WASHINGTON—The Obama Administration has endorsed wood as an environmentally preferable building material, and plans to immediately begin promoting it as such.
U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, said at an event marking 2011 as The International Year of the Forest, “Studies show wood compares favorably to competing materials. It plays a vital role in meeting the growing demand for green building materials.” He said this policy shift for USDA is consistent with President Obama’s 2009 executive order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.
Deb Hawkinson, executive director of the Hardwood Federation, called wood “a magnificent building material. Study after study has shown our forests are abundant and sustainable; and that wood is carbon neutral, requires significantly less energy for manufacturing, and can be recycled or repurposed.”
In his announcement, Vilsack asked his agency to make certain research and development projects on alternative building materials include wood. And he’s directed 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.”
“This has been a long time coming, and the recognition for our industry is well-deserved,” said Jamey French, former chairman of the Hardwood Federation and president of Northland Forest Products. “For too long wood has been discriminated against in green building standards or ignored by environmentally- conscious consumers. The Administration’s endorsement, coming on the heels of similar endorsements from both houses of Congress, will go a long way to reassuring our customers that American wood is good to use.