Madison Paper Industries workers leaving the plant in March 2016. The plant closed in May of that year. Credit: Ashley L. Conti | BDN

GO Lab, a building products manufacturer in Belfast, said it received a $250,000 award from the U.S. Forest Service to make wood fiber insulation at the former Madison Paper Industries mill, which closed in 2016.

The company said it would use the Wood Innovation Grant to make wood fiber insulation from softwood chips that will be renewable, recyclable, nontoxic and perform as well or better than products now on the market.

“This is not as dangerous for firefighters as carbon-based insulation,” Matt O’Malia, a partner in GO Logic, the parent of GO Lab, told a meeting of the Maine Real Estate and Development Association last Tuesday. Go Logic built the state’s first passive home, which generates enough energy to offset the amount it uses.

“We’ll start wood fiber insulation production next year in Madison,” he said. “We’ll employ 110 people.” GO Lab said the annual revenue will be about $70 million.

The company said its production facility, to be located at the former paper mill in Madison, will consume 180,000 tons of softwood chips annually.

The forest service grant will let GO Lab test its wood fiber boards, batts

and blown-in insulation products.

The company in April also won a $750,000 Emerging Technology grant from the Maine Technology Institute to develop the insulation.

The grant also will support marketing efforts to help educate customers on

how GO Lab’s products fit with U.S. building codes.

During the past decade, low harvest rates, aging forests, mortality from insect and disease infestations and extreme weather have created conditions that fuel catastrophic wildfires, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The service’s Wood Innovation Grant program aims to support the development of consumer products that use the excess forest material that fuels wildfires.

“Public–private partnerships supported by investments in wood innovations are key to managing wildfire risk and supporting healthy forests,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.