PDX expansion may use eco-friendly wood products

Civic Affairs

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The $1.3 billion, 5-year expansion of Portland International Airport could incorporate a new wood products technology its adherents say is the eco-friendly future of wood products. 

If you havn’t heard the term Cross Laminated Timber — CLT — you will. A 12-story building in the Pearl District  is made primarily from huge laminated wood floor and wall panels, beams and posts. 

Bill Browning of the design firm Terrapiin Bright Green in Portland, March 22, 2018 (KOIN)

Bill Browning, the founder of design firm Terrapin Bright Green looking at the airport redesign, said not only is cross- laminated timber comparable to steel and concrete, it’s more friendly to the environment. 

Trees threatened by bug infestations are “really, really effective for making mass timber,” he said at a Thursday morning gathering of the International Mass Timber Conference in Portland. “Fire damaged areas are really effective. Small, new growth is really effective. The stuff that you thin out can really be used. It’s a form that potentially could avoid the clear-cutting conversations.”

People inspect cross-laminated timber in Portland (KOIN, file)

Mass timbers — laminated wood floor panels — support beams and posts are being considered as prominent design elements in the renovation of the core terminal area at PDX.

Portland mayor Ted Wheeler, who also attended the conference, said mass timber is the next engine of Oregon’s timber economy. Some studies suggest it could add anywhere from $338 million to over $1 billion annually to Oregon’s economy. 

“And,” the mayor said, “it could create up to 17,300 jobs in the state. So the promise of CLT is significant.”

No final design decisions have been made as far as the airport remodel, but it’s hard to see how the Port of Portland could avoid using a home grown, sustainable wood product that’s been part of Oregon’s past and desperately wants to be part of its future.

Inside Portland International Airport, March 22, 2018 (KOIN)

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