By Annie Perkins, Senior Director, Green Building and Supply Chain


The momentum in late March felt palpable for mass timber when I joined over 3,000 people on the annual pilgrimage to Portland, Oregon, for the International Mass Timber Conference.

The buzz began even before visitors reached the convention when travelers arrived at the Portland airport, straining for a glimpse of the much-awaited mass timber renovation. Alas, views were reserved for those on tours only, as the opening is slated for later this year. Portland International is the first major U.S. airport to have a mass timber roof. Natural light will pour in between four hundred undulating 80-foot glued laminated timber (glulam) arches formed from Douglas fir to illuminate the concourse—a beacon leading our way to a bright future.

But there’s more: the $2 billion stunningly beautiful timber roof is a one-of-a-kind design that leverages locally sourced wood from sustainably managed forests. The biggest source of wood comes from the Yakama Nation, an SFI-certified organization located in central Washington.

Then came the conference itself, recognized last year as one of the 50 fastest-growing events in the United States. It’s the world’s largest mass-timber gathering, where thousands of enthusiasts from all over the world assemble to discuss plans and learn of trends. Many new and old friends visited our booth, where we talked about biodiversity, climate, and fire resilience–key components of SFI certification. Also important is knowing where that wood comes from.

From coast to coast, positive news about mass timber keeps coming. Sterling Structural, the largest cross-laminated timber (CLT) manufacturer in North America, recently announced certification to the SFI Certified Sourcing Standard for its southern yellow pine CLT. Sterling will supply this wood to affordable housing projects in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan, among other projects.

Locally sourced mass timber, similar to the farm-to-table movement, is a growing trend among building owners and developers. Jamestown, a real estate investment and management firm, manages timber in five states: Alabama, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Jamestown certifies its forests under the SFI Forest Management Standard, which promotes practices to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and species at risk across these forests.

Jamestown will soon open the first locally-grown mass timber building in the U.S. Southeast: a four-story retail and office project at 619 Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta. The project is home-grown from forest to finished building; Georgia-Pacific custom cut local logs into lumber at its nearby mill and shipped them over to SmartLam, whose Alabama facility (certified to the SFI Chain-of-Custody Standard) pressed them into CLT panels and sent them a mere 200 miles to the job site.

Hear firsthand about Jamestown’s ambitious 619 Ponce project at the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s annual conference in Atlanta on June 4-7, 2024. I  look forward to moderating a panel discussion on this impressive project as well as advancements in specifying mass timber certified to the SFI standards in new market segments. Panelists include Troy Harris, Managing Director of Timberland and Innovative Wood Products at Jamestown; Nick Milestone, Vice President, Projects and Construction at Mercer Mass Timber; and Andres Villegas, President and CEO of the Georgia Forestry Association.

Communities everywhere are grappling with climate change and are seeking more sustainable solutions. The built environment is responsible for nearly 40% of global carbon emissions, which also represents a huge opportunity! Mass timber is one solution in a suite of efforts to lower this number. Join us in June at the SFI Annual Conference, where hundreds of professionals will look at ways to nurture our forests and use their bounty for a sustainable future. I can’t wait to see you there!


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