December 19, 2018

2021 IBC To Include Wood Buildings Up To 18 Stories Tall

Washington, D.C. – December 19, 2018. Per preliminary voting results released by the International Code Council (ICC) today, all 14 tall mass timber code change proposals have been approved, clearing the way for their inclusion in the 2021 International Building Code (IBC).

Taken together, the 14 tall mass timber code change proposals create three new types of construction in the United States, setting fire safety requirements and allowable heights, areas, and number of stories for tall mass timber buildings up to 18 stories tall. Mass timber includes any product currently permitted for use in Type IV construction, including cross laminated timber, structural composite lumber, glued laminated timber, and large-section sawn lumber. Specifically, the three new mass timber building types are:

  • Type IV-A – Wood buildings up to 18 stories tall
  • Type IV-B – Wood buildings up to 12 stories tall
  • Type IV-C – Wood buildings up to 9 stories tall

This outcome represents in part the efforts of the Softwood Lumber Board (SLB), which alongside the American Wood Council (AWC) and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, funded a multi-year initiative led by AWC to generate new data to demonstrate the performance of tall mass timber structures, engage and educate code and fire officials, and ultimately gain acceptance for tall wood in building codes and standards.

The SLB’s Cees de Jager noted that “this vote is the culmination of years of research and testing that have proven unequivocally that mass timber meets and, in many cases, exceeds the performance and safety standards required by American building codes. This is an exciting development for anyone interested in building design and construction in the United States and especially for those committed to integrating high-performance, low-carbon materials into the built environment. We are particularly excited for the softwood lumber industry, as per our research, this change could represent an additional 1.5 billion board feet of new market opportunity every year, along with increased use of every product our industry sells.”

Official ICC results are expected to be certified in late January. ICC’s code development cycle will continue throughout 2019, and additional structural requirements for tall mass timber buildings will be considered. The 2021 IBC is expected to be released in late 2020, along with the full set of 2021 I-codes.

About the Softwood Lumber Board:
The Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) is an industry-funded initiative established to promote lumber’s value proposition and increase demand for softwood lumber products in outdoor, residential, and non-residential construction. Through strategic investments in pro-wood communications, standards development, design and engineering assistance, research, demonstrations, and partnerships, the organization seeks to make softwood lumber the preferred material choice from both an economic and an environmental standpoint.