The 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.
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