Wooden federal buildings? Senate bill seeks to boost timber.

By Marc Heller | 04/19/2024 06:42 AM EDT

Another Senate bill would have EPA assess life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from biomass electricity production.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on May 18, 2023.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is joining Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) to promote wood in building construction. Francis Chung/POLITICO

The federal government could give preference to contractors who use wood as their primary material in construction of public buildings, if a bipartisan bill proposed by Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon becomes law.

Merkley, a Democrat, proposed the “Mass Timber Federal Buildings Act,” S. 4149, to favor the use of “mass timber” in construction of federal buildings, including on military installations.

The bill’s introduction follows comments Merkley made on the topic at a hearing last week with Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. The Democrat introduced the bill with Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho).


Mass timber is comprised of panels of wood that are nailed or glued together in a way that gives the product load-bearing capabilities. The tallest mass timber building in the world is 25 stories in Milwaukee.