On Tuesday, March 7, leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate reintroduced the Timber Innovation Act, a bill to increase research and development of innovative forest products, which will ultimately help create or sustain markets for forest products for family woodland owners.
The bill, which was originally introduced in 2016 (See: “Wood Products, Forestry Endorse Timber Innovation Act”), primarily focuses on building the market for wood in the construction of tall buildings. The provisions of the largely bipartisan effort, in its current form, would:
- establish a performance driven research and development program for advancing tall wood building construction in the United States;
- authorize the Tall Wood Building Prize Competition through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) annually for the next five years;
- create federal grants to support state, local, university and private sector education, outreach, research and development, including education and assistance for architects and builders, that will accelerate the use of wood in tall buildings;
- authorize technical assistance from USDA, in cooperation with state foresters and state extension directors (or equivalent state officials), to implement a program of education and technical assistance for mass timber applications; and
- incentivize the retrofitting of existing facilities located in areas with high unemployment rates, to spur job creation in rural areas.
Buildings have been constructed out of wood for centuries. Up until recently, however, most wood buildings did not exceed six stories and were constructed of lightweight materials. Recent advances in technology, engineering and safety have now made it possible to build taller wood buildings using newly-developed mass timber products.
What National Forestry Leaders Are Saying
Robert Glowinski,President and CEO, American Wood Council
Mass timber buildings have existed for centuries, from Japanese wood pagodas built in the 7th century that still stand to the North American heavy timber structures that have stood for the last 100 years. The United States has an opportunity to bring new, sustainable mass timber technology to our construction industry, and the Timber Innovation Act directs technical assistance and research components already in place. Building construction using wood and mass timber products directly supports jobs in areas of rural America that have yet to recover from the recession and would lessen our dependence on fossil-fuel intensive alternatives, so having the federal government encourage further development of this emerging construction technology stands to benefit and enhance both infrastructure development and putting people to work. AWC thanks all of the cosponsors for leading on the Timber Innovation Act.
Tom Martin, President and CEO, American Forest Foundation
Hardworking families and individuals own and care for more than one-third of U.S forests. These families rely on markets for their timber to stay on the land and to afford to practice the stewardship needed to deliver the clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and products Americans use every day. Thanks to leaders in the House and Senate, this legislation directs research and development that will open forest market opportunities, create jobs and rural economic growth, and support millions of families across rural America.
Cees de Jager, General Manager, Binational Softwood Lumber Council
Mass timber technology is revolutionizing and disrupting the way buildings are being built around the world. Unfortunately, the United States has been trailing other markets in this regard. The Timber Innovation Act will significantly contribute to enhancing our industry’s ability to close the knowledge gap and stimulate private sector investment that supports manufacturing and job growth in rural communities, optimizes the construction process and regains our leadership position.
Dave Tenny, President and CEO, National Alliance of Forest Owners
Our nation’s private forests provide extraordinary benefits to the natural and human environment. Building larger and taller buildings with wood as envisioned under the Timber Innovation Act combines and magnifies these benefits by putting people back to work – especially in rural communities – and supporting forest investments that provide wildlife habitat, clean water and fresh air.
Nash Elliott, President, Elliott Sawmilling, and Chairman, Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association
As the third generation operators of a family owned lumber mill, and Chairman of an association that represents many family owned businesses in rural areas, we are pleased to see the Timber Innovation Act be introduced in the 115th Congress. The legislation recognizes the potential environmental and economic benefits of increasing wood use in tall building applications. The Timber Innovation Act will help our industry continue to employ people in our rural communities for generations to come, while encouraging landowners to continue growing trees that benefit our environment.