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Industry & Trends

Has Mass Timber Building Become Too Popular for the Supply?

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February 28, 2024 | Warren Shoulberg

With a record number of projects under construction in the U.S. builders say they are running into supply problems.

The Mass Timber movement may be getting so popular that some people in the industry are worried about having enough timber for all the projects currently under construction. The online newsletter Bisnow reports that there are currently 767 mass timber projects being developed now and “this surge in demand is running into a supply chain marred by pandemic-era economics and trade policy that makes an already more expensive product even pricier.”

“Mass timber can’t move forward unless we can access more material and more manufacturers can come online and domestic supply can increase to drive cost down,” Sam Dicke, business development manager at Timberlab, told Bisnow.

According to the 2023 International Mass Timber Report, Bisnow reported, the 767 projects set for this year mark an increase from 600 such projects in 2020. An additional 910 are in the planning stages, it said.

But investments in mass timber materials aren’t keeping up with demand, American Wood Council CEO Jackson Morrill told the newsletter. “The manufacturing supply is not feeling the demand is high enough, so we’re not seeing build investments quite yet, and it’s created a sort of chicken-and-egg problem,” Morrill said. “I don’t know where it’s going to go, but I can tell you this: The benefits are too big and too great. It’s just a matter of time when we can find that equilibrium.” 

Government policies, Morrill said, have encouraged growers to increase mass timber supplies with new grant funding but there are also tougher environmental rules being considered.

One thing is clear: the laws of supply and demand generally overrule most other considerations so it’s likely as mass timber grows in popularity, the industry will find a way to meet that demand.

More information on mass timber will be available during the “Building the Future: The Rise of Mass Timber Manufacturing & Construction” session at IWF 2024.

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