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Durango company receives housing incentive grant to build 66 affordable homes

Timber Age Systems gets up to $680,000 for cross-laminated timber projects
A 3-inch thick cross-laminated timber panel produced by Timber Age Systems, which received a grant of up to $680,000 last month to produce 66 affordable housing units. The grant was awarded by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. (Courtesy of Timber Age Systems)

Durango company Timber Age Systems received an Innovative Housing Incentive Program grant of up to $680,000 for the construction of 60 housing units.

The company utilizes ponderosa pine wood to create energy-efficient cross-laminated timber structures. The wood comes from wildfire mitigation efforts and would otherwise be left in slash piles for eventual burning.

The grant was awarded to Timber Age Systems by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). The company was one of three Colorado companies that received the grant, the others being Phoenix Haus in Grand Junction and Huron Components in Littleton, according to a news release by the economic and international trade office.

In a written statement, Gov. Jared Polis said, “I am proud to highlight innovative companies like Timber Age Systems, who share our goal of strategically increasing affordable housing options across Colorado.

“Timber Age Systems' use of timber responsibly removed from wildfire-prone areas benefits the environment and allows them to build entry-level homes starting as low as $300,000,” he said. “Creating more ways to increase the housing supply is crucial to ensure Coloradans can live close to their jobs, schools, the places they love, or where they grew up.”

Eve Lieberman, executive director of the Colorado OEDIT, said good-paying jobs and housing for every income level are needed for a strong economy, which is why the economic development and international trade office is supporting innovative housing manufacturers such as Timber Age Systems.

Timber Age Systems in Durango produces cross-laminated timber housing units that are installed locally as well as shipped to destinations across the country. The company has a manufacturing facility near Ignacio but is looking to move into a larger space next year to accommodate its growth. (Courtesy of Timber Age Systems)

“The Innovative Housing Incentive Program is introducing new housing units into the market and creating stable, year-round, high-quality jobs in Colorado,” Lieberman said.

OEDIT senior program manager Jack Tiebout, who oversees the IHIP grant program, said using timber from fire-prone areas contributes to wildfire mitigation, reduces carbon emissions and increases housing options.

“We’re pleased to support an innovative housing manufacturer that is helping to advance this new industry that has the potential to contribute to the state’s climate action goals, lower construction costs and create stable new jobs,” he said.

Building affordable homes to keep community thriving

Chris Hamm, vice president of building systems and engineering at Timber Age Systems, said the grant can be utilized in two ways: it allows recipients to reimburse 20% of their monthly operating costs, and it provides a rebate up to $6,000 for affordable housing or energy efficient units produced.

Virtually everything Timber Age Systems produces is energy efficient, he said. It builds with 3-inch thick cross-laminated timber to reduce heat flow through walls, and structures are about 10 times more airtight than typical homes. The final products are far above minimum housing codes.

Timber Age Systems’ director of customer experience Conner Dessel said the company is focusing on sourcing local materials and building locally, but it also ships energy-efficient homes to destinations all around the country.

One home being built in the company’s manufacturing facility north of Ignacio will be shipped to New York. Timber Age Systems is also partnering with the Sierra Institute in California to design homes for people who lost their homes to wildfires.

“They had this program that they worked on out there for the town of Greenville that burned to the ground,” he said. “The county is essentially accepting designs they would keep in their files as preapproved so that someone coming in getting funding to rebuild their home can just go and pick one of those designs.”

He said the program is useful because rebuilding with preapproved designs gets people new homes faster.

The company is using a business model that calls for localized manufacturing facilities sized for the communities they are stationed in.

“Our mission is to elevate communities using innovative materials and methods that change the way we design and build,” Dessel said.

Locally sourced ponderosa pine is key to Timber Age Systems’ operation, he said.

“Our forests are unhealthy. They’re way overpopulated with trees. And they are much more prone to wildfire because of it,” he said. “So there’s millions and millions of feet of wood that the forest service has prescribed (for burning in the San Juan National Forest) over the next 10 years. And it’s got nowhere to go. No one’s really using it for anything other than burning it.”

He said Timber Age Systems is trying to serve communities struggling with expensive housing. He relayed a story often told by founder and CEO Kyle Hanson about how his two daughters, aged three years apart, have different experiences with teachers in school.

“If his oldest daughter had a teacher that was just amazing – she really loved the teacher, the teacher was great at what they did – almost always, that teacher was gone by the time his younger daughter got there,” Dessel said.

He said people can’t afford to stay in Durango. And when people can’t stay, they aren’t invested in the city and the whole community suffers for it.

Timber Age Systems’ cross-laminated timber production facility has a footprint of about 900 square feet, an assembly area of 1,000 square feet and a sawmill of another 1,000 square feet. But the company has outgrown its space and is looking to expand next year, Dessel said.


A previous version of this story misstated the rebate amount Timber Age Systems could receive for each affordable housing unit produced - rebates are up to $6,000. And, Timber Age Systems was incorrectly identified.

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