According to the BBC, U.K. government officials are considering new regulations on mass timber buildings. One of those restrictions would be capping a building's height at three to four stories.
The potential regulations have been prompted by fears of fire, particularly like the blaze that occurred at the country's Grenfell apartment building in 2017 - which killed 72 people.
Grenfell's fire is thought to have started after an insulation layer in the concrete tower's exterior aluminum cladding caught fire, causing flames to spread vertically on the outside of the building.
Mass timber construction, and more specifically cross-laminated timber (CLT), has recently taken off in most of Europe, the U.S., and Canada. The U.S. has issued the Timber Innovation Act, which provides grants for mass timber research. Canadian province Alberta has allowed the construction of mass timber buildings up to 12 stories tall. And France has made a law requiring all new public buildings to feature at least 50 percent timber by the year 2022.
The U.K. appears to be among the first Western countries to be hesitant.
The BBC reports that mass timber would still be allowed in floors, "but not along exterior walls."
The BBC writes that Grenfell has caused a chilling effect on the industry, and that the market has virtually dried up.
CLT is a prefabricated panel of wooden boards fastened together perpendicularly to one another, with structural adhesives. It is being hailed by environmentalists and many engineered wood firms have added it to their product lineups, as CLT buildings are faster to construct, more energy efficient, and are comprised completely of renewable materials.
Engineered wood leader Katerra recently opened a $150 million CLT operation in Washington - the largest of its kind in North America. Canadian cross-laminated timber pioneer Structurlam will invest $90 million into its first U.S. production facility in Arkansas. The facility's first customer will be Walmart, which will use 1.1 million cubic feet of CLT to build a brand new headquarters in the nearby Bentonville.
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