The American Wood Council (AWC), American Forest Foundation (AFF), Binational Softwood Lumber Council (BSLC) and Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (SLMA) today announced their strong support for the “Timber Innovation Act” (S. 2892), introduced by lead sponsors Sens. Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Mike Crapo (ID). Sens. Amy Klobuchar (MN), Steve Daines (MT) and Maria Cantwell (WA) are also original co-sponsors. The bill would:
- Establish 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; and
- Authorize technical assistance for 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.
“Advancing the construction of tall wood buildings will help lower the cost of building construction and reduce reliance on fossil fuel-intensive materials. This in turn helps avoid production of greenhouse gases that would have otherwise been emitted during manufacture of alternative products. Tall wood building construction will also support jobs in areas of rural America that have yet to recover from the recession. Given the many national benefits that would occur as a result of bill’s passage, the United States has an opportunity to accelerate and lead in the adoption of tall wood buildings and significantly expand markets for wood products,” said AWC President and CEO Robert Glowinski.
“This legislation will not only help reduce the environmental footprint of the built environment, it will help keep families, who own and care for a large portion of U.S. forests and supply a majority of the timber we use, on the land and help them keep their land in forest. In this respect, it is an incredibly powerful forest conservation strategy and we thank Senators Stabenow, Crapo, Klobuchar, Daines and Cantwell for leading the effort,” said Tom Martin, AFF President and CEO.
“We are pleased to see Congress recognize the potential environmental and economic benefits of increasing wood use in tall building applications through the ‘Timber Innovation Act.’ Our mills are large drivers of the rural economies in which we operate, and expanded markets will help to bolster and grow these economies. Encouraging the use of wood products also benefits the environment, as increased wood demand encourages landowners to continue planting trees instead of converting their land to other purposes,” said Furman Brodie, Vice President of Charles Ingram Lumber Company in Effingham, South Carolina and SLMA Chairman of the Board.
Buildings have been built 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. In the last five years, 17 buildings between seven and 14 stories have been built using heavy timber construction globally. Canada, Norway, Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden and France all have constructed and occupied multiple tall-wood buildings.