The federal government has announced building code changes that will come into effect in 2020, allowing for the construction of taller wood buildings up to 12 storeys. Currently, the height limit across Canada for wood buildings is 6 storeys.
With the 2020 National Building Code and the next BC Building Code, developers will be permitted to construct buildings up to 12 storeys using mass timber technology. With mass timber buildings, the primary load-bearing structure is composed of solid or engineered wood. Large wood panels used for walls, floors and roofs are prefabricated in a plant and assembled on site. This way, mass timber projects complete faster and require 90% less construction traffic.
Contrary to popular belief, mass timber buildings are fire resistant. When exposed to fire, the outer layer chars and acts as a protective coating, insulating the wood underneath. Additionally, the lightweight nature of mass timber, weighing approximately one fifth of equivalent concrete buildings, allows for smaller foundations and seismic resistance.
The environmental benefits also make mass timber an attractive construction method for the future. The use of renewable and sustainable resources, rather than fossil-fuel intensive materials, means a significantly reduced carbon footprint.
BC will be the first province to allow wood buildings up to 12 storeys, ahead of the National Building Code. Currently, the province is already home to Brock Commons, a student residence tower at the University of British Columbia, the world’s tallest mass-timber building at 18 storeys.
Please see the provincial government's official news release for more details.
Please contact a CapriCMW Risk Advisor for information and resources on construction insurance and risk management.