Mass Timber and Embodied Carbon: Designing for a Sustainable Future


  • Public
  • April 22, 2019 4:30 PM - April 22, 2019 8:00 PM ((GMT-05:00) Eastern Time)
  • Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center
  • 60 Lake Street, Burlington, VT 05401, United States (View Map)
  • Join the Vermont Forest Industry Network and WoodWorks for an evening of networking and learning about mass timber and its role in the emerging discussion of embodied carbon in construction. Speakers include Alan Organschi, a partner at Gray Organschi Architecture in New Haven, CT and director of the Yale interdisciplinary research initiative Timber City, Nicole St. Clair Knobloch, a national climate policy expert and recent Bullard Fellow in Forest Research at the Harvard Forest of Harvard University and Ricky McLain, a Vermont-based structural engineer and technical director at WoodWorks.

    Thanks to our sponsor Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center for donating facility space. Attendees will be eligible for 2.0 AIA/CES HSW LUs or 0.20 ICC continuing education credits. Credits are being processed by WoodWorks – Wood Products Council (AIA Provider # G516)

    Program and Agenda

    It has been well documented that we are at a crossroads. The need for construction—in particular urban construction—has never been higher while the need to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions is also at an all-time high. While much attention has been given to green building design and construction over the past several decades, the focus has primarily been on energy efficiency. Embodied carbon—a measure of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere in order to produce building materials—often has an equally important impact on a building’s sustainability. Wood, including mass timber, is one of the only structural building materials that has the ability to be carbon negative; in other words, the carbon required to harvest trees and process them into building materials is more than offset by the sequestration of carbon by the wood. This seminar will introduce the concept of using mass timber in the building designer’s toolbelt as a means of reducing embodied carbon in construction. It will start with an overview of mass timber—products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) as well as built projects—and discuss applications, appropriate building types and scales, and allowable uses under the Vermont Building Code and International Building Code. The potential to transform dense urban centers into massive carbon sinks will be highlighted, made possible through the broad implementation of emerging mass timber construction technologies and policies that promote timber building in cities and sustainable management of source forests. Finally, the topic of carbon monetization will be reviewed, touching on housing policy, construction needs and how mass timber’s tremendous potential for reductions in embodied carbon can help facilitate long overdue carbon shifts in infrastructure.


    4:30 doors open, cash bar, hors d’oeuvres

    5:30 – 6:00: Mass Timber Design and Construction: What Architects and Designers Need to Know, Ricky McLain, WoodWorks

    6:00 – 7:00: Urban Solutions for a Global Carbon Challenge: Timber City, Alan Organschi, Grey Organschi Architecture

    7:00 – 7:20: Break, drinks, snacks

    7:20 – 7:50: Carbon Monetization: Incentivizing the Shift to Scalable, Sustainable Solutions: Nicole St. Clair Knobloch, Olifant

    7:50 – 8:00: Q&A

    Speaker Bios:

    Ricky McLain, P.E., S.E., WoodWorks

    Ricky is a licensed Structural Engineer and Professional Engineer in the states of New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, and is a Technical Director WoodWorks Project Resources and Solutions Division. He has extensive experience in lead engineer roles related to the structural design, project management and construction administration of new single-family, multi-family, municipal, industrial, and mixed-used buildings. Before joining WoodWorks, Ricky was a Senior Structural Engineer for a New England-based consultant, working on projects in the Northeast from Maine to Maryland. He is Executive Director of the Structural Engineers Association of Vermont and is a member of the ASCE Structural Wind Engineering Committee. Ricky received a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Maine and an MS in Structural Engineering from Norwich University.

    Alan Organschi, Gray Organschi Architecture

    Alan Organschi is a partner at Gray Organschi Architecture, a firm recognized internationally for its work in architectural design and environmental research. He also the founder of JIG Design Build, which engages in the research, prototyping, fabrication, and installation of building components and systems, and a faculty member at the Yale School of Architecture. In 2012, Mr. Organschi and his partner Elizabeth Gray were honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters with an American Academy Award in Architecture. In 2014-15, he served as a member of the USDA Tall Wood Building Prize Competition assessment team. Today, with support from the Hines Fund for Advanced Sustainability Research in Architecture at Yale, he directs the interdisciplinary research initiative Timber City, which examines potentially regenerative supply chains linking sustainable forest management and dense urban development of housing and infrastructure in wood.

    Nicole St. Clair Knobloch, Olifant

    Nicole St. Clair Knobloch has spent much of her career working on climate policy and solutions to address climate change. She has recently worked at the New England Forestry Foundation and was a 2017-2018 Bullard Fellow in Forest Research at the Harvard Forest of Harvard University. She is the founder of Olifant, LLC, a new venture to develop projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help finance conservation. Olifant’s first project is to pursue a pilot in the Boston area to “monetize” the carbon in mass timber buildings to encourage their uptake at a large scale.

    Previously, Nicole has been Associate Director, Washington, D.C. for the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions of Duke University where she worked directly on federal climate legislation; directed communications for the climate campaigns at Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council (also in Washington, D.C.), and developed shareholder resolutions and corporate engagement strategies at Ceres, an organization focused on corporate responsibility for the environment, based in Boston.

    This event is co-sponsored by the Vermont Green Building Network.


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