Toppenish School District celebrates new cross-laminated timber modular classrooms

Pilot project brings potential environmental and economic benefits as well as efficiency in construction process

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

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 the Toppenish School District, four classrooms were constructed at Valley View Elementary.

"The four classrooms constructed using CLT at Toppenish School District demonstrate the success of this innovative process. The classrooms are quality classrooms constructed at a significantly less cost," said Toppenish Public Schools Superintendent John Cerna. "Toppenish School District plans on adding 10 more CLT classrooms in the near future."

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.

"Demand for Washington's timber industry has been in decline for decades, impacting many of our rural communities," said Gov. Jay Inslee. "The manufacturing of cross-laminated timber has the potential to strengthen local economies and grow jobs."
"The more I've learned about how the Yakama Nation and other land stewards in this region are working to create more resilient, healthy forests the more I'm convinced that cross laminated timber can expand these efforts by providing a quality product, jobs and sustenance for Washington's forestry economy," said Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz. "CLT can deliver ideal classroom spaces while protecting the natural environment, where children also learn so much, through a return to healthier, less crowded ecosystems."

CLT Pilot

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 Valley View Elementary, four modular classrooms are being built in each of the following school districts:

Western Washington

  • Mount Vernon School District – Jefferson Elementary
  • Seattle School District – Maple Elementary
  • Sequim School District – Greywolf Elementary

Eastern Washington

  • Wapato School District – Adams Elementary

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.

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