Senators Stabenow and Crapo, Representatives DelBene and Thompson lead effort to spur economic development through the construction of tall wood buildings
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today joined Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Glenn Thompson (PA-05) to reintroduce the Timber Innovation Act – bipartisan, bicameral legislation that aims to find new and innovative uses for wood as a building material. The legislation will accelerate the research and development of wood for use in construction projects, focusing on the construction of buildings over 85 feet in height.
“Building with wood benefits both rural economies and the environment,” Stabenow said. “This bill will help expand markets for wood products coming out of forests in Michigan and all across the country. At the same time, using wood for construction reduces pollution and incentivizes private landowners to keep their land forested, rather than selling it to developers.”
“Idaho is a recognized, national leader for wood products research and development,” Crapo said. “Through their leadership, the women and men of Idaho’s wood products industry will 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.”
While wood products have been an integral part of construction for centuries, most wood buildings do not exceed three to four stories in height. However, with recent developments in wood products engineering alongside other new technologies, it is now possible to expand the use of wood into larger construction projects.
Building on that momentum, the Timber Innovation Act 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.
“Advancing tall wood building construction through the Timber Innovation Act is a win for working families and our environment,” DelBene said. “Technological advancements in cross-laminated timber have made it easier for us to support healthy forests, wildlife habitats and rural economies dependent on forest products. Encouraging the use of green building materials instead of building materials dependent on fossil fuels reduces greenhouse gases creating a cleaner, healthier environment for future generations.”
“Communities in the Fifth District of Pennsylvania depend on the revenue from high-value timbering and forest products generated by the Allegheny National Forest and privately held lands throughout the Commonwealth,” Thompson said. “That’s why I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of the Timber Innovation Act. This bipartisan legislation encourages the utilization of cutting edge technologies in support of wood building construction, along with research and development, while simultaneously advancing sustainable forest management and opportunities in rural communities.”
Stabenow and Crapo’s Senate bill is cosponsored by Senators Cantwell (D-WA), Collins (R-ME), Daines (R-MT), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Merkley (D-OR), Peters (D-MI), Risch (R-ID),Tester (D-MT), Wyden (D-OR), and Wicker (R-MS).
DelBene and Thompson’s House bill is cosponsored by Representatives Abraham (LA-05), Bonamici (OR-01), DeFazio (OR-04), Harper (MS-03), Kilmer (WA-06), Kuster (NH-02), Larsen (WA-02), McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Palazzo (MS-04), Schrader (OR-05), Welch (VT-AL), and Westerman (AR-04).
The bipartisan bill is supported by Weyerhaeuser, National Wildlife Federation, and the American Wood Council, in addition to more than 100 other stakeholders.
Adrian Blocker, Weyerhaeuser senior vice president of wood products: “There is enormous potential for mass timber and the Timber Innovation Act takes an important step forward to advance this new technology. While wood is one of the oldest building materials around, new technology utilizing engineered mass timber panels and wood-based building systems creates new possibilities for wood construction.”
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 the 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 Senator Stabenow, and all of the cosponsors, for leading on the Timber Innovation Act.”
A copy of the bill can be found here: Timber Innovation Act legislative text.