With $41.4 million in funding from the federal “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” coming to the Oregon Mass Timber Coalition, a group of university researchers and state agencies in Oregon are seeing the potential of mass timber to help bridge the urban-rural divide.
The mass timber industry in Oregon hopes to resuscitate long-lost timber industry jobs, while at the same time the building materials may also boost affordable housing in the Portland metro area—all while helping to thin Oregon’s forests and make them less prone to wildfires.
Oregon’s mass timber proposal takes a multipronged approach to achieve these goals.
- First, a portion of the grant will go toward construction of a factory at the Port of Portland dedicated to building modular homes using engineered wooden beams and panels to address the city’s affordable housing crisis.
- The Terminal 2 hub will also include a new lab for the University of Oregon to study acoustical design of mass timber houses. Construction is expected to break ground in 2024.
- Another $24 million in grant funds will go to further research into the structural, seismic, durability, and energy performance of mass timber buildings, led by the TallWood Design Institute, a collaboration between UO and Oregon State University.
Iain Macdonald, the TallWood Design Institute’s director, said mass timber has already gained momentum in Oregon. He highlighted companies such as Freres Engineered Wood, makers of mass timber plywood panels used in buildings from the George W. Peavy Forest Science Center in Corvallis to the new roof installed last year at Portland International Airport.
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Mass timber coalition scores federal funding