First Washington State cross-laminated timber modular classrooms complete

Pilot project examines environmental and economic benefits as well as efficiencies in construction process

The Mount Vernon School District is celebrating completion of the first new modular classrooms using an innovative new building product called of cross-laminated timber (CLT) under a pilot project overseen by the state Department of Enterprise Services and funded by the state Legislature.

In all, 20 kindergarten through third-grade classrooms will be constructed using CLT in five school district sites in Washington. CLT is a prefabricated, solid engineered wood panel. CLT stores and sequesters carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere, and is a renewable natural resource. In Mount Vernon, four third-grade classrooms were constructed at Jefferson Elementary.

"The cross-laminated timber pilot project is a win for the economy, the environment and for public schools where additional classroom space is needed," said Gov. Jay Inslee, who will attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Jefferson Elementary for the new classrooms on Monday, May 15.

"Increasing enrollment, together with implementation of full day kindergarten and smaller class sizes, has taxed our elementary school facilities well beyond their capacity," said Mount Vernon School District Superintendent Carl Bruner. "Participating in the CLT pilot program has allowed us to be on the front end of a much more durable and desirable alternative to portable classrooms."

CLT is manufactured in the Northwest using trees that in the past have not been economical to harvest, including Douglas fir, Western hemlock and other trees that have diameters as small as 4 inches -- including some dead or diseased trees. Forests in the state are filled with such trees, which can fuel wildfires and pest outbreaks.

"I'm so excited to see school projects like this showing off CLT. The team should be commended for their work to stimulate the market for this innovative wood product with its opportunities for manufacturing and rural jobs – all using locally produced wood," says Hilary S. Franz, the state's Commissioner of Public Lands.

The state's 2016 supplemental capital budget included $5.5 million in the state building construction account for the pilot project to construct the classrooms and to measure:

  • Efficiencies in the construction process.
  • Other environmental and economic benefits from using the engineered wood products.
    • "The cross-laminated timber classrooms are exactly the type of pilot project we need more of because there are huge potential benefits for both the economy and the environment," said Enterprise Services Director Chris Liu. "I'd like to thank the Governor and the Legislature, the participating school districts and our private sector partners for helping to make this happen."

      In addition to the pilot project, the Department of Enterprise Services oversees numerous public works design and construction projects on behalf of the state.

      Additional CLT projects

      In addition to the classrooms being built at Jefferson elementary, four modular classrooms are being built in each of the following school districts:

      Western Washington

      • Seattle School District – Maple Elementary
      • Sequim School District Greywolf Elementary

      Eastern Washington

      • Wapato School District – Adams Elementary
      • Toppenish School District – Valley View Elementary

      Upcoming celebration

      A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held for the four classrooms built at Jefferson Elementary at 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 15, at Jefferson Elementary, 1801 E Blackburn Rd, Mount Vernon, WA 98274.

      More information

      Learn more about the pilot project and the potential benefits that will be assessed on the DES Cross-Laminated Timber Pilot Project webpage.

      View the CLT Flickr photo album.

      View the Walsh Construction time-lapse video of CLT work at Jefferson Elementary.