WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) secured bipartisan legislation in the Farm Bill that promotes new and innovative uses for wood as a building material. The legislation known as the Timber Innovation Act will accelerate the research and development of wood for use in construction projects – such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) – focusing on the construction of buildings more than 85 feet in height.
In March 2017, Senator Cantwell along with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and several of her Senate and House colleagues, reintroduced the Timber Innovation Act – bipartisan, bicameral legislation.
“The Timber Innovation Act will create new jobs across rural Washington by fostering innovation. The building technologies promoted in our bill, like cross-laminated timber, will bring several wins to Washington, including faster construction of buildings, more eco-friendly buildings, and new timber jobs,” said Cantwell.
Cross-laminated timber is driving the effort to replace concrete with wood in construction. These buildings are faster to construct, more energy efficient, and comprised completely from renewable materials. Wood products have been an integral part of construction for centuries, but most wood buildings do not exceed three to four stories in height. 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.
Passage of the Timber Innovation Act will 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 will 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.
New “mass timber” technologies, such as CLT, are becoming more frequently discussed in the state of Washington. Research on building with CLT is underway at Washington State University and the University of Washington. In addition, several towns and businesses around the state are exploring this technology. Multiple parties are seeking to develop in Washington tall wood buildings and the production facilities to source them.
Just last week, the Washington State Building Code Council announced a revision to the state’s building codes to allow for expedited permitting of buildings made of CLT. Specifically, the Washington building code will now allow for wooden buildings up to 18 stories tall.
Senator Cantwell and a bipartisan group of senators wrote to the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in May to express strong support of the inclusion of the Timber Innovation Act in the 2018 Farm Bill.
In the letter, the senators wrote, “The steps taken by S. 538 to promote the application of mass-timber technologies will assist the U.S. Forest Service in achieving their mandate of maintaining healthy, sustainable forest production for years to come.”
In addition to Senator Cantwell and Senator Stabenow, cosponsors of the legislation include Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Glenn Thompson (PA-05) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Read the bill text of the Timber Innovation Act HERE.