Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are lining up behind a new bill that would promote the use of wood to construct tall buildings.
The Timber Innovation Act, which has the support of several lumber trade groups, was sponsored by members of both parties. The act would:
- Establish a performance driven research and development program for advancing tall wood building construction
- Authorize the Tall Wood Building Prize Competition through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Create federal grants to support state, local, university and private sector education, outreach, research and development, including education and assistance for architects and builders
- Authorize technical assistance from USDA, in cooperation with states, to provide education and technical assistance for mass timber applications
- Incentivize the retrofitting of existing timber facilities located in areas with high unemployment rates to spur job creation in rural areas.
Tall, wood frame buildings are gaining popularity in Canada and Europe, in particular. The concept is somewhat controversial, however, with some fire chiefs concerned about the structures’ safety in the event of fire.