Washington, DC and Ottawa, ON – The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) was recently named as a recipient of a $249,108 Wood Innovations Grant from the USDA Forest Service. The aim of the grant program is to expand the use of climate-smart wood products, strengthen emerging wood markets, and support active management to improve forest health and resilience.
A conceptual illustration of an A1X Automation building planned for the larger St. Paul (Minnesota) Port Authority’s The Heights neighborhood redevelopment site.
The grant will help SFI and its partners tell the story of how building with wood procured from responsibly managed forests provides numerous benefits in and beyond the forest. Project partner A1X Automation, a provider of automation engineering and machine development, has proposed the construction of an industrial building using mass timber products. The building will serve as the anchor project within the larger St. Paul (Minnesota) Port Authority’s The Heights neighborhood redevelopment site, which is aiming to be the first pre-certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Communities Platinum project in the nation.
SFI and project partner Ecotone Analytics will quantify the social and environmental benefits related to A1X’s sourcing of forest products and widely communicate and promote project results through numerous communication channels.
“This project helps SFI and its partners demonstrate the importance of wood products sourced from well-managed, sustainable forests not only in climate-smart green buildings, but also in revitalizing the health and vitality of urban communities,” said Annie Perkins, SFI Senior Director, Green Building and Supply Chain. “Using SFI-certified mass timber supports forest health, wildfire resilience, clean water, wildlife habitat, workforce development, and so much more.”
SFI and Ecotone will model the projected social benefits associated with constructing the A1X industrial building with mass timber products sourced from responsibly managed U.S. forests. The otherwise intangible social benefits of wood procured from responsibly managed forests have historically been unaccounted for, as there is no commonly accepted way to quantify their impact in financial forecasts. This project offers a solution by delivering a social impact valuation toolkit that provides tangible return-on-investment (ROI) information to investors.
“The result of our engagement in the project will include the range of outcomes and stakeholder value uncovered by our analysis,” said, Ecotone Director of Environment Jeff Standish. “The choices of inputs—people and materials, costs, scale—will be combined with the range of marginal outcomes—social and environmental benefits—in a way that can be used by other project developers to estimate the social and environmental values that would be created using similar techniques and materials.”
“Wood innovation and community wood grants projects like these show us how we can tackle problems like the wildfire crisis and climate change while creating new markets, supporting jobs, building affordable housing and improving conditions on our forests at the same time,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in announcing the grant recipients. “Removing hazardous trees that would otherwise threaten wildfire-prone communities and having rural, forest-based economies turn those materials into renewable building and energy products, stand as examples of how a clean energy economy is within reach.”