November 17, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King, co-chair of the Senate Working Forest Caucus, is calling for the utilization of mass timber in federal building projects. In a letter to the Government Services Agency (GSA), King and a number of his colleagues questioned the agency about its process on integrating mass timber into the federal procurement process and using low-carbon building materials in the construction and renovation of federal buildings.
The Senators also highlighted the opportunity mass timber products present in creating rural jobs, reducing wildfire risk, increasing forest resiliency and reducing the carbon footprint of federal buildings. Nationally, the forest products industry employs roughly 925,000 people directly and supports nearly 2 million jobs indirectly. In Maine, the industry supports nearly 14,000 jobs across the state.
“By incorporating more mass timber products into federal buildings, the GSA has a unique and historic opportunity to help reduce the carbon footprint of federal buildings, all while reducing waste and construction costs and increasing seismic and fire resiliency,” wrote the Senators.
“Since 2015, mass timber has seen unprecedented growth in its use across the United States — from just a handful of buildings 8 years ago to almost 2,000 today. Further, the mass timber industry offers Americans access to good paying forestry jobs,” they continued.
The letter was also signed by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator King has been a national leader in efforts to support Maine’s forest products industry. This past April, alongside Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and the Working Forests Caucus, Senator King introduced a resolution to recognize the 151st Arbor Day. He also introduced the bipartisan Future Logging Careers Act to help train the next generation of Maine loggers.
Most recently, Senator King introduced the bipartisan Timber Innovation Act for Building Rural Communities Act to improve forest health and support Maine’s rural economy, as well as the Jobs in the Woods Act to improve forest industry improvement. He also introduced legislation to establish a “Future of Forests” panel tasked with making recommendations to secure the health of America’s forests. Senator King was also key in establishing the Forest Opportunity Roadmap Maine (FOR/ME) Initiative, a participant-led initiative that is helping to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract investments, support research and development, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities impacted by mill closures.
Full text of the letter can be found below or here.
Dear Commissioner Doomes,
We write to urge you to increase the utilization of mass timber in federal building projects. Mass timber products represent an opportunity to both create rural jobs, reduce wildfire risk, and increase forest resiliency, while also reducing the carbon footprint of federal buildings.
As you know, the impact of the federal procurement process is significant – with the GSA Green Building Advisory Committee reporting that federal funding supported the construction of over 253 million square feet of buildings, representing more than $11 billion in value. By incorporating more mass timber products into federal buildings, the GSA has a unique and historic opportunity to help reduce the carbon footprint of federal buildings, all while reducing waste and construction costs and increasing seismic and fire resiliency.
Since 2015, mass timber has seen unprecedented growth in its use across the United States – from just a handful of buildings 8 years ago to almost 2,000 today. Further, the mass timber industry offers Americans access to good paying forestry jobs. In fact, in Oregon, employment in this sector has grown six times faster than it has in the rest of the United States over the past decade.1
Given the numerous benefits of American-made mass timber and wood innovation products, please provide answers to the following:
We applaud the initial steps that GSA has taken to identify ways to increase the sustainability of the building materials used in the construction of federal buildings and increase the use of mass timber. We look forward to hearing your response to my questions and continuing to work with you to promote the use of mass timber in the public procurement process.