A tractor lifts a bunch of logs, ready for conversion into lumber.Katerra is breaking ground on a new plant in Spokane Valley that will soon be turning out cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glulam, materials that can be used to replace concrete and steel in high-rise buildings.

The 250,000 square foot factory will eventually employ more than 150 people. Cross-laminated timber uses scrap wood and other materials to make the cross-laminated timber. CLT is lightweight but very strong, since the panels are constructed of several layers of kiln-dried boards stacked in alternating patterns to provide strength while maintaining flexibility.

Since cross-laminated structures can be pre-fabricated off-site, the construction of cross-laminated timber buildings reduces on-site waste materials. It performs better than concrete or steel in fires or earthquakes. Best of all, CLT can be made from small-diameter trees which need to be removed from Eastern Washington forests to reduce the intensity of wildfires.

Read more about the new factory and cross-laminated timber in The Spokesman Review.