U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week the USDA’s strategy to promote the use of wood as a green building material. Vilsack outlined a three-part plan addressing the Forest Service’s and USDA’s current green building practices.

“Wood has a vital role to play in meeting the growing demand for green building materials. Forest Service studies show that wood compares favorably to competing materials,” says Vilsack.

The strategy includes the following parts:

1. 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.

2. The Secretary has asked the U.S. Forest Service to examine ways to increase its already strong commitment to green building by reporting on ways to enhance the research and development being done around green building materials.

3. 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.

In carrying out this initiative, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell issued a directive to all units calling for increased use of locally milled timber in all new agency buildings and facilities. Secretary Vilsack also directed the heads of all other USDA agencies to incorporate the Forest Service policy of using domestic sustainable wood products as the preferred green building material for all USDA facilities and buildings.

Many wood industry associations haven spoke out to commend the USDA for its announcement.

“Our industry has consistently spread the message that wood is the ultimate green building material because it’s renewable, sustainable, carbon-neutral, and can be locally sourced and repurposed at the end of a building’s life,” says the Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association president Frank Vallot. “The USDA’s efforts will not only encourage the use of American-grown wood and improve the health of America’s forests, but also will help retain and create jobs in our country.”

“We thank Secretary Vilsack for his leadership and for sending a message that the Administration is serious about the role wood can play in supporting green building initiatives, rural communities, and the overall sustainability of the forest sector,” adds Sustainable Forestry Initiative President and chief executive officer Kathy Abusow. “The USDA strategy makes it clear that opportunities for wood and choice in green building rating tools are part of the solution.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *