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USDA Launches Sustainable Wood Construction Training Program

logsThe US Department of Agriculture has announced an initiative to educate architects, engineers and builders about the benefits of sustainable, advanced wood building materials, and plans for a forthcoming prize competition to design and build high-rise wood demonstration projects.

The training program will include a $1 million investment from the Forest Service and will be done in partnership with WoodWorks, a nonprofit organization that provides technical support, education, and resources related to the design of modern wood buildings for architects, engineers, and developers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a competition, which is expected to begin later this year, for developers, institutions, organizations and design teams competing to demonstrate the architectural and commercial viability of using sustainable wood products in high-rise construction. The department is planning to invest up to $1 million to launch the competition. One non-profit partner, the Binational Softwood Lumber Council, has committed an additional $1 million. The competition will help spur increased sustainability in construction and will give priority to applicants that source materials from rural domestic manufacturers and domestic, sustainably-managed forests.

Emerging engineered wood technologies can be used in industrial building projects such as tall buildings and skyscrapers, as well as other projects. By some industry estimates, a 3-5 story building made from emerging wood technologies has the same emissions control as taking up to 550 cars of the road for one year. Wood-based designs have also been demonstrated to improve energy efficiency, thereby reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling, according the the USDA.

Picture credit: Tree stump background via Shutterstock

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