New York City incentivizes mass timber construction through assistance program

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Nonprofit organization, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), has launched the New York City Mass Timber Studio, a program aimed at promoting and facilitating the development of mass-timber construction in the city. The initiative seeks to raise awareness about the benefits of mass timber, connect professionals in the building industry who are interested in the technique, and identify potential development opportunities throughout the city.

The NYCEDC and the Mayor’s Office for Climate and Environmental Justice will oversee the program in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service, the Softwood Lumber Board, WoodWorks, the AIA New York, and the NYC Department of Buildings. To support the development of mass timber projects, the program will award $25,000 grants to design teams. These grants will enable the teams to conduct design, technical, and economic feasibility assessments for mass timber construction.

According to NYCEDC President Andrew Kimball, the adoption of mass timber construction in New York City represents a “bold step” towards a low-carbon alternative to concrete and steel. It aligns with the city’s ambitious climate goals and will contribute to the growth of the green economy. Design teams can submit projects for consideration, ranging from residential to industrial developments.

Selected teams will receive preliminary designs and plans that incorporate mass timber materials. They will also receive a life cycle assessment and a preliminary cost-benefit assessment for mass timber. Additionally, the teams will receive technical assistance and feedback from WoodWorks and the NYC Department of Buildings throughout the nine-month duration of the program, which is set to begin in 2024.

The MOCEJ acting executive director, Victoria Cerullo, stated that the Mass Timber Studio will not only help connect design teams and industry professionals with investment and technical assistance but will also stimulate industry growth. Moreover, it will provide valuable insights into how building codes and policies can support clean and sustainable construction.

New York City has recently introduced several programs aimed at reducing embodied carbon in construction, including the PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done, which is a long-term strategic climate plan for the city. Mass timber, an engineered wood material, has gained popularity as a cleaner, lighter, and more efficient alternative to traditional carbon-intensive building materials like concrete and steel.

In recent projects, mass timber has been utilized in Mexico’s largest mass-timber building by Dellekamp Schleich and a mass-timber pavilion installed at Rice University in Houston. The potential for mass timber in construction has been further explored in the Timber Revolution series by Dezeen, a renowned design and architecture media platform.

Overall, the launch of the New York City Mass Timber Studio signifies a significant step towards sustainable and environmentally friendly construction practices in New York City. The program will not only promote the benefits of mass timber but also provide crucial support and resources to design teams and industry professionals interested in utilizing this innovative building material.

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