Built Environment Laboratory (BEL)

Non-recurring request:  $1.3 million

The Wood Utilization + Design Institute (WU+D) develops sustainable new wood products from South Carolina’s abundant forests. WU+D along with Clemson’s Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, School of Architecture, Department of Construction Science and Management, and Glenn Department of Civil Engineering have been assigned 12,000 square feet of space in an existing “High Bay” building near the Clemson campus. This facility allows WU+D programs an opportunity to create a collaborative research and instructional space for addressing the many challenges facing construction, operation and maintenance of South Carolina’s built environment.

WU+D’s goal is to increase the use of wood products in the state, thereby increasing the value of forests to the state’s 200,000+ forest landowners. South Carolina’s forest products industry has a $21 billion economic impact; increasing wood manufacturing and growing more trees can increase the impact significantly. Both are critical to the economic health of rural communities where most of the trees are grown, harvested and transported to manufacturing. South Carolina is blessed with abundant, sustainable forests to support this growth.

The Built Environment Lab (BEL) will focus on the design and construction needs of South Carolina’s expanding housing and construction industries. These needs fall into two overlapping categories: materials and structures. For materials, we will focus on improvements to existing building materials as well as developing new materials. WU+D also will investigate new and improved methods for working with these materials. With regard to structures, WU+D is designing and adapting structural systems to take advantage of these material developments. An important part in of WU+D’s success will be utilizing the “high bay” facility as collaborative implementation space. This space must be renovated into a well-designed and equipped facility for multi-disciplinary approaches to research, development, instruction and implementation. It also will support the state’s competitiveness in built environments and healthier forests and rural economies.

The BEL facility will be the hub for built environment undergraduate and graduate research on campus. Strong floor and wall, overhead crane system, and utilities and general construction all required to convert the building into a built environment laboratory is estimated to cost $1.3 million.