BC extends mass timber use in tall buildings

April 11, 2024
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British Columbia sets a new precedent in sustainable architecture by incorporating mass timber into the construction of taller buildings, including residential areas, offices, schools, and shopping centers. This initiative, now backed by updated BC Building Code regulations, aims to enhance building efficiency and environmental friendliness.

The recent modifications allow for the construction of encapsulated mass-timber buildings up to 18 stories high, expanding the scope from the prior limit of 12 stories. This change also broadens the application of mass timber to include a variety of structures such as educational institutions, retail spaces, and healthcare facilities. Furthermore, the new regulations permit increased visibility of mass timber in buildings based on their height and purpose.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon emphasizes the multifaceted benefits of this move, highlighting its potential to reduce carbon emissions, bolster the forestry sector, generate employment, and facilitate the creation of vibrant communities through sustainable building practices.

The BC government, in collaboration with Quebec, led the development of these building code changes, which were meticulously reviewed by an expert advisory group representing various provinces and sectors. This collective effort underscores a national trend toward embracing mass timber, which is expected to be reflected in the building codes of other provinces and potentially integrated into Canada's national building codes.

This strategic push towards mass timber aligns with the Province's Homes for People action plan, addressing housing shortages through innovative construction methods that promise faster completion rates and reduced on-site labor requirements. By focusing on mass timber and other modern construction technologies, British Columbia aims to streamline housing development while minimizing environmental impact.