Building Science Guidelines.

Kesik explained that this guideline should be viewed as a transition publication until mass timber becomes fully supported by vertically integrated manufacturers, suppliers and constructor networks offering building systems solutions.

Kesik outlined key issues and concerns that include builders’ risk and property insurance, the need for an A+ design team, and the need to share mass timber knowledge with building code officials.

Martin added that once the Building Science Guideline draft is complete, it will be circulated to members for review and once revised, will be posted on the MTI website.

 Through 20 interviews from across the mass timber supply chain, Catherine Cobden of Cobden Strategies Inc. outlined her findings which include the fact that the market is looking for more material choices and there is a role for mass timber though there is a need for regulatory change to create a level playing field.

Cobden pointed out education is the most significant area to be addressed, and MTI can play a significant role.  “There are insufficient learning opportunities for mass timber in current curriculum across the chain.  While current efforts have focused on promotion and raising awareness of mass timber materials, we need to shift focus to deepening technical content and the development of course curriculum.”

In conclusion, Cobden said there is a lot of work to be done in research, education and skills development and MTI has the potential to support these objectives.

The presentation series was followed by an afternoon of industry leaders’ workshops designed to engage executives from both the building and academic sectors to explore strategies that can help overcome common challenges and move the mass timber industry forward.

 Caption: Rob Wright, Dean of the Faculty of Forestry and director of the Centre of Landscape Research, Daniel’s faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, U of T, opened the morning sessions with MTI’s vision for research and education to support mass timber in the marketplace.

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