WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cees de Jager, executive director of the Binational Softwood Lumber Council, applauded the Obama Administration's focus on the environmental and jobs benefits of using wood in taller buildings during the "White House Rural Council Workshop Building with Wood: Jobs and the Environment” held March 18.

Announcements by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and the White House Rural Council to provide $1,000,000 in funding for WoodWorks (www.woodworks.org) and $1,000,000 in funding for a tall wood building competition will accelerate technology transfer and implementation of expanded uses of wood products for building construction in the U.S.

De Jager said, "Secretary Vilsack's leadership is a win for both the environment and the economy – these projects will support the creation of many new jobs in rural communities, stimulate U.S. manufacturing innovation, and lower the construction costs and environmental impact of buildings."

The use of wood for taller wood buildings is becoming increasingly common in Canada, Europe, the U.K. and Australia because they store carbon, save on energy costs and reduce the overall cost of construction. In support of the USDA's efforts, the Binational Softwood Lumber Council today announced its intent to provide an additional $1,000,000 to support the construction of a tall wood building. "We look forward to partnering with the USDA on these initiatives to accelerate the expanded use of wood-based building systems in the U.S.," de Jager added.

Across the U.S., wood product businesses support more than one million jobs and provide billions in economic growth in rural communities. A typical wood-frame house stores enough tons of carbon to offset seven years of emissions from an average car. Sustainably-managed forests ensure that the carbon-absorbing role of forests is preserved. With strong wood products markets, forest owners are able to keep their forests as forests, which preserves habitat for fish and wildlife and protects water quality.

The Binational Softwood Lumber Council, a non-profit organization, was established in 2006 by the Canadian and U.S. Governments. The Council is leading the effort to increase the use of wood products as part of the shift to green building. Sustainably-harvested wood products from North America create jobs in rural communities, sequester significant amounts of carbon and help reduce the overall environmental footprint of a home or building. The council's effort includes initiatives that bring together expertise from various disciplines to promote the use of North American wood products in green building. It is an excellent example of the Council's ability to bring together landowners, private businesses and government agencies from Canada and the U.S. to achieve a common goal.