Kilmer Calls on Key Federal Agencies to Use Innovative Building Materials at Construction Sites
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) called on key agencies to increase their use of innovative building materials at federal construction sites. In a letter to the Secretaries of the Defense and Agriculture Departments, Kilmer asked for an update on report language he authored in an appropriations bill this year that directed the two agencies to work together to use materials such as Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) more frequently.
The use of CLT products could help reduce future building costs, improve environmental impact, strengthen structures in the face of seismic disturbances, and provide needed opportunities to strengthen our nation’s timber industry. A number of public and private entities in the Pacific Northwest are exploring how to make the best use of local resources, a skilled workforce, and mill infrastructure to develop and produce environmentally friendly, sustainable, and durable CLT products that can create jobs in local communities.
Kilmer wrote in the letter sent yesterday: “With your help, we can assist timber communities like those in rural Northwest Washington develop economically and further demonstrate the military community’s interest in protecting the environment. Please consider me a partner in this effort.”
Kilmer also noted the potential impact of CLT to regions like the Olympic Peninsula: “Hailing from Washington state, I appreciate the economic and moral benefits that innovative building methods and materials present. Researching and incorporating materials like Cross Laminated Timber can spur economic development in rural communities by fostering infrastructure investments and long-term jobs. Utilizing innovative building technologies could help guard against seismic risk and reduced impact to critical and endangered habitats.”
Kilmer has been a leader in pushing for the wider use of CLT products. Earlier this year, Kilmer authored report language in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill directing the Department of Defense to collaborate with the Department of Agriculture to use CLT materials for construction projects. In 2014, Kilmer brought together academic, environmental, and industry leaders at the University of Washington Tacoma to discuss how CLT products can become more widely adopted at building sites in Washington state and across the country.
The full text of the letter follows.
The Honorable Dr. Ashton Carter The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Department of Defense Department of Agriculture
1000 Defense Pentagon, Room 3E880 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 200-A
Washington, DC 20301-1000 Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretaries Carter and Vilsack,
Thank you both for being responsible stewards of the taxpayer’s money and for championing environmental protection. I am sure you agree that both efforts are not mutually exclusive and are in fact imperative to successful governance.
Throughout the past several years, the use of innovative building techniques, materials, and designs has expanded greatly. Our friends and allies in Europe and Canada have led the charge in incorporating these innovative approaches into construction to save time, money, and to reduce environmental impacts. The benefits of utilizing these methodologies and materials conform with the goals of your departments and the White House Rural Council.
Hailing from Washington state, I appreciate the economic and moral benefits that innovative building methods and materials present. Researching and incorporating materials like Cross Laminated Timber can spur economic development in rural communities by fostering infrastructure investments and long-term jobs. Utilizing innovative building technologies could help guard against seismic risk and reduced impact to critical and endangered habitats. Moreover, as a member of the House Committee on Appropriations I am excited about the prospect for reduced construction and total ownership costs of federal facilities. What is especially great is the fact that these benefits are not unique solely to my neck of the woods; they apply to a great portion of our nation.
During consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related agencies Appropriations bill, the Committee adopted report language that I drafted encouraging the Department of Defense to increase the use of innovative renewable building materials, systems, and design techniques in construction. It directed the Department to work with the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture to expand the Department’s understanding of these approaches and to collaborate on a plan to expand their use. Specifically, the report accompanying the bill states:
“The Committee notes that in March 2013, the Department of Defense released Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) 1-200-02, High Performance and Sustainable Building Requirements. UFC 1-200-02 defines the minimum requirements for planning, design and construction, renovation, repair, maintenance and operations, and equipment installation in new and existing facilities. In a policy memorandum issued on November 2013, military components were authorized to pursue greater energy and water efficiency if such initiatives are shown to reduce total ownership cost of the facility, or preserve or increase mission effectiveness in the face of projected resource scarcity. The Committee regrets that the Department of Defense has done little to increase the use of innovative building materials following the including of similar language in the report accompanying the Howard P. Buck McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, H.R. 4435. The Committee recognizes that innovative technologies have expanded the availability of materials with lower embodied energy for facilities that require tall walls and large open spaces with minimal intermediate supports. In addition, design techniques such as advanced framing contribute to lower material costs, increased energy efficiency, and reduced waste in facilities. Therefore, the Committee encourages the Department of Defense to incorporate the use of innovative renewable building materials, systems, and design techniques that support the requirements of UFC 1-200-02 and the goals of achieving greater efficiency and lower environmental impacts at a lower material cost. Furthermore, the Committee encourages the Department of Defense to collaborate with the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Forest Service to advance its understanding of innovative renewable building materials and systems and jointly develop a plan on expanding their use as appropriate.”
Given the Committee’s direction, I am interested in understanding what steps your departments have taken to accommodate this interest. I would be grateful if I could jointly meet with representatives of your departments to discuss your plans for increasing the use of innovative building materials, designs, and specifications going forward.
The time has come to harness the power of the Department of Defense’s purse strings to invigorate this emerging industry. With your help, we can assist timber communities like those in rural Northwest Washington develop economically and further demonstrate the military community’s interest in protecting the environment. Please consider me a partner in this effort. I look forward to working with you.
Member of Congress