Antigo business owner pushes for timber high-rise buildings

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Troy Brown wants to reshape the skylines of American cities, and he says the U.S. is lagging behind other countries in using wood to build tall buildings. "There's taller buildings that are built in Europe with cross-laminated timber," says Troy Brown, President, Kretz Lumber Co. He runs a lumber company based in Antigo. Brown says if the U.S. can catch up to Europe's tall wood buildings, it will help people in his region because he says that "Wisconsin has 17 million acres of timberland." And Brown says that "we've got all resources that's available to satisfy any demand that would be out there for it."

The American Wood Council tells us wood buildings are better for the environment, faster to build, and potentially cheaper than concrete and steel buildings. A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to explore constructing wood buildings 85 feet and taller. They sponsored a bill, The Timber Innovation Act, that directs the Department of Agriculture to use existing money to research and market that possibility.

"When we have new uses for timber, that means we use more timber, which means we have more jobs in our communities."

The National Ready Mix Concrete Association opposes the bill. "It will take jobs away from our industry," says Kerri Leininger, the group's lobbyist. Leininger says the concrete and steel industries would lose opportunities to build. "It is not congress' role to specifically put a product in a certain area or segment of the industry. And It's certainly not congress' role to specify that product over all others," she says.

Lawmakers who are co-sponsoring the Timber Innovation Act want this legislation included in the new Farm Bill. They give it 50-50 chance of passing by the end of the year.