Posted by Rumin Mann
September 24th, 2010

Nearly 70 midrise wood-frame buildings are either under construction or consideration across British Columbia, demonstrating growing support for the Province’s Wood First Initiative, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell announced as part of National Forest Week.

“Thanks to Wood First and changes to the B.C. Building Code, we’re proving that B.C. is a leader in wood design, knowledge and technology,” said Bell. “There are currently 44 midrise projects, or 68 individual buildings in the works, helping to spur local economies and demonstrate our expertise to the world.”

One example is the Library Square development in Kamloops. Framing of the six-storey, commercial-use, wood-frame building was recently completed by Tri City Contracting (BC) Ltd. Originally the project included a steel frame but was redesigned  to realize cost savings following changes to the BC Building Code in 2009 that allow for six-storey, wood-frame construction.

“We cannot emphasize enough the savings we achieved thanks to the Province’s building code change. The code change was paramount in making this project viable and a reality,” said Tom McNeil, project manager, Tri City Contracting (BC) Ltd. “Given the benefits, Tri City Contracting is currently in the design stage with several other six-storey, wood-framed buildings throughout B.C. and we look forward to continued success.”

The Wood First Act became law in October 2009 and requires that wood be considered as the primary building material in all provincially funded building projects. Since then, 12 local governments have passed Wood First resolutions in support of the act and three cities – Quesnel, Terrace and Enderby – now have Wood First bylaws. The District of Squamish had the foresight to pass a resolution prior to the act.

“Local governments are continuing to embrace the Wood First concept and I renew my challenge for others to follow suit,” said Bell. “Passing a resolution or bylaw generates new demand for B.C. wood and wood products, and ensures a sustainable forest industry.”

To assist local governments in incorporating more wood into their building projects, the Province will launch a web-based tool called the “Appropriate Use of Wood Matrix” this fall. The matrix will summarize best practices for using wood building systems and materials, and provide access to case studies and other design resources.

“The matrix will operationalize the Wood First Act, and that’s a very exciting new development for our province,” said Mary Tracey, executive director of Wood WORKS! BC. “The matrix will help users understand how and where wood can go in their projects, making it easier to maximize the use of wood, which is the intent of the Wood First Act.”

For more information and photos on the Province’s Wood First Initiative, visit: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/mof/woodfirst

National Forest Week 2010 runs from Sept. 19-25 across Canada. Bell’s message and other interesting forestry information is available at:  www.for.gov.bc.ca/pab/nfw/

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