April 16, 2024

The BC Building Code changes for mass timber were developed by a national joint task group co-chaired by B.C. and Quebec

BRITISH COLUMBIA – Updates to the BC Building Code will benefit people in the building and housing sectors with the expanded use of mass timber in taller buildings, as well as schools, libraries and retail.

The Province is adopting building-code changes to permit the use of mass timber in buildings, such as schools, shopping centres and housing, so they can be built faster and more sustainably.

The mass-timber updates to the BC Building Code, now in effect, will:

  • enable taller encapsulated mass-timber construction (EMTC) buildings with as many as 18 storeys for residential and office buildings, an increase from the previous 12-storey limit;
  • expand EMTC to new building types, such as schools, libraries, retail, light- and medium-industrial occupancies, and care facilities; and
  • allow for more exposed mass timber in buildings, based on a building’s height and use, such as residential buildings with as many as eight storeys.

The BC Building Code changes for mass timber were developed by a national joint task group co-chaired by B.C. and Quebec. The code changes were reviewed by an expert technical advisory group that included representatives from multiple provinces, the fire services community, fire safety engineers, technical building code experts, regulators and industry.

Other provinces are expected to follow B.C.’s lead and adopt these changes into their building codes. The code changes will be submitted into the national code system for future consideration for the national building codes.

“Mass-timber construction is an important tool to build attainable, low-carbon and climate resilient homes and buildings. These reforms will give communities more building options while creating great jobs for British Columbians across the mass-timber supply chain,” said Mike Moffatt, senior director, policy and innovation of the Smart Prosperity Institute.

Advancing mass-timber technology is part of the Province’s Homes for People action plan, to address the housing crisis through a variety of innovative approaches, including in the construction sector. This means embracing new technologies like digital design, mass timber and prefabrication to cut down on construction times and on-site labour needs to build more housing faster.

The Province has also focused on increased density in urban areas through small-scale multi-unit housing and transit-oriented development, creating more mass-timber opportunities to build homes more quickly with a lower carbon footprint.

“The Canadian Wood Council applauds B.C.’s code leadership. These expanded provisions for mass timber will enhance the innovation already happening in the province, offering designers, developers and municipalities the opportunity to pursue high-performance, low-carbon wood construction in a wider range of buildings. The 18-storey EMTC provisions have tremendous potential to strengthen the B.C. economy by using B.C. forest products and workers to build much-needed affordable housing,” said Rick Jeffrey, president and CEO of the Canadian Wood Council.

Source: Province of BC

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