The City of New York (the “City”) 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.
As part of the City’s decarbonization efforts, New York City Economic Development Corporation ("NYCEDC") is launching the New York City Mass Timber Studio (the “NYC Mass Timber Studio”), a technical assistance program to support active mass timber development projects in the early phases of project planning and design.
The NYC Mass Timber Studio is currently seeking applications for design teams to conduct early design-phase mass timber technical and financial feasibility assessments to propel projects towards development.
By the Numbers
of annual global CO2 emissions come from the built environment, including 13% from materials and construction.
Building to Net Zero with Mass Timber
Expanding the use of mass timber, building materials composed of engineered wood products, is a critical component to achieving the City’s carbon reduction targets, including reducing embodied carbon emissions (those locked in place as soon as a building is constructed) for new buildings, infrastructure, and major retrofits by 50 percent (PlaNYC 2023). 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.
Goals of the NYC Mass Timber Studio
The NYC Mass Timber Studio will broaden awareness, identify new opportunities, and accelerate the use of mass timber practices in New York City, with the following goals:
- Raise public awareness of the carbon and economic benefits and beauty 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
Broader awareness of the benefits and practices of mass timber construction will in turn result in more buildings constructed with mass timber materials. New demand can enable harvesters, fabricators, suppliers, and providers to expand their existing businesses, and create new local and regional business and job opportunities.
The NYC Mass Timber Studio will be operated by NYCEDC and the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) Forest Service and the Softwood Lumber Board, with technical assistance provided by Wood Products Council ("WoodWorks"), and advisory feedback from the NYC Department of Buildings and the American Institute of Architects New York (“AIANY”).
The Opportunity: Request for Applications
The NYC Mass Timber Studio has issued a Request for Applications to identify applicants and select design teams involved in conducting early design-phase mass timber technical and financial feasibility assessments.
The NYC Mass Timber Studio will enable selected teams to explore and fully consider the environmental, economic, and structural benefits of mass timber building materials and practices—all in a structure that will engage local stakeholders and provide multiple visibility platforms for best practice discussions, product presentations, study reports, and summary findings.
The NYC Mass Timber Studio is funded in part by the USDA Forest Service Wood Innovations Program with contributions by NYCEDC and the Softwood Lumber Board. Grants of approximately $25,000 will be awarded to selected teams to support project-specific mass timber analysis and design work.
The NYC Mass Timber Studio activities are anticipated to begin in 2024 and run for a duration of approximately nine (9) months, during which design teams will regularly meet with Woodworks and the Department of Buildings for technical assistance and advisory feedback. Awarded design teams will commit to participating in the NYC Mass Timber Studio mid- and final reviews, during which the teams will publicly share progress and lessons learned. NYC Mass Timber Studio deliverables include:
- Preliminary building designs and plans integrating mass timber materials
- Life cycle assessment of embodied carbon comparing conventional and mass timber construction materials and practices
- Preliminary cost benefit assessment for mass timber (time, material, and labor)
- Brief project summary report with analysis and findings on opportunities for mass timber adoption
- Operational plan on next steps to integrate timber into the final design
To be eligible to enter, the applicant must be an architecture, engineering, or development organization registered in the United States and authorized to do business in New York State, with an active commissioned project that meets grant application requirements.
An eligible project must be one of the following building typologies:
- Commercial development
- Institutional development (cultural, educational, recreational)
- Residential development (multifamily affordable and market rate housing)
- Infrastructure development
- Industrial development
Applications must be for a single project located in New York City. Projects may consist of more than one building but should identify a prototypical building as the focus of the NYC Mass Timber Studio program. Design teams may submit more than one project, but each project must be submitted as an individual application. It is understood that individual professionals and firms may participate on more than one design team.
Applications are to be submitted as a single, PDF formatted, searchable document and labeled “[PRIME BUSINESS NAME]_NYC Mass Timber Studio RFA”. Application focus and brevity will enable the Selection Committee to best understand and appreciate the merits of each proposal. Please provide all the following information in your application:
Applicant Contact Information
- Provide the personal name, phone number, email address for the principal team contact. All application and selection process communications will be with the Applicant Contact.
- Provide firm name, website, and address
- Provide firm organization type and organizational structure (e.g. 501(c)(3), corporation, partnership)
Project Name and Location
- Projects must be located within the five boroughs of New York City
Project Planning and Permitting Status
- Provide project schedule (project phase and timeline) and status of permit and other design approvals (PDC, LPC), if applicable
- Provide project cost estimates and a schedule of expenses
- Provide the firm name and lead representative for the primary design team; including from the following disciplines: developer, architect, structural engineer, construction manager, and/or general contractor and any important specialty consultants relevant to the success of the project (e.g. fire, Life Cycle Assessment, acoustics)
- Provide a brief description of the project team's expertise and experience. Design teams without experience or expertise with mass timber construction are eligible to apply. Please include historical M/W/DBE utilization relative to previous projects referenced in project team’s experience if any.
- Describe the diversity and equity efforts of your organization and how they have been implemented at the design team level.
- Include any certificates held by project team including but not limited to minority and/or women owned business certification.
- Building owner, program and uses
- Building characteristics including area (sf) and height (stories and feet)
- Development illustrations including at minimum 1 site plan, 4-5 building plans, elevations, elevations, sections and/or diagrams to best demonstrate project eligibility
- Sustainability goals including LEED, carbon neutrality, resiliency, and indoor environmental health
Statement of Interest and Commitment to building with Mass Timber
- Provide a brief explanation of the design team’s motivation for applying to the NYC Mass Timber Studio program and intent to design with mass timber. Submitted projects should identify potential for innovative adoption of mass timber design and construction.
To assess and accelerate practice and market adoption, NYC Mass Timber Studio grants will be awarded on a competitive basis with a goal of selecting new development projects representing a range of building uses, affordability, scales, and heights and based on the potential for successful integration of low carbon mass timber building materials and practices into the proposed project.
Planning and Permitting Status
Applicant projects should be in the early stages of design and development with the capacity and sufficient project planning time to actively participate in the NYC Mass Timber Studio program, fulfill NYC Mass Timber Studio program requirements (including fully assessing mass timber building solutions), and have the potential to implement mass timber building practices. Preference will be given to projects nearing or within the early stage of permitting, and/or demonstrate potential to accelerate broader adoption of mass timber in new innovative applications.
Priority Building Uses, Typologies, and Heights
- Commercial – large office
- Institutional – including but not limited to, community spaces, education centers, libraries
- Science / Technology (including labs)
- Residential – large multifamily affordable and market rate housing
- Residential – medium multifamily affordable and market rate housing
- Six to seven stories (no podium / non-high rise building code)
- Infrastructure – bridges & public walkways
- Industrial – warehouses & distribution centers
Sustainability and Resiliency
- Mass timber construction is a critical emerging practice for reducing building construction material carbon emissions. Applicant projects should have an overarching commitment and approach to sustainable development and to reducing carbon emissions.
Commitment to Equity
- Applicants should demonstrate commitment to diversity and equity and the development of a mass timber project that benefits underserved New Yorkers.
Implementation of Mass Timber Practices
- Applicant projects should have strong potential for implementing mass timber construction practices.
Grant Application Dates
Submission Period Begins: September 20, 2023
Information Session: October 11, 2023
Question Submission Deadline: October 20, 2023
Q&A Document Posting: October 27, 2023
Submission Period Ends: November 8, 2023
Design teams must upload their formatted PDF document to complete the submission before November 8, 2023, at 11:59 pm ET. Submissions started by the user but not finished before this deadline will not be accepted. Alternate methods of submission (e.g., email) will not be accepted.
NYCEDC and program partners conducted a live webinar on October 11, 2023, at 12:00 pm ET to answer questions from design teams that have entered or are considering entry.
All questions should be submitted by email to [email protected].