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Stabenow, Crapo Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Accelerate Research, Development of Wood Building Construction in United States

Recent Advances in Wood Products Technology, Engineering Make Additional Construction Options More Viable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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) to introduce the Timber Innovation Act – bipartisan legislation that would help accelerate research and development – and ultimately construction – of wood buildings in the United States.  Specifically, this legislation would focus on finding innovative ways to use wood in the construction of buildings above 85 feet in height or roughly seven or more stories.

“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.”

“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.”

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, Stabenow and Crapo’s 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 – sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) –  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.”

A copy of the bill can be found: Timber Innovation Act legislative text.