Michaela Harms

Michaela Harms


Sr. Director of Mass Timber, Sterling Solutions

Michaela Harms has co-written and managed nearly $3M in USDA grant funded research focused on mass timber construction and small-diameter utilization. She specializes in business development strategy, standards compliance and engineering within the forest products and sustainable construction sectors. Her prior experience includes leading the R&D/Strategy department for a structural round and heavy timber manufacturer, serving as the engineered wood products and sustainable forestry expert for an international certification body and managing algorithm and business development for construction life cycle assessment software. Her work has been published in Structures Magazine and in 2021 she presented to Wisconsin State Government officials, making the case for mass timber building code updates to support Wisconsin’s woodland economies. She currently serves as Senior Director of Mass Timber at Sterling Structural, a division of North America’s largest CLT manufacturer. Michaela holds a degree in Civil Engineering focused on Sustainable Building from Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki, Finland.

The need for new construction, including affordable housing to address social and economic needs, has not decreased. Yet, the need for an environmentally resilient commodity-building product that can compete in these building markets is becoming more urgent. In recent years, Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) has emerged as a leading-edge structural building product that combines the biophilic, carbon-sequestering, and renewable properties of wood with the strength of engineered construction technology, but the North American market has yet to fully embrace it due to perceived feasibility and supply chain barriers.

The key to making CLT affordable and accessible is in orienting mass timber building design towards standardization and repeatability while revisioning the way that domestic mass timber suppliers can streamline their product range and delivery to improve accessibility and economic inclusion for CLT. This presentation will educate architects and designers on design methodologies to best orient projects towards this outcome, as well as general contractors and mass timber fabricators on practices to provide crucial savings on cost and timeline to prevent CLT from being value-engineered out of projects in favor of less sustainable alternatives, and to move beyond market perceptions of exclusivity. Direct applications will be presented through two approaches and case studies for projects in Des Moines, Iowa, and Springdale, Arkansas.