USDA says Go Wood!

In a press release published yesterday, Tom Vilsack, current USDA Agriculture Secretary, laid out plans to increase wood use in buildings. This is of course great news for anyone related to wood research, manufacturing and construction but above all it’s great news for the environment. After all, wood is the only major building material that’s naturally renewable.

Main points in the USDA strategy are:

  • The U.S. Forest Service will preferentially select wood in new building construction while maintaining its commitment to certified green building standards. USDA will also make a commitment to using wood and other agricultural products as it fulfills President Obama’s executive order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.
  • The Secretary has asked the U.S. Forest Service to examine ways to increase its already strong commitment to green building by reporting to him on ways to enhance the research and development being done around green building materials.
  • The U.S. Forest Service will actively look for opportunities to demonstrate the innovative use of wood as a green building material for all new structures of 10,000 square feet or more using recognized green building standards such as LEED, Green Globes or the National Green Building Standard.

The release continues then to make a case for wood as an environmentally-friendly building material:

A recent Forest Service lifecycle analysis found that harvesting, transporting, manufacturing and using wood in lumber and panel products in building yields fewer air emissions – including greenhouse gases – than resource extraction, manufacturing and using other commonly-used building materials. In fact, wood –based wall systems can require significantly less total energy for manufacturing than thermally comparable houses using other common material systems.

You can find the complete release here: Release No. 0143.11