Timber framers are prone to becoming misty eyed when they talk of “authentic details” or a “centuries old craft tradition”. While tradition has a role in passing on important knowledge, it should never keep one from embracing new techniques, advanced tools and innovative materials.
At Cornerstone, we’ve renewed our commitment to change and innovation. In 2016, we began working with laminated timbers. In 2018, we added a CNC joinery machine to complement our existing hand cut work; that same year cross-laminated timber panels were added to our product offering.
Our company and the future of construction will be transformed by the acceptance of “mass timber” as the answer to a more sustainable built environment.
These are exciting times, especially if you’re open to progressive change and opportunity!
Tanya Bachmeier, CEO
Tanya grew up in a family involved in almost every aspect of construction. In 2000, she graduated and went straight to work, helping her father and uncle by running Cornerstone’s office. In her early years, she handled bookkeeping and gained mastery of 3D design software. As customers asked how they should best protect their timbers, Tanya started by providing advice, but soon found herself staining client frames in the shop after hours. And she hasn’t looked back, now managing a team of six who apply quality finishes to every client project. Tanya and husband Nevin, purchased Cornerstone in 2015. They have two young children.
- Plays hockey for fun and fitness
- Enjoys splitting wood for her home’s fireplace
- Always has a furniture or finishing project on the go
Nevin Bachmeier, VP Operations
Nevin grew up on a family farm near New Bothwell, Manitoba. After finishing his Ag diploma he took the courageous step of starting his own farm, focusing on specialty grasses and grain. Important lessons in perseverance and problem-solving were gained through long hours, challenging weather and equipment breakdowns. When Cornerstone’s rapid growth required new ways of doing business, Nevin stepped into the role of VP Operations. In the years since he has directed a wholesale change in how Cornerstone uses technology and organizes its workflows.
- Sport fishing is Nevin’s favourite way to de-stress
- Enjoys golfing and league-play
- Always interested and abreast of business and technology news
Michael Pankratz, Design Lead
Michael grew up in Winnipeg and studied Architecture at the University of Manitoba. Following university, he gained valuable insight into the construction industry spending two years on both commercial and residential job sites that have helped aid his overall knowledge of what helps projects progress smoothly and how to problem-solve. If asked, Michael would say the favourite part of his job is creating meaningful relationships with clients and helping them bring their visions to life. Since joining Cornerstone in 2015, he has helped hundreds of clients complete projects big and small with custom timber designs and visualizations.
- Enjoys long summer days in the yard planting trees and working on projects
- Saturday morning isn’t quite right without a book and a coffee in hand
- Plays volleyball and basketball recreationally and could talk to you about the Toronto Raptors unendingly
Gary Snider, Client Support/Estimating
Gary’s first contact with Cornerstone was as a client. The Steinbach windmill was destroyed by fire in 2001 and Gary’s museum board tasked him with rebuilding it within a year. With Cornerstone’s help, the new windmill’s complex frame and cap was standing again, just nine months after the fire.
Looking for something new after his museum stint, and having a background in business, history and project management Gary helped Cornerstone pursue market opportunities in the US and western Canada. Today he supports clients with ideas and estimates as they consider the many options available in their timber frame designs.
- An avid year-round cyclist and bike commuter
- Enjoys wild places and the hiking trails that reach them
- Will gladly chat you up about science, history, cats, and DIY fixes
What is Mass Timber?
Mass timber is the use of glue laminating methods to extend the span and capacity of timber. The key innovation is a multilayer wood panel with each successive layer running crossways to the one before. These are called Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels. High strength adhesives and machine stress rated (MSR) lumber makes a CLT panel effective as a floor, wall or roof assembly. In combination with glued-laminated timber columns and beams designers can minimize the use of concrete and steel in the construction of low and medium rise buildings.
What are the "Green Credentials" of Mass Timber?
Every cubic meter of mass timber in a project will lock away a metric tonne of carbon dioxide. Concrete and steel are carbon intensive, producing between .47 and .60 tonnes of CO2 for every tonne made. It’s been estimated that using mass timber for new mid-rise buildings being built in North America would be equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road for a year.
On the building site the green benefits continue to add up. Construction is 25% faster than pre-cast or steel and site traffic is reduced by more than 75%. Work sites are quiet and clutter-free with dramatically less waste than a conventional building site.
Is Mass Timber Safe?
Mass timber meets or exceeds the existing fire codes in jurisdictions throughout North America and Europe. Fire tests show the integrity of laminated columns, beams and panels is not compromised by intense, unmitigated fire conditions. During a fire the outer layer of wood turns to char and this in turn insulates and protects the underlying layers. Structural capacity is maintained, even after two hours of sustained fire.
How do the economics of Mass Timber compare to concrete or steel?
Mass timber is cost-efficient, comparing favorably with steel and concrete. It brings multiple benefits: elements arrive on site ready to install, timber is 5x lighter than concrete requiring less foundation mass, it assembles rapidly reducing timelines - turning capital costs into revenue streams, and it creates spaces that demand higher market values. As mass timber gains wider acceptance and supply chains are expanded it is estimated that mass timber will be as much as 20% less expensive than its alternatives.
Will our forests suffer if Mass Timber construction becomes popular?
Mass timber companies must play a positive role in managing the cycle of harvesting, re-planting and forest renewal. Nordic Structures manages its own forest lands (via Nordic Foresterie) and is committed to surpassing the best practices advocated by government agencies. It welcomes the oversight of environmental groups and works closely with local Cree communities to ensure that harvesting remains well within the capacity of the forest ecosystem. Mass timber, created responsibly, will nourish and not deplete our forests.