CCA Recommends Mass Timber Structures for a Faster, More Affordable and More Sustainable Way to Build Housing

CCA Recommends Mass Timber Structures for a Faster, More Affordable and More Sustainable Way to Build Housing

Published Thursday, August 22, 2019

LOS ANGELES (August 22, 2019) -- Today, Central City Association (CCA) released a white paper on how mass timber construction can be a tool to address our state's housing crisis. Mass timber can be less costly, more efficient and more sustainable than other traditional construction methods such as concrete, steel and light timber. Mass timber buildings have recently garnered significant media attention and is becoming a popular construction material around the world for mixed-use developments, offices, hotels, campuses and museums. These buildings use solid or engineered wood, such as cross-laminated timber and mass plywood panels, for their primary load-bearing structure. Pieces of wood are glued or nailed together in layers, with the wood perpendicularly stacked to ensure strength. Read the white paper at ccala.org/masstimberwhitepaper.

Mass timber is important for Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) and other downtowns in the country since it could play a critical role in delivering buildings that are 12 to 18 stories, which are currently missing from DTLA's skyline. Due to cost efficiencies, light wood frame construction is typically limited to five stories and is usually on top of a few stories of podium parking, and concrete and steel construction for high-rise buildings is usually a minimum of 20 stories. Mass timber could fill this gap and create 12- to 18-story buildings that provide more housing units at a lower cost.

This white paper explores the many benefits of mass timber construction. These benefits are already being realized in other cities in the United States and internationally, and are outlined below:

  • They can be built on faster timelines, delivering much-needed housing more quickly.
  • Savings on materials, labor and construction schedule allow them to be built for a lower cost.
  • With responsible forest management and local production, mass timber can improve sustainability.
  • They can catalyze an entirely new market in the green economy, creating new jobs.
  • They provide a unique, warm aesthetic that sets them apart from other construction materials.

"At a time when our policymakers and communities are grappling with how to decrease the cost of housing, expeditiously house our homeless neighbors and reduce our carbon footprint, mass timber construction presents an innovative opportunity to tackle these challenges at once," said Jessica Lall, President & CEO of CCA. "It is a way to deliver much-needed housing faster while employing sustainable building practices and creating new jobs. We look forward to working with our partners at the LA Fire Department, Department of Building and Safety and Department of City Planning to address the barriers and implement the policy recommendations outlined in this white paper."

This white paper includes specific actions that our state, city government and local developers and architects can take to catalyze this new market and begin delivering jobs and mass timber housing. State and local funds, supplemented with local development incentives, can help support mass timber manufacturing and the construction of affordable housing. Building codes need to be updated to enable the use of mass timber as a viable construction material, and new partnerships are needed to develop construction training programs and new lending models.

"These policy recommendations promoting mass timber construction address CCA's top priorities and showcase our vision for the future of Downtown Los Angeles," said Tom Gilmore, CEO of Gilmore Associates and CCA Board Chair. "CCA's white papers are a way for the organization to strategically develop and disseminate research that supports our advocacy agenda."

This white paper on mass timber construction follows white papers released last year on micro-unit development and reforming Regional Housing Needs Assessments (RHNA). For more information on CCA white papers, see ccala.org/white-papers.


CCA will present the findings and policy recommendations in this white paper at a meeting this fall. Please email Tina Oh or Lily Rosenberg if you are interested in attending.

Tina Oh, Vice President of Public Affairs, 213-416-7521, toh@ccala.org
Lily Rosenberg, Communications Associate, 213-416-7535, lrosenberg@ccala.org