Steve Marshall, Forest Service recognized for sustainable building work

WASHINGTON, DC—Cooperative Forestry assistant director Steve Marshall was recognized for the work of USDA Forest Service’s wood innovations team and its effect on the wood building sector. He accepted the Dean’s Medal from the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

The prestigious medal is awarded annually in recognition of the recipient’s significant contributions to the architecture and design culture of the state of Arkansas, as well as to students and their education at the Fay Jones School.

Steve Marshall speaking to a university of Arkansas audience.
Steve Marshall, USDA Forest Service, accepting the University of Arkansas Dean's Medal on behalf of the Cooperative Forestry wood innovations team. Photo courtesy Chieko Hara, University of Arkansas University Relations.

Marshall, who retires this month, leads the agency’s wood innovations team. That team has played a key role in revolutionizing the United States building sector by helping introduce mass timber products such as cross-laminated timber. A strong mass timber market can help increase the pace and scale of hazardous fuel reductions in forests across America, including the National Forest System, by fostering a financial incentive to harvest overstocked stands of timber that might otherwise help fuel forest fires.

“When we started our national focus on mass timber in 2013, you could count the number of buildings in the U.S. using cross-laminated timber on the fingers of one hand,” said Marshall. “Today we have 10 new factories up in production and more coming.”

In part as a result of the efforts of the agency’s wood innovations team, hundreds of mass timber buildings have been completed across the country, and thousands of architects, engineers and developers are being trained in the use of these materials. Building codes have been modified to facilitate the use of mass timber in communities.

“We will soon be seeing thousands of buildings using these sustainable technologies that the Forest Service has helped introduce to the U.S.,” said Marshall.

Among other indicators of success, StructureLam, a Canadian manufacturer of cross-laminated timber, Glulam beams, industrial matting and other mass timber solutions, recently announced plans to construct a $90 million cross-laminated timber factory that will supply the material needed to build a Walmart Headquarters in the state. Walmart has specifically credited the Forest Service wood innovations team, and Marshall personally, as playing a role in their decision to use cross-laminated timber in this major project.

After 41 years with the Forest Service, Marshall will join a cross-laminated timber producing company.