Clemson University creates new institute focusing on new markets for wood-based construction materials

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Clemson University announced that it has formed a new institute whose founders hope to change how commercial buildings are constructed in the U.S.

Clemson’s Wood Utilization + Design Institute (WU+D) will leverage the university’s assets in forestry, architecture, construction science and engineering to design, test and market innovative, sustainable wood-based materials for use in a commercial construction market dominated by steel and concrete, Clemson University said in a new statement.

In the process, WU+D hopes to forge new markets for South Carolina’s $17 billion forest products industry, form partnerships with corporations needing product design consultation and testing, and prepare Clemson students to take leadership roles in designing and marketing future innovations in wood-based construction technology.

“South Carolina has the timber, design and manufacturing muscle to produce sustainable wood-based solutions that challenge conventional approaches to commercial building. And Clemson has the resources to help make it happen,” WU+D director Patricia Layton stated.

A Clemson University Creative Inquiry team of civil engineering and construction science students led by civil engineering professor Scott Schiff already has performed extensive testing of the Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), which is comprised of wood boards laminated perpendicular to each other in three to nine layer panels. The panels are manufactured and machined, then brought to construction sites for precise assembly.

WU+D also will develop forest-management methodologies that result in improved wood fiber production, and will design other wood-based construction solutions using materials that include engineered wood, such as oriented strand board (OSB).

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