Alberta is setting themselves up to be the next province to allow 12-storey wood buildings. Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu made the announcement as part of Alberta’s Red Tape Reduction Awareness Week.
British Columbia passed a similar initiative. In B.C., local governments are required to sign on. Alberta will make this a province-wide practice.
“Not only will this decision support the forestry industry and land developers, it will provide affordability to homebuyers, bolster employment, and give Alberta a competitive advantage,” said Madu. “We made this change knowing that mass timber products are safe and that these buildings will meet all necessary standards.”
Alberta’s current practice allows for wood-building construction for up to six storeys. The next edition of the National Building Code is expected to be published at the end of 2020. It will allow for the use of tall wood construction with fire-resistant material up to 12-storeys. The province plans to issue a notice to allow for 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.
“We commend the Government of Alberta for advancing the use of wood-building construction of up to 12-storeys with this provincewide variance,” maintained Paul Whittaker, president of Alberta Forest Products Association. “By building with products that are made locally, we are supporting thousands of jobs in small communities and large cities throughout the province. Moreover, because wood is fully renewable and has a low carbon footprint, our environment benefits, too.”
The building code will require tall wood buildings to be built as encapsulated mass timber construction where the wood has been surrounded by fire-resistant material. Buildings of mass timber construction must also be fully sprinklered.