LSU’s Todd Shupe Explores Expanded Application Of Timber In High-Rise Construction

todd shupe lsu

No matter the industry or specialized task, it will always be someone’s job to ensure that cutting-edge developments pass every conceivable test before becoming publicly-available. While with LSU, it was up to Todd Shupe and his wood product testing lab to ensure that developments in the wood sciences sector met certain important standards before going to market. Given his immersion in the industry and his existing consulting wood science business, continued updates when it comes to practical uses of specially-treated wood still grabs his attention.

According to a November 2017 article from The Architect’s Newspaper, the applications of cross-laminated timber (CLT) could be expanding significantly in the coming years. The article states that CLT could eventually be used in mid-rise buildings as it grows from applications that are more commonly close to the ground, such as your typical residential two-story home. The article goes on to state that increased usage of CLT for new construction projects will be heavily based on the amount of work industry experts put into analyzing current construction codes. “With CLT, everything rotates like a rigid body under seismic stresses,” John van de Lindt, of Colorado State University, told  The Architect’s Newspaper. “Panels do not deform enough to dissipate energy and suck load right into them,” he added.

The construction of CLT requires the cutting of timber, accurate layout, adhesive application and then pressing the final product together. For Todd Shupe, LSU’s former quality manager of an EPAISO 17025-approval testing lab, it’s the adhesive aspect that has him the most interested. That’s because he and a team of four scientists would perform bond integrity tests on new or existing wood-based products. According to the article, the use of adhesives sometimes includes either melamine urea-formaldehyde resins or polyurethane; the former can hardened when exposed to heat while the latter will soften. Short of a structure fire, the way that builders know of this behavior is through the testing that Todd Shupe and company did at LSU.

During his 20-year research-and-development career, Shupe took much time to learn about the practical applications of wood science and the effects that some chemicals used during processing can have on the environment. It’s one of the reasons why he took further steps to learn about lean manufacturing, development of metal-free wood preservatives and ways to keep such items from ending up in landfills. Backing up his knowledge of the subject – and sincere interest in seeing Earth-friendly alternatives developed – include his bachelor’s degree in forestry, master’s degree in wood science and Ph.D. in wood science.

Todd Shupe On Anxiety, Waiting: Have Faith, For ‘God Is Our Partner’

todd shupe lsuWaiting is a daily occurrence: We wait in line at the grocery store, post office or on the phone. Sometimes, we are waiting long-term for news regarding a loved one who has suddenly become ill or was in an accident. Waiting is also a part of joyous occasions such as the birth of a child or marriage. In any case, worrying almost always leads to anxiety. Todd Shupe, former LSU wood sciences professor, lab director and Christian ministry volunteer, has five favorite scriptures that he refers to in times of waiting.

1) In Isaiah 40:31, it says: “…but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

According to Todd Shupe — whose leadership roles at LSU and Christian groups such as Gulf Men South and Iron Sharpens Iron — we follow God and he doesn’t follow us. The Lord is promising us His stamina if we have faith in Him. Our faith is demonstrated by maintaining our faith while waiting and knowing that he will act.

2) In Psalm 46:10, He says: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

“This is calming scripture in times of worry,” says former LSU professor Todd Shupe, who adds that the above passage has been his “’go-to’ verse in times of uncertainty.” Moreover, he encourages you to meditate on each word of “Be still, and know that I am God” and the peace that surpasses all understanding shall be yours.

3) Matthew 6:26-27 reads: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”
Our God loves us more than we can begin to comprehend. God will provide His daily bread to us all.

4) In Philippians 4:6-7,it states: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Once we have prayed and given our worries to God, we are freeing ourselves from the chains of anxiety. God will take our worry and replace it with a peace that cannot be described with mere human words, according to Todd Shupe.

5) In Matthew 11:28-30, it reads: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

God is our partner and once we accept His yoke and let Him work in tandem with us, we can accomplish so much more, says former wood science professor and LSU lab director Todd Shupe.

“When a friend helps you through a difficult period, he or she is acting as the body of Christ and providing His yoke to you. In turn you will hopefully pass the yoke on to somebody else when they are in need,” Shupe says.

In summary, remember that you are loved by God and He wants you to come to him in prayer and unburden yourself of worry and fear. You are far more valuable than the birds in the air and the lilies in the field. In fact, you are a child of the risen Christ.

Todd Shupe Says Steps Still Remain In Effort To Find Safe Substances For Wood Treatment

todd shupeWhen it comes to construction, wood of many forms quite literally lays the foundation of the process. You’d be hard-pressed to build a new home without sheets upon sheets of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) to cover the walls and roof. The planks of wood that go into framing those walls or constructing the porch or deck are also copious. It’s this unavoidable aspect that’s a concern to Todd Shupe, a former wood science professor at LSU. That’s because so much wood used today for construction purposes has been treated with chemicals to ensure durability and resistance to the elements that will eventually test the limits of its longevity. Given that Todd Shupe also holds three degrees in forestry and wood science and was a lab director for years, it’s clear that he’s well-versed on the subject and can inform readers about the dangers of chemically-treated wood. “Todd directed a quality academic testing lab with an industrial sense of urgency,” Mike Freeman, a Memphis, Tennessee-based consultant, recently said.

In a recent article that appeared in The Chippewa Herald, a municipal government recycling specialist sounds off on the dangerous surrounding open burning of trash – including wood. The reason for her warning surrounding backyard burning is that the chemicals released during the process are sent straight into the atmosphere and aren’t treated like they would be at a specialized facility. According to the article, “untreated wood” can be burned with a permit from your local government office. Unfortunately, as Todd Shupe can tell you, untreated wood is hard to come by unless you just chopped the limb off of a tree. The chemicals used to treat wood for non-residential purposes included heavy metals such as chromim, copper, and asenic, pentachlorophenol and creosote. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all wood preservatives are subjected to periodic reviews. That’s with good reason, says Todd Shupe, who notes that creosote is absorbed into the body through breathing and can remain there after being stored in fat. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that this chemical can cause “burning in the mouth and throat as well as stomach pain.”

Fortunately, the EPA and other entities have realized the dangers of treating wood with chemicals that have an adverse effect on human health. Fortunately, there are government agencies restricting use or ditching harmful chemicals altogether. From a science standpoint, Todd Shupe says that the solution is to either dispose of chemically-treated wood in a responsible manner or find metal-free preservatives. He’s similarly encouraged by the ongoing development of metal-free wood preservatives and the use of small diameter timber for the bio-energy sector.