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B.C. building code to allow mass timber in buildings up to 18 storeys, up from 12

VANCOUVER — The use of mass timber in British Columbia is moving up and expanding to schools, libraries and other construction. 

The province says it’s making building-code changes allowing for the use of mass timber in buildings up to 18 storeys, an increase from the previous 12-storey limit. 

The expansion also includes building with mass timber for housing, retail, light and medium industrial construction and care facilities, as part of government efforts to streamline provincial housing permits and authorizations. 

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon says in a statement the changes will help reduce carbon pollution, support forestry, create jobs and build more homes. 

Mass timber, also known as engineered wood, can be used in place of steel or concrete, and is made of smaller wood connected with adhesives, dowels, nails or screws to create larger structural components. 

Jagrup Brar, minister of state for trade and chair of the Mass Timber Advisory Council, says the expansion helps diversify both the forestry and the construction industries.

“This is another step forward for British Columbia’s world-class mass-timber sector as we continue to accelerate the adoption of this strong, clean building technology,” Brar says in a news release. 

Betsy Agar, director of buildings at the clean energy think tank Pembina Institute, says the expansion to mass timber is a tangible solution to the twin challenges of housing affordability and the climate crisis being delivered through the B.C. Building Code. 

“Embracing the expansion of mass timber in taller buildings highlights the critical role of embodied carbon awareness, while ensuring all Canadians live in safe, healthy, climate-resilient homes that are affordable to heat and cool,” Agar says in a statement. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 10, 2024. 

The Canadian Press

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