Stabenow, Crapo introduce bill to accelerate research, development of U.S. wood building construction

Published: May. 2, 2016 at 1:00 PM MDT
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U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced bipartisan legislation Monday for accelerate research and development of wood buildings in the United States.

The Timber Innovation Act focuses on finding innovative ways to use wood in building construction above 85 feet high, or about seven or more stories in height, according to a news release.

“Wood construction is a winner for our rural economies and for our environment,” Stabenow said. “Our bill helps drive a new market for forest products - keeping loggers at work in the woods and helping to sustain rural communities. At the same time, using wood for construction reduces carbon pollution and gives private landowners an economic incentive to keep their land forested, instead of parceling it up for development.”

This legislation is being proposed because more wood buildings do not exceed three or four stories in height, and the belief is that recent developments in wood products engineering and other new technologies make it possible to expand the use of wood into larger construction projects.

“Idaho is recognized as a national leader in wood products research and development,” Crapo said. “It is natural that Idahoans help foster the next major development for the industry, that of taller, wood-frame construction. This legislation will fuel jobs and research good for both consumers and industry.”

The bill would incentivize investment through the National Forest Products Lab and American colleges and universities to conduct research and development on new methods for the construction of wood buildings. Additionally, the bill would support ongoing efforts at the United States Department of Agriculture to further support the use of wood products as a building material for tall buildings.

Stabenow and Crapo’s bill is sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and is supported by Weyerhaeuser, National Wildlife Federation, and the American Wood Council, in addition to more than 75 other stakeholders.

Adrian Blocker, Weyerhaeuser senior vice president of Wood Products:

“The Timber Innovation Act is an exciting step forward, creating new markets and opportunities for wood construction. While wood is one of the oldest building materials, new technology utilizing engineered mass timber panels and wood-based building systems is opening new possibilities for wood use. It is a cost effective, energy efficient, renewable, and sustainable alternative for building multi-story buildings in an urban environment.”

Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation: "Healthy, well-managed forests can provide important habitat for wildlife, restore watershed health, and help store carbon. By supporting the development of new markets for saw timber, we will help landowners keep their forests as forests, while avoiding global warming pollution from conventional building materials.”

Robert Glowinski, president and CEO of American Wood Council: “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.”