Wood products, forestry applaud House introduction of “Timber Innovation Act”

Jul 06, 2016

WASHINGTON – 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,” introduced by Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA).

The bill (H.R. 5628) is a companion to the Senate bill (S. 2892) and would establish a performance-driven research and development program to advance tall wood building construction in the United States. The House bill also includes language allowing the Wood Innovation Grant program to support proposals to use and/or retrofit existing sawmill facilities in areas with high employment to produce mass timber materials.

“The rise of green building practices means more attention is being paid than ever before to how our country’s buildings impact the environment, and Congress has taken note. Recognizing that wood provides the lowest life-cycle impact among major construction materials, legislators in both chambers of Congress have turned their attention to using mass timber to lessen the environmental burdens associated with the building sector. While tall wood building construction will benefit the sustainability in our urban areas, the effects will also promote rural prosperity. The manufacture of mass timber materials has the potential to support jobs in areas of rural America that have yet to recover from the recession. AWC thanks these legislators for their leadership in championing tall wood construction in the U.S. House of Representatives,” said AWC President and CEO Robert Glowinski.

“This companion legislation will not only help reduce our environmental footprint, it will also help the families and individuals who own and care for the largest portion of U.S. forests, and supply the majority of the timber we use. Encouraging wood markets ensures landowners have the needed income to keep their land in forests and are able to steward it so that all Americans get the resources they count on, such as clean water, wildlife habitat and sustainable wood supplies. We thank Representatives DelBene, Thompson, Kilmer and McMorris-Rodgers for putting forth smart forest conservation policy,” said Tom Martin, AFF President and CEO.

“We are pleased to see the House of Representatives join the Senate in recognizing 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.

The Senate bill was introduced by lead sponsors Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Mike Crapo (R-ID). The other co-sponsors include Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (R-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), James Risch (R-ID), Jon Tester (D-MT), David Perdue (R-GA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Additionally, over 95 outside supporting companies, organizations, environmental groups, labor unions and educational institutions supporting the Senate bill.

Recent advances in technology, engineering and safety have 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.