Merkley, Wyden Announce Grant to Oregon State University for Timber Research

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Agriculture subcommittee, and Ron Wyden today announced that a nearly half-million dollar U.S. Department of Agriculture grant was awarded to Oregon State University for research on the durability of cross-laminated timber, an innovative product that is helping to advance wood as a construction material for tall buildings.

“We have been working to establish Oregon as a hub for mass timber products, using local timber and bolstering our forest products economy,” said Merkley, who each year on the Appropriations Committee has fought to fund this important grants program. “This research at OSU supports the innovative manufacturing that helps to create jobs in the rural part of the state, and lays the groundwork for tall wood building construction in urban parts of the state. I will continue to use my seat on the appropriations committee to get this important research and development funded.”

“Oregon is leading the way in developing state-of-the-art timber products that are revolutionizing our nation’s construction industry,” Wyden said. “This funding supports the ongoing research and innovative work Oregon State University is doing to ensure timber products can continue to spark economic growth and create good-paying jobs across Oregon.”

“Oregon State University is at the forefront of research to inform engineering design guidelines for cross-laminated timber structural systems,” said Anthony S. Davis, Acting Dean of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. “This grant award is another example of the excellent research done by scientists affiliated with OSU and the TallWood Design Institute. Further, we recognize the important leadership of Senator Merkley who has been a consistent champion for investing in the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which provides competitive grants like this that allow Oregon to be a recognized leader in mass timber engineering, manufacturing, and architectural design.” 

Oregon has been at the forefront of developing mass timber products, including cross-laminated timber, mass plywood panels, nail laminated timber, glue laminated timber, laminated strand lumber, and laminated veneer lumber. However, U.S. building codes do not currently recognize mass timber products as official construction materials, leaving the products without a standard rating system for quality, fire resistance, earthquake resistance, and more.

The $489,793 grant will fund a project that will characterize the effects of moisture accumulation in mass timber buildings on the structural building components and connections. The results of this research will lead to engineering design guidelines that account for the effects of moisture intrusion on panel and connection properties for cross-laminated timber structural systems.

Further advancing this innovative technology, Merkley, along with Wyden, led the effort to include the Timber Innovation Act in the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill will establish a new research and development program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture that focuses on developing the application of mass timber products for building construction; analyzing the safety of tall wood buildings; identifying building code modification for wooden buildings; and calculating the environmental footprint of wood buildings. The bill also creates a grant program that provides funding to accelerate the adoption of emerging wood technology for building construction.