U.S.: New bill to support R&D in tall wood buildings

A new bipartisan bill will now accelerate the research and development – and ultimately construction – of wood buildings in the United States. The Timber Innovation Act, introduced on Tuesday, May 2, focuses on finding innovative ways to use wood in the construction of buildings above 85 feet in height (or seven or more storeys).

“Wood construction is a winner for our rural economies and for our environment,” U.S. Senator Debbie 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.

Senator Mike Crapo added that the legislation would fuel jobs and research benefitting 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 new bill would incentivise 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.

The bill was lauded by industry stakeholders.

“The Timber Innovation Act is an exciting step forward, creating new markets and opportunities for wood construction. Wood is a cost effective, energy efficient, renewable, and sustainable alternative for building multi-story buildings in an urban environment,” said Adrian Blocker, Weyerhaeuser senior vice president of Wood Products.

Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation said, “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 sawn timber, we will help landowners keep their forests as forests, while avoiding global warming pollution from conventional building materials.”