The Timber Innovation Act (S. 538 and H.R. 1380) was introduced to create opportunities to use wood products, including mass timber, in the construction of tall wood buildings.
Timber Innovation Act language included in the 2018 Farm Bill included:
Explore mass timber in the National Building Museum’s "Timber City" exhibit.
Video from Voice of America report, "Museum Exhibit Challenges Notion That Wood Is an Antiquated Building Material"
Innovation creates jobs and expands markets
Tall wood building construction has existed in Canada and Europe for years. Advancing the construction of tall wood buildings will help reduce the costs and increase the economic benefits of building construction. Wood building construction directly supports jobs in areas of rural America that have yet to recover from the recession. Mills are large drivers of the rural economies and expanded markets will help to bolster and grow these economies. Increased construction of tall wood buildings in urban areas will also increase jobs in the construction industry and the construction trades.
This legislation will also help keep families, who own and care for a large portion of U.S. forests and supply a majority of the timber we use, on the land and help them keep their land in forest. In this respect, it is an incredibly powerful forest conservation strategy.
Wood is the obvious green building material
The rise of green building practices means more attention on how our country's buildings impact the environment. The "Timber Innovation Act" would enhance the opportunities for the construction of buildings that will have the lowest environmental impact. Recognizing that wood, among the major construction materials, provides the lowest life-cycle impact, policymakers have increasingly turned their attention to using it more (along with tall wood) to lessen the environmental burdens associated with the building sector.
Wood reduces the building's environmental footprint
Wood products store carbon absorbed by trees during their growth cycle, keeping it out of the atmosphere indefinitely. Using wood in place of fossil fuel-intensive materials also avoids most of the greenhouse gases that would have been emitted during the manufacturing of such products. A White House Domestic Policy Council blog post said, "By some estimates, the near term use of [mass timber] and other emerging wood technologies in buildings 7-15 stories could have the same emissions control affect as taking more than 2 million cars off the road for one year."
Structural integrity of tall wood buildings
Model building codes developed by the International Code Council, guided by building and fire officials from all over the country, have established extensive requirements for safe construction. All building materials used in construction must meet minimum provisions of building codes adopted by state or local jurisdictions. All buildings constructed to meet those codes can be expected to have similar performance in terms of safety. Mass timber products, which would be used in tall wood buildings, resist the effects of fire through charring of the outer layer and insulate the unburned wood at the core, thereby maintaining strength and giving occupants more time to leave the building. Mass timber structures also have minimal concealed spaces within floor and wall assemblies, which reduce the risk that a fire will spread unnoticed. One of wood's characteristics is that it can carry substantially greater maximum loads for short durations, as is the case during high wind and seismic events.