Program follows Senators’ cosponsorship of the Timber Innovation Act and December 2018 letter requesting educational institutions explore new uses for mass timber
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King and Susan Collins today applauded an announcement from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) that they have partnered to initiate the Mass Timber University Grant Program. The new grant program aims to promote the construction of mass timber buildings on American higher education campuses throughout the country. The announcement follows a December 2018 letter – led by Senator King and signed by Senator Collins – that urged the USFS to establish an award program for education institutions to explore new potential uses for mass timber.
“Mass timber construction projects offer an exciting opportunity for Maine’s forest products industry,” Senators King and Collins said. “With colleges and universities constantly building and expanding, mass timber projects can produce high-quality, environmentally-friendly facilities that students, faculty, and local communities can enjoy. This grant program is an important step forward to encourage greater visibility for mass timber projects and to further innovation in the Maine woods.”
Mass Timber development and commercialization were key recommendations in the 2017 outlined Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) report, which was originally requested in March 2016 by Senators Collins and King and worked across federal and state agencies, industry sectors, and municipalities to create strategies for job growth and economic development in Maine’s rural communities. Following the EDAT report, the Economic Development Administration awarded grant funding to the University of Maine to create the Maine Mass Timber Commercialization Center. The facility aims to create a center for forest industry partners, construction firms, and other stakeholders to come together to advance new forest product technologies in Maine.
Additionally, key provisions of the Timber Innovation Act, which Senators King and Collins cosponsored, were included in the Farm Bill which passed Congress in December. These provisions encourage investment in the manufacturing facilities needed to produce mass timber products domestically, incentivize the construction of buildings with wood, and provide designers and code officials with the research and technical support they need to embrace this new construction technology.