Mass Timber Housing

Rebuilding fire-devastated communities with Mass Timber for a stronger, more resilient future
Fire Hardened Homes and Forests (1)

The Problem

Over the past 20 years, 63% of the Plumas County has burned in wildfires. In August of 2021, the Dixie Fire swept through Indian Valley, decimating the towns of Greenville and Indian Falls along with Canyon Dam and the Warner Valley community amongst others.

As wildfires intensify and threaten rural areas, how should we rebuild communities to better withstand fire events?

Our Strategy

The Sierra Institute partnered with Steve Marshall of Mass Timber Strategy and renowned Seattle-based architects, atelierjones, to envision a new way of building homes in the region using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).

Why CLT?

CLT is a mass timber product known for its fire resistance and structural robustness - ideal for a region that faces both wildfire and seismic activity. Additionally, CLT can use forest restoration byproducts, promoting thinning for increased wildfire resilience. Because CLT is a prefabricated panelized product, structures can be erected in a matter of days. CLT’s inherent thickness behaves similarly to the charring of a thick tree exposed to fire; the exterior of the tree chars, slowing and eventually stopping combustion, while the interior remains intact. To further increase CLT’s natural fire resistant properties, additional fire-resistant layers cover the wall and roof assemblies. The addition of mineral wool insulation and non-combustible metal siding on the exterior of the CLT panel creates a protective barrier to mitigate the potential of fire reaching the wood. The result is a fire-hardened building prepared to better withstand an extreme fire event.

(For more information on CLT, visit Think Wood)

Greenville Structures Before and After Dixie Fire


Pre-approved House Plans

To address immediate community needs, and with support from public donations to Sierra Institute's Indian Valley Strong program, Sierra Institute contracted with atelierjones to design one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom CLT housing options for rebuilds. These homes are designed to Passive House standards to create energy efficient homes that can withstand extreme fluctuations in weather and climate without burdening the homeowner with expensive utility bills. Finishes such as lighting, cabinetry, and fixtures are included in the design package; this is a turn-key house with minimal effort needed on the homeowner's part. Sierra Institute is currently working with community members who lost their homes in the Dixie Fire and want to rebuild with CLT construction.

All three home designs have been pre-approved by Plumas County for an expedited permit process with models to be completed in May 2023. If you are interested in rebuilding with one of these home designs, we are happy to help you through the process and facilitate obtaining a building permit. Please fill out the form below for more information.

1 Bedroom Floor Plan

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2 Bedroom Floor Plan

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3 Bedroom Floor Plan

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Thank you to Lights Creek Construction, Harriott Valentine Engineers, DR Johnson, Method Homes, Sugarpine Engineering, and Bastian Engineering for making these efforts possible!