Letters to the Editor

How tall wood buildings can grow economy

Allendale-based Cullum’s Lumber’s president Micky Scott stands on a large crane used to unload raw logs from trucks, feeds the mill and takes inventory.
Allendale-based Cullum’s Lumber’s president Micky Scott stands on a large crane used to unload raw logs from trucks, feeds the mill and takes inventory. kkfoster@thestate.com

While wood is one of the oldest building materials around, wood buildings in the United States rarely are taller than four stories. Due to innovation with forest products manufacturing, this may soon change.

The demand for green building materials, along with improvements in the structural integrity and fire resistance of wood products, has led Europe and Canada to encourage construction of tall wood buildings.

These buildings are more than 85 feet tall and built with cross-laminated timber and other flexible products that make them a safer option during earthquakes and high winds.

South Carolina is a good place for cross-laminated timber manufacturers to consider locating, with nearly 13 million acres of forest and timberland, a strong right to practice forestry law and the recent investment in transportation infrastructure.

Congress has an opportunity to help create jobs in the rural areas of our state by including the Timber Innovation Act in the 2018 farm bill.

This legislation enjoys strong bipartisan support in the House and the Senate. It would establish a research and development program for tall wood building construction, creating opportunities for universities to do research and perform outreach to architects and builders and create incentives to retrofit existing facilities in rural areas with high unemployment to produce mass timber products. Expanding markets for mass timber products would encourage timberland owners to plant more trees. Trees store carbon, improve wildlife habit and restore watershed health, all at no cost to taxpayers.

The Timber Innovation Act is a rarity these days: a bipartisan idea that creates jobs, promotes conservation and reduces our carbon footprint.

The forestry industry and conservationists encourage the state’s congressional delegation to help make the United States a leader in tall wood building construction.

Cam Crawford

President, S.C. Forestry Association

Columbia

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