USDA Announces Partnership with WoodWorks to Advance the Use of Wood in Buildings

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today announced  a $1 million program to be implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service in partnership with the Wood Products Council’s WoodWorks initiative, to provide training for architects, engineers and builders related to the use of advanced wood materials in U.S. buildings.

The program supports both The President’s Climate Action Plan goal of preserving the role of forests in mitigating climate change and the objective of the recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill to create rural jobs. In particular, it aligns with President Obama’s direction for his administration to work with the White House Rural Council to create a new Made-in-Rural America export investment initiative, which is aimed in part at helping rural businesses and leaders access new customers and markets, both at home and abroad.

“We appreciate Mr. Vilsack’s support of the WoodWorks program,” said Christopher McIver, Chair of the Wood Products Council board and Vice President of Lumber, Sales and Corporate Development for West Fraser.  “WoodWorks has the unique role of working closely with design and construction professionals to provide education and project support related to the use of wood in buildings. We look forward to expanding this work in partnership with the USDA.”

“The market for wood and other forest products currently supports more than 1 million direct jobs, many in rural America,” said Jennifer Cover, PE, Executive Director of WoodWorks. “As advanced wood products allow the use of wood in a greater variety of buildings—including wood high-rises—we can increase the role of forests in mitigating climate change while strengthening rural economies.”

Using wood from sustainably managed forests helps keep carbon out of the atmosphere because wood products require less fossil fuels to manufacture than other major building materials, resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions, and because wood continues to store carbon absorbed from the atmosphere while the tree was growing. In the case of buildings, this carbon remains stored for the lifetime of the structure—or longer if the wood is reclaimed and re-used or manufactured into other products.

To encourage further advancement, today’s announcement also included plans for a prize competition to design and build wood high-rise demonstration projects.

About WoodWorks

An initiative of the Wood Products Council, WoodWorks (www.woodworks.org) provides free project assistance as well as education and resources related to the design and construction of non-residential and multi-family wood buildings. WoodWorks technical experts offer support from design through construction on a wide range of building types—including mid-rise/multi-residential, educational, commercial, corporate, institutional and public. 

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