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WASHINGTON, DC – U.S Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), announced Friday he is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to encourage research and development of innovative uses for wood as a building material in the construction of tall buildings over 85 feet in height. The Timber Innovation Act of 2017, which was introduced by U.S Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), would direct the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish programs to advance and improve environmentally-friendly wood building construction, support Michigan’s forestry industry and encourage good stewardship of forestry resources. According to a 2015 report from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Michigan’s forestry industry supports approximately 87,000 jobs and contributed nearly $17.8 billion to the state’s economy.
“Michigan’s forests are not only beautiful, they are an important economic resource for our state, especially in our rural communities in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula,” said Senator Peters. “I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan bill that will help promote sustainable practices and encourage builders to use Michigan timber to support environmentally sound construction and development. I thank Senator Stabenow for her leadership on this important issue that will boost Michigan’s forestry industry, create jobs and grow our economy.”
While lumber and wood products have been a key part of construction for centuries, most wood buildings do not exceed three to four stories in height. Recent developments in wood products engineering and new technologies, such as laminated timber and lumber, have encouraged greater use of wood in larger construction projects. According to the USDA, wood building materials are often more sustainable and environmentally friendly than other common building materials.
The Timber Innovation Act would build on recent developments in wood construction by promoting research and development through the National Forest Products Lab and American colleges and universities to identify new methods for the construction of wood buildings and to study the commercialization, safety, and environmental impact of tall wood building materials. The bill would also create a Wood Innovation Grant program to encourage builders to adopt emerging technologies and cutting-edge wood products, and launch an annual Tall Wood Building Competition to promote the development of new tall wood building designs.
The bill is supported by a coalition of forestry, conservation and lumber groups including the National Wildlife Foundation, Michigan Forest Products Council (MFPC), American Wood Council, American Forest Foundation, Binational Softwood Lumber Council, Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association.