SFWS hosts stakeholders for sustainable construction seminar and discussion on the emerging biobased economy

Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences hosted a seminar and reception, “Future of Tall: Building a Wood High-Rise in the U.S.,” on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at Auburn’s Telfair B. Peet Theatre. Thomas Robinson, accomplished architect and founder of the Portland, Oregon-based international architectural firm, LEVER Architecture, answered the question: Can high-rise buildings be made of wood?

Nearly 400 faculty, students and industry stakeholders were in attendance for the seminar where Robinson shared how the use of cross-laminated timber, or CLT, is revolutionizing sustainable construction with details about his firm’s pioneering use of CLT in “Framework”—a Portland construction project slated to become the first mass timber high-rise in the U.S.

The seminar and reception were organized in partnership with the Office of Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Facilities Management, Office of Sustainability, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, and Architecture, Design and Construction.

Prior to the seminar, the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences invited industry stakeholders, researchers and students to participate in a panel discussion and luncheon titled “Moving toward a Sustainable Bio-based Economy.” Auburn faculty guided academic and industry panelists in discussion about research and development of forest bio-based products such as cross-laminated timber and structural products, bio-energy and chemicals, nanocellulose and packaging.

To meet this need, the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences in collaboration with the colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, Business and Architecture, Design, and Construction has developed a new undergraduate degree program in Sustainable Biomaterials and Packaging.

One of the only programs of its kind in the Southeast, this interdisciplinary program will provide students with knowledge, expertise, and hands-on experience to prepare them for lucrative careers in the emerging bio-based industry that seeks more sustainable and economical alternatives to a petroleum based market.

Pending approval by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, it is anticipated the new degree will begin enrollment in the fall 2018.

In addition to many Auburn colleges and administrative units, the luncheon and seminar were sponsored by Regions Bank, Dixon-Moody Timber Group and Chirpwood Frames of East Alabama, International Beams, Forest Investment Associates, Timber Products Inspection, the Alabama Forestry Association and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee of Alabama.

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