America's Leading Wood Building Products Companies Pledge to Help Haiti Rebuild Stronger, Safer Buildings

Feb 03, 2010
Group Calls on Federal Officials to Focus Reconstruction on Earthquake-Resistant Wood Instead of Less-Resistant Materials
WASHINGTON – Today the American Wood Council, a trade group comprised of America’s leading wood building products companies, pledged its assistance to help Haiti rebuild safer, more earthquake-resistant buildings in the wake of its recent devastating earthquake. AWC also offered its technical expertise to U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as reconstruction plans are developed and urged her to help prevent a recurrence of the devastation by focusing on building materials and methods that can effectively resist earthquakes, such as wood.

“The devastation we’ve seen is so complete, and the human suffering is so severe that it’s difficult to look at. I can’t comprehend how difficult it must be for those who have and continue to suffer through this tragedy. Lessening the effects of a future earthquake in Haiti means helping the country rebuild with smarter materials and building methods than those employed in the past, and that means utilizing wood,” said AWC’s Robert Glowinski.

“Much of the severe devastation we’ve seen is from collapsed, older unreinforced concrete and masonry structures and could have been prevented if these structures had been built from wood. Unfortunately, unreinforced or lightly reinforced concrete and masonry structures can’t dissipate seismic energy or provide ductility under earthquake loads the way wood construction can. A recent full-scale test in Japan demonstrated that a six-story wood apartment building can withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake— considerably more severe than the one that struck Haiti,” Glowinski added. A video of the test can be seen ​here: "What resources are available for wood construction in high seismic areas and why build with wood in earthquake-prone areas?"

In addition to the critical structural capability wood provides, wood’s renewability, low life-cycle environmental impacts, and ability to sequester carbon provides the optimal combination of green building and stability for earthquake-prone areas. Additionally, as compared to other construction materials, wood is also more affordable to transport and easier to handle on-site.

AWC publishes the construction industry’s authoritative ANSI-accredited standards for wood construction, including standards for building with wood in earthquake-prone areas. AWC pledged to provide its earthquake construction guides to U.S. and Haitian reconstruction officials free of charges, as well as to make its construction engineers available at no cost to provide technical advice to those helping to rebuild the country.

Also, in a letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, AWC chairman Marc Brinkmeyer made AWC’s building expertise available to U.S. government officials as plans are developed to help the country rebuild. A copy of the letter is attached to this press release. For more information on AWC, visit