The TallWood Design Institute, housed at the OSU College of Forestry, is a founding member of The Oregon Mass Timber Coalition (OMTC)—a partnership working to create a holistic vision for solving some of Oregon’s most pressing issues in forest health, affordable/sustainable housing and workforce development.  

In September 2022, the White House announced the coalition will receive $41.4 million in funding from the U.S Economic Development Build Back Better Regional Challenge to invest in the future of Oregon’s forests, mass timber industry and sustainable built environment through restoration initiatives, local manufacturing infrastructure, research and development and affordable modular housing production. 

Of the $41.4 million award, approximately $24.5M will flow to Oregon State University and University of Oregon to fund mass timber research and development, smart forestry initiatives and two new research facilities: the Oregon Acoustic Research Lab at University of Oregon, and the Oregon Fire Testing Facility at Oregon State. Oregon’s University Innovation Research Fund will contribute an additional $6M to the effort.

“Research and development has served as a critical tool in advancing timber in the built environment,” said Iain Macdonald, Director of Tallwood Design Institute. “The Oregon fire testing facility at Oregon State will help bolster the university and the region as a mass timber research and development hub.”

Forest engineering and resources management professor Woodam Chung is leading some of the research and development efforts. His smart forestry initiative aims to create a more resilient Oregon using data-driven forest restoration treatments with an emphasis on removing small diameter logs to increase fire resiliency, innovative technologies to increase forest workers’ health and safety, and workforce education to transform rural economies. According to Chung, forest restoration faces challenges from labor shortage, dangerous and outdated forest practices, and low-value wood.

“Innovative technology solutions are key to successful forest restoration projects to improve the resiliency of forests and forest-dependent rural communities,” said Chung. “ High quality forest inventory and wood procurement mapping will facilitate data-driven decision making for maximum benefits of forest restoration. Value-added wood products and improved efficiency of wood supply will enhance the economic viability of forest restoration projects. And finally innovative education, well-paying modern job opportunities and improved logging technology will support local forest industries, rural communities and improve forest workers’ health and safety.”

Tallwood Design Institute will also utilize the funds to help manufacturers and designers fabricate, prototype and test mass timber housing solutions with an emphasis on design that uses small-diameter logs. Mass timber is a sustainable substitute for carbon intensive materials and building systems and is an affordable, quality and energy efficient option for modular and affordable housing. Read more about the project!

This story is part of the College of Forestry 2022 Fall Update – learn more about our research, new hires, and outreach.

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