House Armed Services Committee Approves Mass Timber Pilot Program
Congress is completing the front end of a two week Congressional recess. Before leaving town late last week, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) adopted an amendment authorizing a mass timber pilot program while marking up the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The term “mass timber” includes the suite of innovative wood building products that includes cross laminated timber—a product that architects and building designers are finding more attractive given wood’s superior carbon sequestering properties and ease of use on the job site. The pilot program directs the Secretary of each military department to carry out a program to evaluate the use of mass timber as the primary construction material in military construction projects and its effect on environmental sustainability, infrastructure resilience, cost effectiveness, and construction timeliness of similar projects. The amendment was proposed by Reps. Austin Scott (R-GA), Jared Golden (D-ME), Rick Larsen (D-WA), and Trent Kelly (R-MS).
While there was opposition from one member during markup, Readiness Subcommittee Chair John Garamendi (D-CA) expressed support for the pilot program, thus helping clear any final hurdles in markup. “This mass timber material is used in many different construction activities common throughout the United States and most states do allow it, it’s just not common in the military,” Garamendi said. “But it is a very useful material, and it ought to be made available for military construction wherever it might be. The fact we must go through a pilot program to do what the commercial sector already does seem a bit foolish, but I suppose we must start somewhere.”
Additionally, the amendment directs the pilot program to be conducted at military installations in the US that are identified as vulnerable to extreme weather events. Such a pilot program has tremendous prospects for DOD to signal market opportunities for domestic mass timber manufacturing, both current and future. The full House will consider the measure sometime after the July Fourth recess.