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Press Release

NYCEDC Launches New York City Mass Timber Studio

Sep 20 2023
Engineered wood building structure

NYC Aims to be a National Leader in Using Innovative Building Materials, Particularly Mass Timber

Expanding Use of Mass Timber will Help NYC Achieve Nation-Leading Carbon Reduction Targets

Grants of $25,000 Will Be Awarded to Selected Teams to Support Project Specific Mass Timber Analysis and Design

BROOKLYN, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the launch of the New York City Mass Timber Studio, a technical assistance program to support active mass timber development projects in the early phases of project planning and design. Mass Timber is composed of engineered wood products, a sustainable building material with a low carbon footprint. The Studio is currently accepting applications for design teams to support project specific mass timber analysis and design work. Grants of $25,000 will be awarded to selected teams to conduct design, technical and economic feasibility assessments for mass timber.

The Studio will be operated by NYCEDC and the Mayor’s Office for Climate and Environmental Justice (MOCEJ) in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service and the Softwood Lumber Board, with technical assistance provided by WoodWorks, and advisory support from the American Institute of Architects New York (AIA) and the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). 

“As a low-carbon alternative to concrete and steel, the deployment of mass timber construction in New York City will be another bold step to drive the green economy while meeting the City’s ambitious climate goals,” said NYCEDC President & CEO Andrew Kimball. “We look forward to working alongside our agency and industry partners on the NYC Mass Timber Studio to move us one step closer to seeing mass timber buildings come out of the ground.” 

“The Mass Timber Studio will help connect design teams and industry professionals with investment and technical assistance, will spur industry growth, and teach us lessons about how building code and policy can support clean, sustainable construction,” said Victoria Cerullo, Acting Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice. “This program advances our PlaNYC goal of reducing the carbon footprint of the construction industry by 50% by 2033 and we are proud to support the architects, designers and engineers who are working at the forefront of this crucial new sector.” 

“When DOB made changes to the City’s timber construction regulations during our most recent Code revision cycle, we elevated sustainable construction materials by opening the door for cross-laminated timber and other mass timber building projects throughout the five boroughs,” said New York City Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo. “With the opening of the New York City Mass Timber Studio, our partners at EDC and MOCEJ are now ushering the construction industry through that open door, providing needed support so that more eco-friendly timber projects can go from lines on paper to shovels in the ground.” 

“We value the opportunity to partner with the City of New York on the Mass Timber Studio project,” said Forest Service Deputy Chief Jaelith Hall-Rivera. “Mass timber used in new building construction results in a reduction in embodied carbon, supports economic opportunity by providing wood product markets, and contributes to ability reduce wildfire risk through healthy sustainable forest management.” 

“We are excited to partner with NYC’s Economic Development Corporation to support this innovative program, which will highlight the benefits mass timber and wood construction can bring to the built environment and be a catalyst for reimagining how New York City can achieve its laudable goals for a more sustainable future,” said Cees de Jager, President and CEO of the Softwood Lumber Board. “Mass timber provides a market differentiating aesthetic while offering biophilic benefits, delivering a low-carbon structural solution, and realizing tighter construction timelines. We look forward to seeing the creative solutions New York’s design community will develop using this climate friendly material and how those projects will positively impact their city and the world beyond.” 

"Wood building products are an integral part of the solution for a more sustainable built environment, and the potential impact of a mass timber accelerator program in New York City can't be understated. Our mission at WoodWorks is to assist project teams in designing and constructing code-compliant wood buildings, and we're thrilled to be able to amplify that by supporting the NYC Mass Timber Studio and its participants." said Jennifer Cover, WoodWorks President & CEO. 

“AIA New York is excited to partner with NYCEDC to announce a climate innovation program to further explore mass timber,” said Jesse Lazar, Executive Director, American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY). “Mass timber construction and other innovation with sustainable building materials are important steps towards meeting New York City’s climate goals and reducing carbon emissions. AIANY looks forward to continuing to raise public awareness of the benefits of mass timber construction to increase energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources.” 

"Timber is a regenerative, low-carbon material, and plays a critical role in reaching the sustainability goals for all our work," said Julia Murphy, Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. "We are utilizing mass timber in many of our projects––including the upcoming New York Climate Exchange and the recently completed High Line - Moynihan Connector––and look forward to continuing to build momentum around this climate friendly material through this partnership with the Trust for Governors Island and the City of New York."

“New York City is leading the nation in developing the innovative solutions to ensure that our cities are able to adapt and thrive in response to climate change,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “We’re thrilled to see NYCEDC support the expansion of the use of mass timber throughout the five boroughs, and look forward to sharing lessons learned as the city’s first commercial buildings using mass timber at the New York Climate Exchange come to life here on Governors Island.” 

The goals of the NYC Mass Timber Studio include: 

  • Raise public awareness of the carbon and economic benefits of mass timber construction.
  • Connect design teams and City actors interested in advancing use of mass timber.
  • Introduce more practitioners to the details and feasibility of mass timber construction.
  • Identify development opportunities resulting in new building and infrastructure projects in New York City constructed with mass timber.
  • Identify the potential for new business and job creation through the expansion of mass timber construction.

Studio activities are anticipated to begin in 2024 and run for a duration of approximately nine months, during which design teams will regularly meet with Woodworks and the Department of Buildings for technical assistance and advisory support. 

The City of New York plays a powerful role in paving the way to decarbonize the built environment and scale the clean construction industry by enabling innovative solutions, facilitating bold policies, and operating pilot programs to overcome implementation challenges in tangible ways.

In fall 2022, Mayor Eric Adams signed Clean Construction Executive Order 23 which requires the City’s capital project agencies to commit to actions that will lower embodied carbon from municipal construction projects.

In April 2023, Mayor Adams’ released "PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done," New York City's Strategic Climate Plan. PlaNYC reinforces New York City’s leading efforts in clean construction by requiring the city’s capital project agencies to commit to actions that will lower embodied carbon — greenhouse gas emissions arising from the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of building materials. The NYC Mass Timber Studio builds off PlaNYC by expanding the use of mass timber, building materials composed of engineered wood products, including reducing embodied carbon emissions for new buildings, infrastructure, and major retrofits. 

Mayor Adams, along with the Trust for Governors Island and Stony Brook University unveiled the “New York Climate Exchange,” in April 2023, a transformative vision for a first-in-the-nation climate research, education, and jobs hub on Governors Island that will create thousands of permanent jobs and $1 billion in economic impact for the city. The campus will serve as a living laboratory, showcasing innovative approaches to sustainable and resilient design, including, New York City’s first commercial buildings utilizing mass timber. 

Under Mayor Adams’ leadership, New York City has already become a national leader in sustainability and green infrastructure, with the city committed to 100-percent clean electricity by 2040 and carbon neutrality by 2050. 

This crucial sector hosts over 150,000 jobs in New York City, growing 21 percent since 2016. The Green Economy in New York is expected to grow by 8 percent annually through 2030 and its gross city product is expected to grow 144% percent to $61 billion by 2030, a reflection of ramped up attention on decarbonization and resilience efforts city and statewide.

The studio is currently seeking applications for design teams to conduct early design-phase mass timber technical and financial feasibility assessments studies. Selected teams will receive grant funding to participate in the program.

Click here for more information on how to apply.

About NYCEDC  
New York City Economic Development Corporation is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that works for a vibrant, inclusive, and globally competitive economy for all New Yorkers. We take a comprehensive approach, through four main strategies: strengthen confidence in NYC as a great place to do business; grow innovative sectors with a focus on equity; build neighborhoods as places to live, learn, work, and play; and deliver sustainable infrastructure for communities and the city's future economy. To learn more about what we do, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.