Wapato 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 Wapato School District is celebrating completion of the first new modular classrooms in Eastern Washington 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 Wapato School District, four first-grade classrooms were constructed at Adams Elementary.

"I want to congratulate the Wapato School District on its new classrooms at Adams Elementary School. This addition utilized the latest modern cross-laminated timber construction technology using Northwest trees that in the past have not been economical to harvest," said Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima, a former teacher and school administrator. "This new building technology will reduce wildfire fuels in our forests while providing a reduction of K-3 class sizes in our schools. It's a great project for our economy, our environment and our kids."

A ribbon cutting for the new classrooms at Adams Elementary School will be held at 11 a.m. June 7 at the school, 1309 S. Camas Ave., Wapato.

"I am excited about the completion of the four new classrooms built on the Adams Elementary School campus using the cross laminated timber technology," said Wapato Public Schools Superintendent, Becky Imler. "This provides us yet another opportunity to increase our facility capacity in support of our work to increase student achievement. I greatly appreciate the support of the Legislature in picking us for this project. The District looks forward to bringing these classrooms on line for the start of the 2017-2018 school year."

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."

"I'm so excited to see this project happening in Wapato. As stewards of this land, the Yakama Nation works hard to maintain healthy forests while managing for beetle infestation, disease and wildfire." said Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz. "CLT can support such work by providing a great way for us to turn unhealthy trees into a marketable product, create jobs, sustain the forestry economy and most importantly, return our state's forests to less crowded, healthier ecosystems. CLT can not only provide a stellar building material that strong and sustainable but also delivers a healthy, inspiring learning environment. The Department of Natural Resources is so grateful to see these projects happening and I anticipate many more on the horizon."

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 Jefferson 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

  • Toppenish School District – Valley View Elementary

Upcoming celebration

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held for the four classrooms built at Adams Elementary at 11 a.m. June 7 at, Adams Elementary, 1309 S. Camas Ave., Wapato, WA 98951.

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.

Follow Enterprise Services on Twitter.

Learn more about Visitor Services on Facebook.