Home National housing Oregon’s lumber industry gets a boost from the federal government

Oregon’s lumber industry gets a boost from the federal government

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A rendering of Terminal 2 at the Port of Portland, which will be redeveloped into a mass timber manufacturing facility. The Oregon Mass Timber Coalition will receive more than $41 million to support industry expansion.

Courtesy of Portland Harbor

The Oregon Mass Timber Coalition will receive more than $41 million from the Biden administration to expand the use of mass timber in housing — especially affordable housing that could help ease the housing crisis in Oregon. State.

“This is a very big win for the state,” said Keith Leavitt, director of trade and fair development for the Portland Port, which is part of the group. “This competition was fierce.”

The competitive grant was awarded as part of the regional Build Back Better Challenge, part of President Biden’s US bailout. The mass lumber coalition includes state agencies and Oregon’s top research universities, in addition to the port.

Solid wood is a general term describing engineered wood products made by bonding layers of wood together to form solid wood panels or beams. Proponents say it’s strong enough to replace steel in multi-story buildings.

The port embraced mass timber, which it used to build a nine-acre timber roof for Portland International Airport’s renovated main terminal.

Now the port wants to build a factory that would mass-produce affordable housing – using solid wood.

“We will be able to bring more prefab housing — up to 2,000 homes a year — to market,” Leavitt said.

To that end, the port is redeveloping its 50-acre Terminal 2 into a mass timber manufacturing center. He plans to use part of the new grant for infrastructure development at the site. A private operator would run the future factory, selling prefabricated log homes at an affordable price to low- and middle-income customers.

The grant also contains funds for a fire test facility at Oregon State University and an acoustics research laboratory at the University of Oregon, which would be housed at the port. This installation would test how sound travels through solid wood structures. This is necessary to promote widespread acceptance of hardwood housing, said Anshuman Razdan, OU vice president for research and innovation.

“You don’t want to live in these manufactured homes,” he said, “and hear everything that’s going on outside the house.”

The Oregon Mass Timber Coalition says it will work with Sustainable Northwest and the Oregon Department of Forestry to develop criteria to ensure it uses sustainably harvested timber. The grant includes money for reforestation projects in the Willamette National Forest.

Razdan said the project’s economic impact is expected to extend beyond housing.

“There has been a 50-year decline in timber-related employment in rural communities,” he said. If solid wood can gain traction in housing, “there will be manufacturing-related jobs that will be created between the forest and prefabrication plants, hopefully across the state.”