March 08, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King have joined with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) to reintroduce the Timber Innovation Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation that aims to find new and innovative uses for wood as a building material. The legislation would accelerate the research and development of wood for use in construction projects, focusing on the construction of buildings over 85 feet in height.
“Maine is a goldmine of fiber, and all we need to do is work together to figure out new and innovative ways to put it to good use,” Senator King said. “This legislation will help do that by sparking research and development efforts for wood construction that will support Maine’s forest products industry, drive rural economies, and benefit the environment by reducing carbon emissions – a win for everyone involved.”
“Maine has an abundance of timber and a strong tradition of maintaining sustainable, working forests,” said Senator Collins. “By promoting the research and development necessary to engineer wood for innovative uses in larger construction projects, this legislation would support Maine jobs, particularly in rural parts of the state, and invigorate our forest products 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.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
The bipartisan bill is supported by Weyerhaeuser, National Wildlife Federation, and the American Wood Council, in addition to more than 100 other stakeholders. In Maine, the legislation is supported by the Maine Forest Products Council and the University of Maine School of Forest Resources:
“Our members support the Timber Innovation Act because Maine’s lumber, wood panels and cross-laminated timber will go into these tall buildings,” said Patrick Strauch, Executive Director of the Maine Forest Products Council. “Locally sourced wood from our sustainably managed forests provides a low-carbon, renewable and economical building solution. It’s an important part of our region’s growing green economy.”
“The use of Maine sourced timber and engineered wood composites could be increased in important and developing construction applications such as mass timber non-residential structures,” said Dr. Stephen Shaler, Director of the University of Maine School of Forest Resources. “This bill could help accelerate and expand Maine commercial manufacturing opportunities and associated engineering and architectural services. UMaine's expertise and R&D facilities are actively engaged and working with Maine industry in these sectors.”
The text of the legislation can be read HERE.