BRITISH COLUMBIA - Cement industry executives are speaking out against a new allowance in British Columbia that allows construction of mass timber buildings up to 12 stories tall.
 
The Cement Association of Canada (CAC), which represents all Canadian cement producers, has accused British Columbia of putting residents at risk of earthquake injury, as it says there are no approved seismic design specifications for 12-story cross-laminated timber buildings. 
 
“While the B.C. government’s intent to increase market share for B.C. wood products is understandable, and while the Cement Association supports the (John) Horgan government’s actions to address a severe affordable housing situation, allowing municipalities to approve 12-storey encapsulated mass timber construction in the absence of approved seismic specifications for this form of construction is premature,” said Michael McSweeney, CAC president, in press release. “These discussions are currently ongoing and no decision or recommendations for the use of encapsulated mass timber construction has been made by the NBCC. Canada’s codes and standards system is the envy of the world and all governments should support the development of rigorous codes that hold the trust of the people and protect its citizens.”
 
The CAC also said that the ruling will not create jobs. It will only shift them around.
 
“In the majority of towns where we see lumber mills, we also see sand pits, quarries and ready mixed concrete plants, so the government’s action is simply ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul,’ shifting jobs, rather than creating new ones,” said McSweeney. “Governments should not be in the business of picking ‘winners or losers’ over competing building materials.”
 
Everyone else seems to be on board with cross-laminated timber (CLT). CLT buildings are faster to construct, more energy efficient, and comprised completely from renewable materials. Wood products have been an integral part of construction for centuries, but most wood buildings do not exceed three to four stories in height. With recent developments in wood products engineering, alongside other new technologies, it is now possible to expand the use of wood into larger construction projects.
 
In late 2018, the Washington State Building Code Council announced a revision to the state’s building codes to allow for expedited permitting of buildings made of CLT. Specifically, the Washington building code will now allow for wooden buildings up to 18 stories tall. 
 
The Timber Innovation Act is also in effect in the U.S., which incentivizes mass timber construction.

 

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