CNL inaugurates new building made from Canadian-sourced wood as part of $1.2 billion revitalization initiative


By Mark Buckshon

Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) says it has demonstrated its commitment to mass wood timber construction by completing a new two-storey industrial-use complex to serve as the organization’s centralized maintenance and support facility.

“This is one of several new facilities at CNL that will use a new generation of mass timber products sourced from Canada as the main structural construction material,” CNL said in a statement on Monday.

The nuclear organization invited Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, to its Chalk River Laboratories campus to celebrate the federal government’s investment in wood construction. Lefebre visited the site on the 100th anniversary of National Forest Week, an annual event that encourages Canadians to learn more about the environmental benefits of wood as a renewable resource.

In constructing the new buildings, CNL received $3.96 million in financial support from Green Construction through Wood (GCWood), a program administered by Natural Resources Canada to increase the use of wood in infrastructure projects as a sustainable construction material.

The structure is part of what was announced in 2017 as a $1.2 billion 10-year strategy and vision for the Chalk River laboratories.

“On behalf of CNL, I’d like to thank Parliamentary Secretary Lefebvre for taking time out his busy schedule to visit the Chalk River campus to see this new modern and sustainable building up-close,” said CNL president and CEO Joe McBrearty. “We’re very proud to use wood as the main structural construction material for the new buildings, a renewable resource that reduces the carbon footprint of the Chalk River campus. The design also pays tribute to the rich logging and lumber heritage of the Ottawa Valley, something we also take pride in, particularly during National Forest Week.”

“The revitalization of the Chalk River Laboratories is key to helping us meet the challenges of tomorrow, including building a low-carbon future,” added Richard Sexton, president and CEO of AECL. “Using Canadian wood for our new facilities is part of our commitment to environmental stewardship. By building a sustainable, world-class nuclear science and technology campus, we are positioning ourselves to be at the forefront of science and innovation.”

The support facility is one of a number of new ‘enabling’ buildings that are being designed and constructed at the Chalk River campus using wood sourced from Canada, including the outer gate facility, a new building which will transform the site entry point at the Chalk River campus. The support facility features Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) for the elevator shaft, floors and roof panels, which are supported by Glulam timber purlins, beams and columns. Once complete, the building will use 880 cu. m. wood and have a net CO2 benefit of 964 metric tonnes.

The buildings are part of a 10-year capital program, funded through a $1.2 billion investment from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), that is designed to transform the Chalk River Laboratories through the revitalization of essential site infrastructure and a significant investment in new science facilities.

In addition to the new enabling buildings, CNL recently opened a brand new hydrogen laboratory complex, a new materials research laboratory, and a new tritium laboratory. Major investments have also been made into important infrastructure improvements, including new domestic water and natural gas service to the campus, a modern sanitary sewage treatment facility, and a system to more effectively manage storm water on the site.

“Our commitment to environmental stewardship goes beyond our clean energy research and environmental remediation activities,” explained Brian Savage, vice-president of CNL’s capital program. “The focus on using wood for new buildings at the Chalk River campus is proof of that commitment. We are also modernizing the site to further reduce our carbon footprint and ensure long-term sustainability.”


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