It’s a new year and time to look towards the future of the timber industry and examine the potential for positive change with upcoming initiatives such as the Timber Innovation Act.
The bill, currently finding bipartisan support from both political parties and the backing by the wood industry, would promote research and labor in the timber industry and create initiatives to drive the construction of tall wooden buildings. Furman Brodie, Vice President of Charles Ingram Lumber Company and SLMA (Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association) chairman of the Board, outlines the benefits of the bill:
“We are pleased to see Congress recognize 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,”
As the name implies, the bill would bring forth incentives and measures to create innovation in the timber industry and to help further development of CLT structures in the USA. TimberInnovation.com states that the bill would:
• Establish performance driven research and development program for advancing tall wood building construction in the United States;
• Authorize the Tall Wood Building Prize Competition through the U.S. Department of Agriculture annually for the next five years;
• Codify the Forest Service’s Wood Innovation Grant program and expand it to facilitate Centers of Excellence and provide grants to states to fund education, outreach, research and development, including education and assistance for architects and builders, which will accelerate the use of wood in tall buildings.
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 unemployment to produce mass timber materials.
The U.S. Senate introduced the Timber Innovation Act (S. 2892) and a House companion bill (H.R. 5628). Both measures have been led by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) for the Senate, Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) for the House. You can read the bill here.
Though the bill has still not yet passed, things are looking good for the Timber Innovation Act. We hope 2017 will see its implementation and lead to a bright, productive future for timber!