State Rep. Steve Tharinger, foreground, and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer put their signature on a cross-laminated timber modular building being built on the Greywolf Elementary School campus. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

State Rep. Steve Tharinger, foreground, and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer put their signature on a cross-laminated timber modular building being built on the Greywolf Elementary School campus. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Construction begins on Greywolf modular buildings

By Erin Hawkins

Olympic Peninsula News Group

SEQUIM — State and local leaders hailed the beginning of construction of two modular buildings at Greywolf Elementary School this week, structures using cross-laminated timber that will house four new classrooms for kindergarten through third-grade students at the start of the 2017-18 school year.

On Monday, state Rep. Steve Tharinger, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and Sequim School District Superintendent Gary Neal gathered with community members to note the installation of new modular buildings using locally sourced cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels.

The modular buildings are part of a pilot project overseen by the state Department of Enterprise Services to address classroom sizes and pioneer the use of CLT in Washington state.

‘New opportunity’

Kilmer described the project as “a site of new opportunity.” He believes the use of CLT will reduce the district’s carbon footprint, create more jobs and help a more sustainable industry.

“It’s incredibly exciting to sit down in Olympia and put $5½ million into this project to build classrooms,” said Tharinger, chairman of the Capital Budget committee. “We invest in building, so it’s exciting to see an actual project as innovative as this is.”

In 2016, legislators appropriated $5.5 million for design and construction of 10 buildings in Sequim, Seattle, Mount Vernon, Wapato and Toppenish school districts as part of an effort to reduce class sizes in kindergarten through third grade.

CLT is a prefabricated, solid-engineered wood panel manufactured by fusing crisscrossing layers of wood. All the load-bearing walls in the classroom buildings will be constructed with CLT, according to a news release from Forterra.

The CLT panels used at Greywolf were created from Olympic Peninsula timber and manufactured in Oregon — one of the first projects in Washington state to use local wood, officials said.

The design-build team was led by Walsh Construction Co., with Mahlum Architects.

Donna Hudson, Greywolf Elementary principal, said it has been exciting for the school to see the modular buildings installed.

“It’s most exciting for us because it gives us some space to house kids,” she said. “For the kids themselves, it’s very common at recess to see kids lined up at the fence watching. They’re fascinated by it.”

Hudson said the school had 40 new students enroll last year. She expects the new buildings to help alleviate some of the crowding issues, as they will hold up to an estimated 100 students for four classrooms.

She said the installation process will take 12 weeks. The buildings are expected to be completed by June.

Neal said he is excited about the use of timber from local sources and seeing locals work on the project.

“More importantly, this is going to help us fit the needs of our population,” he said. “We’re overcrowded right now, and so this couldn’t have come at a better time for us.”

Neal added he is interested in seeing how this project plays out for the possibility of CLT being used to construct multiple-story elementary schools in the future.

“Rep. Tharinger is the one who really appropriated this money and came through with this,” Neal said.

Affordable housing?

Tharinger said CLT also might be applied to use in building affordable housing models in the future.

“Affordable housing is a huge issue for the state,” he said. “To be able to fit that challenge with cross-laminated timber, creating rural jobs and using renewable wood, is a good fit.”

Two of the areas the state has faced challenges in is housing and classrooms, and gaining the interest of wood industries, local designers and contractors in CLT is exciting, Tharinger said.

“Our job at the state is to try to promote those kinds of things, to try to spur the private sector to make the investments to help solve the problems we face as a state,” Tharinger said.

________

Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at ehawkins@sequimgazette.com.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer speaks at a groundbreaking event at Greywolf Elementary School in Carlsborg on Monday. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer speaks at a groundbreaking event at Greywolf Elementary School in Carlsborg on Monday. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Students at Greywolf Elementary School look on as construction begins in full on two modular buildings at their Carlsborg school Monday. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Students at Greywolf Elementary School look on as construction begins in full on two modular buildings at their Carlsborg school Monday. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Construction begins on Greywolf modular buildings
Celebrating the April 24 groundbreaking of two modular buildings using cross-laminated timber at Greywolf Elementary School are, from left, Paul Bialkowsky, Peninsula timber manager for Interfor; Sequim Schools Superintendent Gary Neal; U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer; state Rep. Steve Tharinger; and Joseph Mayo, an architect with Mahlum Architects of Seattle. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Celebrating the April 24 groundbreaking of two modular buildings using cross-laminated timber at Greywolf Elementary School are, from left, Paul Bialkowsky, Peninsula timber manager for Interfor; Sequim Schools Superintendent Gary Neal; U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer; state Rep. Steve Tharinger; and Joseph Mayo, an architect with Mahlum Architects of Seattle. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

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