NEFF to investigate new uses for New England wood products

LITTLETON, May 18, 2016- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service has awarded a Wood Innovations Grant to New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) in Littleton, MA to analyze the potential for manufacturing engineered wood products in New England. The study will set the stage for expanded local production of wood products that are being used to revolutionize construction around the world.

Wood construction can be an important strategy in mitigating climate change and could also reduce construction costs, all while revitalizing New England forests. A 2015 study by Yale University professor Chadwick Oliver and colleagues found that using more sustainably produced wood in construction could reduce global carbon emissions by up to 31 percent.

“Renewable products like wood from New England forests are crucial to a sustainable future for our region,” said Monty Lovejoy, a member of NEFF’s Board of Directors and chairman of its Build It With Wood committee.

NEFF will use the USDA funding to analyze demand for engineered wood products and the suitability of local wood for use in such products. The grant will also identify the potential return on investment associated with the development of a mill. This investment analysis would inform public and private initiatives aimed at fostering construction of such a mill, which could then serve to reduce the cost of wood construction in major Northeast markets such as Boston or New York, while simultaneously improving forest health in the region’s abundant woodlands.

Of the 42 Wood Innovations Grants issued, NEFF was the sole recipient in Massachusetts and one of only four in New England. Grants are awarded to projects focused on expanding markets for wood products and wood energy.

The analysis funded by the grant is part of NEFF’s Build It With Wood project. Build It With Wood aims to expand the use of wood building materials in long-lasting infrastructure and increase the use of renewable and sustainable wood products. “We see Build It With Wood as a crucial part of our region’s response to a diverse set of challenges— declining forest health, a need for more affordable housing, and the ever present challenge of climate change,” said NEFF Executive Director Bob Perschel. “This grant is a key step forward.”

Founded in 1944, NEFF pursues innovative programs to advance conservation and forestry throughout New England. Through private ownership and partnership with land owners, NEFF has conserved more than 1.1 million acres of forest, including one out of every three acres of forestland protected in New England since 1999. For more information, please call 978.952.6856 or visit newenglandforestry.org.

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