October 19, 2021

National Design Competition Launches to Demonstrate the Role of Mass Timber in Decarbonizing the Built Environment

The USDA Forest Service and Softwood Lumber Boardwill award $2M in grants to winning project teams.

The Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) and USDA Forest Service (USDA), announced today the Mass Timber Competition: Building to Net-Zero Carbon to showcase mass timber’s innovative applications in architectural design, and highlight its significant role in reducing the carbon footprint of the built environment. The competition will serve to strengthen the mass timber sector and support increased employment in advanced wood products design, engineering, construction, and manufacturing sectors.

“The USDA is pleased to partner with the Softwood Lumber Board on a second mass timber building competition to expand wood construction as a natural climate solution,” said Chief Randy Moore. “We see tremendous opportunity in the link between mass timber construction, sustainable forest management, and the health and resiliency of U.S. forests, especially as we look to mitigate the impacts of climate change like increased wildfires in the western United States.”

The competition will award $2M to multiple project teams to design and construct mass timber buildings in the U.S. that are repeatable and scalable. Project grants are anticipated to be up to $500,000 each. The program will also share lessons learned and research findings, including carbon footprint life cycle assessment (LCA) results, to help support future mass timber projects. Eligible building types include commercial, institutional, industrial, educational, mixed-use, and affordable multifamily housing developments. Beginning in 2021 the International Code Council International Building Code allowed the construction of mass timber buildings up to 18 stories in height.

“With 17,000 commercial and multifamily buildings built annually in the United States, there is significant potential to improve the carbon footprint of the built environmental using mass timber building systems,” said Cees de Jager, SLB President and CEO. “Wood construction’s embodied and embedded carbon benefits offer the building sector a viable and credible path to net-zero carbon.”

Timber sourced for the project must demonstrate sustainable forest management that contributes to forest and watershed health. Several approaches are used to ensure sustainable supply of wood products, including federal, state, and local regulations, third party certifications, best management practices, and an emerging ASTM standard.

The mass timber competition is open to for-profit building sector organizations registered in the U.S. including architects, engineers, developers and building owners; not-for-profit organizations incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation or society formed in the U.S. such as colleges, universities, and associations; U.S. local governments; and Native American Tribal governments and organizations. WoodWorks, a non-profit staffed with architects, structural engineers, and construction experts, will manage the competition.

This is the second mass timber competition hosted and funded by the USDA and the SLB. Applicants can submit proposals beginning early 2022 and winners will be announced in late spring/early summer. To learn more about the Mass Timber Competition: Building to Net-Zero Carbon visit http://www.softwoodlumberboard.org/net-zero.

About the USDA Forest Service

The USDA Forest Service has brought people and communities together to answer the call of conservation for more than 100 years. Grounded in world-class science and rooted in communities, the Forest Service connects people with nature and to each other. The Forest Service cares for shared natural resources in ways that promote lasting economic, ecological, and social vitality. 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. The Forest Service also maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world and assists state and private landowners, helping to steward about 900 million forested acres in the U.S., including 130 million acres in urban areas, which most Americans now call home.  

About the Softwood Lumber Board

The Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) is an industry funded initiative established to promote the uses as well as the environmental and economic benefits of softwood lumber products. Programs and initiatives supported by the SLB, including American Wood Council, Think Wood and WoodWorks, focus on increasing the demand for lumber products in the United States. For more information visit www.softwoodlumberboard.org.

About WoodWorks

WoodWorks – Wood Products Council provides education and free technical support related to the design, engineering, and construction of commercial and multi-family wood buildings in the U.S. A non-profit staffed with architects, structural engineers, and construction experts, WoodWorks has the expertise to assist with all aspects of wood building design. For assistance with a project, visit www.woodworks.org/project-assistance or email help@woodworks.org.

Media Contact:

Kabira Ferrell, Softwood Lumber Board

ferrell@softwoodlumberboard.org