Source: United States Senator for Maine Susan Collins
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) announced that two Maine projects – one at Bowdoin College and one at the University of Maine (UMaine) – would receive $100,000 each from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) to research and construct mass timber, or cross-laminated timber (CLT), buildings on college campuses across the country. This award program comes after advocacy efforts by Maine’s Senators: in December 2018, Senator King led a bipartisan group of 9 Senators, including Senator Collins, in a letter urging USFS to create an award program for educational institutions seeking innovative modern uses for mass timber. Following this letter of support, the program was established by USFS in March.
“Maine’s forests are one of our state’s greatest natural resources, and it is important we maximize these assets by exploring every possible use for this important economic driver,” said Senators Collins and King. “Mass timber is an important new frontier for the forest products industry, and we are thrilled to see Maine is leading the way in the development of this high-quality and environmentally-friendly construction. These awards represent a major opportunity for both Maine’s educational institutions and our forest products industry, and we will continue to work to support future construction using this innovative approach.”
Of the ten awards granted by USFS, two will support Maine projects. Bowdoin College will use these funds in the construction of Barry Mills Hall & the Center for Arctic Studies, and UMaine will put the grant towards a laboratory addition that will host the world’s largest 3D printer. These funds will allow these Maine higher education institutions to build new, state-of-the-art facilities for students, in addition to highlighting the variety of potential uses for mass timber.
Mass Timber development and commercialization were key recommendations in the 2017 outlined Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) report, which was originally requested in March 2016 by Senators Collins and King and worked across federal and state agencies, industry sectors, and municipalities to create strategies for job growth and economic development in Maine’s rural communities. Following the EDAT report, the Economic Development Administration awarded grant funding to the University of Maine to create the Maine Mass Timber Commercialization Center. The facility aims to create a center for forest industry partners, construction firms, and other stakeholders to come together to advance new forest product technologies in Maine.
Additionally, key provisions of the Timber Innovation Act, which Senators King and Collins cosponsored, were included in the Farm Bill which passed Congress in December. These provisions encourage investment in the manufacturing facilities needed to produce mass timber products domestically, incentivize the construction of buildings with wood, and provide designers and code officials with the research and technical support they need to embrace this new construction technology.