Wood First and the Wood Enterprise Coalition

Posted by Brian Hawrysh
May 16th, 2011

Recently, a number of you have asked me for an up-date on the Province’s Wood First initiative and the Wood Enterprise Coalition. So by way of some background, the Province’s Wood First legislation, enacted in October of 2009, was introduced to put wood at the top of people’s minds when they started to think about a construction project.The Wood First act requires that wood is used as the primary building material in all provincially-funded buildings. The purpose of the act is to encourage municipalities, architects, engineers, and construction professionals to make a concerted effort to consider using wood wherever it is appropriate and can be used effectively.

The Wood Enterprise Coalition (WEC), a partnership of Wood WORKS! BC, FPInnovations, and BC Wood Specialties Group, was created to play a central role in delivering on a number of the objectives of the Wood First initiative in the Province. The mandate of the WEC is to:

  • Provide technical support to Wood First construction projects in BC,
  • Communicate the benefits and options for using more wood in non-residential constructions,
  • Support the movement of innovative products from the lab to the market,
  • Showcase innovative wood building products and systems in demonstration projects and
  • Assist with the development of more wood engineering/design education and training in BC.

The three organizations making up the WEC have worked hard in a collaborative effort to move forward these initial objectives. Over the past twelve months, a number of significant milestones have been achieved including:

  • An extensive outreach and communication effort to make municipalities aware of the Wood First legislation and how their planning departments can incorporate more wood, structurally and architecturally, into their buildings. To date, over 45 municipalities have passed their own legislation supportive of the provincial Wood First act.
  • Two demonstrations projects, the North Vancouver City Hall and the Environmental Learning Centre at the Outdoor School in Brackendale, received WEC funding to showcase the use of innovative wood based building products and systems. Three additional projects have been selected and will receive funding during the coming year.
  • An Appropriate Use Wood Matrix has been developed to show the current best practices in the use of wood building materials and systems for a wide variety of non-residential types. The matrix was launched along with other valuable resource materials on the new WEC website.
  • A number of symposiums were held to communicate the benefits and opportunities of incorporating more wood into non-residential construction including the Cross Laminated Timber Symposium and the Living and Building with Wood First Forum. These symposiums were attended by over 600 representatives from the forest products industry, local and provincial governments and architect, engineering and construction firms.
  • Technical and products specialists from the WEC partners have met with design and construction teams from a large number of municipalities in the Province. These specialists provide product, design, and construction solutions to the specific problems that these teams are facing.

There is much more to be done in the effort to realize the objectives of Wood First in BC. It is hoped that in the coming year there will be an increased level of involvement from the Province’s value-added wood products manufacturers in this effort. For more information about Wood First and how you might become involved please check out the WEC website at www.wecbc.ca or contact me directly at bhawrysh@bcwood.com or 604-882-7100.

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