Helena Independent Record: Daines backs bill encouraging timber in tall buildings

Sen. Steve Daines has co-sponsored a bill to push more research and development on using wood for tall building construction.

The Timber Innovation Act, S. 2892, was authored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan. It will be heard by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Fellow Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho and Democratic senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Maria Cantwell of Washington also co-sponsored the bill.

The bill would look for ways to use timber framing in buildings more than 85 feet or seven stories high. State and federal building codes typically call for concrete or metal framing for structures that tall.

The National Forest Products Lab and several U.S. colleges and universities would be asked to explore methods of designing wood beams and designs that could meet those codes.

“There are many sound reasons why we support this bill,” said Julia Altemus, executive director of the Montana Wood Products Association. “Supporting the expansion of mass timber in commercial buildings creates jobs, while growing a market for timber products. It provides an incentive for private forest owners to keep their timberlands in private ownership and for timber resource managers to sustainably manage their resources.

American Forest Foundation President Tom Martin said the act would benefit about 35,000 private woodland owners in Montana who control more than 3 million acres of forest.

Techniques currently under consideration include a Canadian firm’s cross-laminated timber panel, which uses polyurethane glues and small timber pieces to make sheets stronger than concrete but one-fifth as heavy. The University of British Columbia has a project underway to build an 18-story student dorm out of wood.