Alberta will now allow wood-building construction for up to 12 storeys. While other jurisdictions in Canada, like British Columbia, currently allow for 12-storey wood construction, Alberta will become the first province in Canada to allow the practice provincewide.
“We made this change knowing that mass timber products are safe and that these buildings will meet all necessary standards,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu.
Current Alberta and national building codes allow wood-building construction for up to six storeys, but the next edition of the National Building will allow for the use of tall wood construction with fire-resistant material for up to 12 storeys.
The encapsulated mass-timber construction component of the 2020 National Building Code has already been reviewed by the National Building Code committees and fire-safety specialists, structural engineers, architects, scientists, and builders. The next edition is expected to be published at the end of 2020.
Alberta will issue a notice – based on technical provisions developed for the next edition of the National Building Code – to allow early use of tall wood or mass timber construction for up to 12 storeys using fire-resistant material in time for the upcoming construction season.
Advancements in fire-protection and wood-product technology are allowing for the construction of taller wood buildings without compromising safety.
The building codes will require tall wood buildings to be built as encapsulated mass timber construction, where the solid or engineered wood has been surrounded by fire-resistive material. Buildings of mass timber construction will also be fully sprinklered.
Taller buildings constructed with engineered wood exist in Vancouver, the United States and Europe.