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Cities endorse 12-storey wood towers

June 4, 2020

On May 27, Vancouver City Council joined other cities across Canada in approving mass-timber construction up to 12 storeys for residential and commercial uses, doubling the current height limit of six floors.
The city joins 13 other B.C. municipalities and scores more across Canada that now endorse taller wood buildings more than a year after the BC Building Code was modified to allow the tall wood buildings.
The inclusion of 12-storey mass timber buildings will come into effect in the 2020 federal National Building Code. Alberta approved 12-storey wood construction province wide in 2019.
“Accepting taller mass timber construction with the building bylaw will make it easier to build with low carbon materials, support future housing affordability and represents an important first step in reducing our carbon pollution from construction,” said a Vancouver City Council staff report.
Mass timber is made of smaller pieces of lumber which are laminated together to form engineered structural components for floors, walls, columns and beams.
The timber is significantly more fire resistant than light wood construction because the wood is covered by one or more layers of gypsum board to meet minimum fire protection standards required by building codes.
Studies of mass timber projects have shown a reduction of carbon pollution in the range of 25 to 45 per cent or more during construction. The buildings are also more energy efficient because wood is a natural insulator.
The leading B.C. developer for cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction is Vancouver-based Adera Development, which uses its proprietary SmartWood CLT system exclusively. The company has 500 homes under construction using SmartWood, according to Eric Andreasen, Adera’s senior vice president and senior operational manager.

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