The Timber Innovation Act seeks to find new uses for wood as material for tall buildings. Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with Oregon Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader, have joined the Senate and House in introducing the bipartisan act.

The bill would create a program for advancing tall wood building construction in the U.S., authorize the annual Tall Wood Building Prize Competition for the next five years and establish federal grants for education, outreach, research and development that would accelerate the use of wood in buildings over 85 feet tall.

Based in Riddle, D.R. Johnson Lumber Co. became the first manufacturer in the U.S. certified to produce cross-laminated timber panels for tall wood building construction in 2015.

“We applaud the members of Congress who co-sponsored the Timber Innovation Act bill and encourage others to sign on,” said Valerie Johnson, president and CEO of D.R. Johnson Wood Innovations. She added that her team has worked with architects, engineers and researchers to pioneer mass timber construction in the country.

“We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish thus far and know that focused investment in this emerging sector can be a game changer,” Johnson said. “Mass timber construction can drive the green building revolution of the 21st century and catalyze job creation in rural areas. It is a win-win.”

The act would also spur job creation in rural areas like Douglas County and authorize a technical assistance and education program from the United States Department of Agriculture for mass timber applications.

Congresswoman Bonamici said Oregon’s research institutions and scientists are leading the way toward a greener and more robust economy.

“Rural communities have the opportunity to generate more jobs and value from their natural resources,” Bonamici said. “Oregonians benefit from low-carbon, more sustainable construction materials that create beautiful buildings. I am proud to champion innovative timber products and will continue to look for ways to grow this exciting new industry.”

Reporter Emily Hoard can be reached at 541-957-4217 or ehoard@nrtoday.com. Or follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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Outdoors and Natural Resources Reporter

Emily Hoard is the business, outdoors and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4217 or by email at ehoard@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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