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Building with Wood

  • Wood is renewable and often outperforms other materials in terms of energy usage and air pollution
  • Woods structures can be safely built to comply with building codes
  • The use of wood indoors can lower blood pressure, lower heart-rate, lower psychological stress, lower susceptibility to illness, and lead to a better ability to focus attention

Although steel and concrete skyscrapers typically fill modern city skylines, architects and engineers are beginning to reconsider the benefits of using wood as a material for tall buildings. Wood is a renewable material that results in lower levels of carbon emission than other major building materials. It can also be significantly less expensive, creating cost savings for producers and users.

Wood can be used to build skyscrapers more than 30 stories high with a new form of engineered material called cross-laminated timber (CLT). CLT panels manufactured in North America are up to 20 inches thick and are perpendicularly layered to make them strong in multiple directions. These panels are as strong as steel and are more fire resistant than other materials.

Despite the many advantages of wood building, architects and engineers are traditionally trained to work with materials like concrete and steel. WoodWorks is an organization that teach architects, engineers, and building code officials about the benefits of building with wood.

Current Activities

The Forest Service funded the Timber City exhibit at the National Building Museum in partnership with the Softwood Lumber Board.  This exhibit showcases the two winners of the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition and documents the tall wood building movement in the U.S. and worldwide.


A photo of the Timber City exhibition
Timber City: Installation Photo. Photo by Yassine al Mansouri, courtesy National Building Museum.


Upcoming Mass Timber Conference (March 28–30, 2017, Portland, OR)An image for a conference International Mass Timber Conference


Recent FS Research

An Overview of CLT Research and Implementation in North America

Mass Timber Research Needs compiled from the Mass Timber Research Workshop in November 2015


Information Sheets

Cross-laminated Timber & Green Building

Teaching Design Professional about Wood in Building


Visit these sites for more information on building with wood:

U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition

Logo of Forest Service Forest Products Lab Logo for Softwood Lumber Board
logo for woodworks logo for rethink wood


Contact Us

Contact a Federal Program Manager

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