Kelowna adopts 12-storey wood construction

Monday, September 2, 2019

The City of Kelowna is participating in B.C.’s Early Adoption initiative that would allow wood frame buildings, currently capped at six storeys, to be built up to 12 storeys tall.

With provincial and national building codes set to change in the next three years, the city is being proactive.

“We’re excited to see Kelowna leading innovations in the construction industry,” said Mo Bayat, development services director. “Because many of the components are pre-assembled in mass timber it translates to a much faster build with less disruption to the neighbourhood.”

According to the city, mass timber buildings can be one-fifth the weight of comparable concrete buildings, while still meeting performance standards for safety, structural resilience and fire protection.

They encourage innovation through value-added wood products, helping to grow local and global markets, while promoting climate-friendly construction and supporting B.C’s forest-dependent communities. Other benefits can include construction cost-savings as well as ease and quality of assembly.

“Given the economies of scale with steel or concrete these buildings tend to be high-rises,” said Bayat. “Allowing for taller wood construction creates more flexibility for housing forms and types, particularly in infill projects.”

This is not the first time Kelowna has been a pioneer in wood-frame construction. In 2009, Ellis Court became the first wood framed building in B.C. to rise above four-storeys.

B.C. is the first province to allow 12-storey mass timber buildings. The national building code is expected to be revised to increase height limits to 12 storeys in 2020.

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