EUGENE, Ore. — Timber has always been a big part of Oregon's past, and now thanks to a federal grant, it's likely to play an equally important role in the state's future.
Oregon State University and the University of Oregon are both set to receive millions of dollars towards timber research as part of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration.
The two universities will receive about $24.6 million through a joint initiative called the TallWood Design Institute, with more than $16 million going to the University of Oregon and about $8 million going to Oregon State University.
"This funding will allow us to do to three-story mock-ups of these types of retrofit buildings, which will tell us more about how they work and how much they cost," said Judith Sheine, a professor with the architecture department at the University of Oregon.
TallWood Design is part of the Oregon Mass Timber Coalition, a collaborative effort to support Oregon's timber industry, which also includes the Port of Portland, Business Oregon, the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Department of Land Conservation and Development.
The money for the two universities comes from an overall $41.4 million grant to the coalition. The funding will allow both schools to be leaders in the industry, Sheine said, especially when it comes to building affordable housing.
"What we’re working on for the affordable housing is a panelized approach where we would have mass timber panels that would have water proofing, and being able to assemble them in a certain location," she said.
Nearly $15 million of the university money from the grant will go toward the Oregon Acoustic Research Laboratory at the University of Oregon, and $2 million will be put toward affordable housing prototyping.
The grant will also allow university staff to do more research that will hopefully create more jobs for the timber industry, Sheine said.
Mass timber is a type of engineered wood that binds together multiple sheets of wood. The resulting product is stronger than conventional wood and can be used to build larger and taller structures.