Lumber and construction industry associations voiced their concerns over the Southern Pine Inspection Board's (SPIB) proposed change in design value at a hearing before the American Lumber Standards Committee's (ALSC) Board of Review on Oct. 20.

Prior to the meeting, the board announced it would defer any decision regarding the proposal until after a second hearing, scheduled for roughly 60 days after the first, was held. The hearing brought out representatives from the Structural Building Components Association (SBCA), the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), Mississippi State University, the National Association of Homebuilders, and Leading Builders of America.

The proposal seeks to lower the design values for Southern pine, which includes the load values of the wood. The ALSC is the agency responsible for the publication of performance standards for lumber.

A presentation by Rubin Shmulsky, a professor at Mississippi State University's Forest and Wildlife Research Center, helped to explain why the SPIB was looking to improve the standards due to the increased use of tree farms and plantations growing Southern Pine. In its update following the meeting, the NLBMDA said the presentation showed evidence that the reduction in performance of the pine was due to a shorter growing cycle, due to plantation growing, and that a decrease in values was not needed.

The NLBMDA also called for a phase-in of the changes, while the proposal wants to make them immediate. The association wants the ALSC to provide a clear "roadmap" for Southern pine and all species of wood under review so those in the supply chain can prepare for any changes.

The SBCA said it will use the 60 days before the next hearing to analyze and review the data and information provided by the SPIB. The association also suggested the need for a well defined design value implementation plan that will educate end-users about what grades and values they should use.

"This 60-day comment period will afford all parties time to consider all available data, all technical issues related to the science behind these proposed new values and help the ALSC Board of Review to render some equitable decision in the near future," said Adrian Blocker, president of the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA), the marketing organization for Southern pine lumber. The SFPA has written a Q&A summary of the proposal, plus has a news release with more background information on the proposal on its website.