Taking a Chance on Mass Timber: New York Building Stores Energy

One of first schools on the East Coast to use CLT

Wed 05 Apr 23


In New York City, mass timber construction remains rare among developers.

However, according to Rebecca Baird-Remba of the Commercial Observer, Evergreen Charter School in Hempstead, Long Island, is taking an innovative approach by using a combination of timber, concrete, and steel to build its new campus, focusing on sustainability and energy efficiency.

About the School

The school, which serves 700 elementary and middle school students, is located approximately 10 km east of New York City and currently occupies a plain concrete building.

It shares this space with Círculo de la Hispanidad, a non-profit providing social services to the Latino community in Nassau County.

The second floor at Evergreen Charter School features an outdoor terrace with raised garden beds, where students can learn about plants and grow their own produce.
The second floor at Evergreen Charter School features an outdoor terrace with raised garden beds, where students can learn about plants and grow their own produce.
One of the first New York projects to use Cross Laminated Timber

The new campus will be one of the first East Coast schools using cross-laminated timber, a material most commonly found in Europe but increasingly finding a home in the North American and Australian markets.

As it stands there are only 70 CLT manufacturers worldwide however that number is expected to multiply as the mass timber market continues to grow.

The five-story building will cover around 8269 sq m, featuring a two-level gym, three floors of classrooms, two separate cafeterias, a roof deck with seating, and an outdoor terrace with raised garden beds. The structure will combine steel columns and beams with cross-laminated timber decks and a metal facade panelling system.

Energy efficiency will be achieved using a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heating and cooling system.

Mass Timber is an ideal solution for affordability construction

Architect Martin Hopp emphasizes that the project demonstrates that even low-income communities can afford mass timber construction.

The decision to create a hybrid structure was driven by the high costs of processing, cutting, and shipping the CLT pieces from Europe.

“One of the challenges we’ve seen with clients is that people don’t realise they can do mass timber, or they think only rich developers or Ivy League universities can do it.”

Martin Hopp, Director of Martin Hopp Architects

Carla Gallardo, a project manager at Consigli Construction who’s overseeing construction, said the project was challenging because it had a relatively tight schedule but required materials with very long lead times.

“We have to plan way ahead to make sure we’re meeting our deadline,” Gallardo said. “We have windows coming from South America that takes 52 weeks.”

She added that community involvement and planning in the design was important.

“Most of the are Hispanic, coming to the US with little or no resources,” she said.

“All of the resources the building can provide will help them have a better future than maybe their families had — teaching them how to cook and maintain a healthy diet.

“We’re working on creating job fairs where we invite the subcontractors to come out and invite the community to get a job with our subcontractors. We want to teach them about careers in construction, architecture and engineering – and wood is a massive part of that.”

  • With extracts from Rebecca Baird-Remba’s article in the Commercial Observer


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


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