SOUTH CAROLINA — Continuing a trend that started last year in
Arkansas, the South Carolina Public School Facilities Committee voted
to change the SC School Facilities Manual to allow greater use of wood
in school construction in order to save money “while opening the door
to schools that are better for the environment and better for
learning,” according to a press release from WoodWorks Southeast,
a cooperative venture of major wood associations in North America, as
well as research organizations and government agencies. “It will also
allow the district to take advantage of a broader range of building
designs that meet the same high standards for safety and service life,”
the release adds.

“We congratulate the administration for
recognizing that the manual needed to change,” said Pat Schleisman, PE,
regional director of WoodWorks Southeast. “The previous policy was
based on some long-standing misperceptions, but as Arkansas recognized
last year when its prohibitive legislation was changed, wood offers a
lot of benefits, especially to school districts trying to cope with
decreasing budgets and increasing numbers of students.”

“Although
heavy timber construction was already permitted, the Committee adopted
the IBC (International Building Code) language allowing wood for Type
III and Type V Construction with no significant amendments,” said Bryan
Readling, PE, Senior Engineered Wood Specialist for APA – The
Engineered Wood Association. “This change is great for school
districts, which can now get more school for less money, and it’s also
great for the South Carolina economy which is heavily dependent on
forestry and wood manufacturing.”

In terms of cost savings, the
following examples were reported to APA for Arkansas schools originally
designed in steel or concrete and converted to wood framing following
the legislative change:
• Eldorado High School, 318,000 square feet: Wood framing saved $20 per square foot for a total savings of $6,360,000
• Newport Elementary School, 125,000 square feet: Wood framing saved $21 per square foot for a total of $2,625,000
• Fountain Lake Middle School, 48,000 square feet: Wood framing saved $40 per square foot for a total savings of $1,920,000 (Note: bidding took place before steel prices dropped)

Schleisman,
who worked with APA and the South Carolina Forestry Association to
demonstrate the advantages of wood schools, said, “We started this
process by taking a delegation from the Southeast on a tour of
California wood schools to let people see for themselves the kind of
warm and inviting learning environments that can be created while
providing all of these other benefits.”

WoodWorks offers a publication, “Designing Wood Schools,” available through its Web site.

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