PORTLAND, Ore. — The Obama Administration highlighted their support of sustainable, wood-building materials as a way to create jobs, support rural communities and conserve the environment at the White House Rural Council workshop “Building with Wood: Jobs and the Environment.”
At the White House meeting, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack announced a new partnership to train architects, engineers and builders about the benefits of advanced wood-building materials, as well as plans for a design competition to design and build high-rise, wood-demonstration projects. Wood may be one of the world’s oldest building materials, but it is now also one of the most advanced, according to Vilsack.
Green building leaders across the nation have responded favorably to the new plans to invest $1 million in WoodWorks, a nonprofit that provides technical support, education and resources to architects, engineers and developers of wood buildings, and $1 million in the upcoming prize design contest.
“Secretary Vilsack’s leadership is a win for both the environment and the economy. These projects will support the creation of many new jobs in rural communities, stimulate U.S. manufacturing innovation and lower the construction costs and environmental impact of buildings,” said Cees de Jager, executive director of the Binational Softwood Lumber Council (BSLC), in a statement.
The BSLC has also pledged an additional $1 million to fund the competition. The competition will concentrate on tall wood buildings and is meant to foster education and collaboration.
“Green building is ultimately about education. With more information on how our choices impact the environment and markets, we can make better-informed decisions,” said Jerry Yudelson, president of the Green Building Initiative, in a statement. “With our Green Globes rating system, GBI continues to support the use of lifecycle assessment in green building design, and we encourage design teams to consider a range of environmental impacts when designing a building, whether using wood, concrete or steel.”
Robert Glowinski, president and CEO of the American Wood Council, commended the movement that will highlight the many benefits of sustainable wood-building materials.
“Wood-building products provide numerous environmental benefits, not the least of which is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and storing atmospheric carbon for decades. Wood-product manufacturing also requires much less energy and results in less air and water pollution than many alternative building materials,” Glowinski said in a statement. “We applaud USDA for its recent efforts and strongly encourage continued coordination between industry and government to achieve mutual goals benefitting consumers, the environment and the wood products manufacturing industry."
The efforts to promote wood buildings also support the president’s Climate Action Plan goal of preserving the role of forests in mitigating climate change, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.