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  BC Increases Mass Timber Building's Max Height to 18 Stories
[Jan 12, 2024]

In a significant stride toward sustainable urban development, British Columbia¡¯s provincial government is poised to revolutionize its construction landscape by amending the BC Building Code. The proposed changes aim to substantially elevate the utilization of mass timber in high-rise buildings, marking a progressive shift towards environmentally conscious and innovative construction practices.

At present, provincial regulations limit mass timber buildings to a height of 12 storeys. However, the forthcoming amendments are set to amplify this threshold to 18 storeys, a remarkable 50% increase. This monumental decision is not only set to apply to residential buildings but also extends its reach to encompass office spaces, schools, shopping centers, and industrial facilities.

Ravi Kahlon, BC Minister of Housing, expressed enthusiasm for the proposed alterations, emphasizing their alignment with initiatives aimed at facilitating increased housing near transit hubs. Kahlon highlighted that the changes not only encourage taller buildings but also promote sustainability, reduce carbon emissions, bolster the forestry sector, generate employment opportunities, and pave the way for more vibrant and healthier communities.

¡°These proposed mass timber building code changes align with our recent work to deliver more homes near transit hubs by allowing taller buildings and more sustainable housing options near transit,¡± says Kahlon.

The forthcoming amendments also promise more flexibility in design, permitting increased exposure of mass timber or reduced encapsulation based on a building¡¯s height. Such tailored regulations showcase a keen understanding of safety standards while fostering innovation within the construction sector.

Hybrid designs, blending wood with concrete for foundational and core structural elements, underscore the province¡¯s commitment to seismic safety. This pragmatic approach ensures structural integrity while incorporating the environmental benefits and innovation associated with mass timber construction.

One crucial aspect emphasized in these proposed changes is the safety of mass timber buildings. Advocates and researchers assert that these structures do not pose a greater fire hazard compared to steel buildings. The charred wooden surfaces act as a protective layer, preserving the structural integrity beneath. Additionally, the prefabricated nature of these materials expedites construction timelines and ensures efficiency.

Moreover, the environmental advantages of embracing mass timber construction cannot be overstated. Reduced emissions, fewer construction truck trips, and shorter construction timelines align with the province¡¯s sustainability goals, signalling a paradigm shift in the construction industry.

Source:  settingmind.com