August 25, 2020

California Building Standards Commission Passes Tall Wood Code Change Proposals

Recently, the California Building Standards Commission grouped the tall wood code change proposals into one agenda item and passed them unanimously. The commission agreed that early adoption of mass timber will have many benefits for the state. Increased market demand, alignment with wildland fire prevention and forest management goals, and improved carbon storage are all in California’s best interests.

With this approval, California will adopt the entire series of the ICC approved change proposals for the design of tall wood buildings in California. California will become the fifth state to move forward with early adoption of the 2021 International Building Code, including:

  • 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

The early adoption of mass timber codes can be a benefit to California in many ways, but I would like to highlight three of those advantages in this proposal. Number 1, it has the potential to increase the market demand for mass timber production in California to meet the needs of the construction industry. Number 2, it will increase the pace and scale of our wildland fire prevention and forest management goals of treating 500 thousand acres per year by thinning the forest of smaller diameter trees that can be used in the production of cross laminated timber and other mass timber assemblies. And while wood products provide the benefit of storing carbon, another benefit or advantage is that mass timber construction can also help reduce the carbon footprint of concrete and steel production.” – Chief Mike Richwine, State Fire Marshal

California will codify and publish the tall wood code provisions into the 2019 CBC in January 2021. It will become effective in July 2021. The SLB is excited about the additional opportunities the California code adoption brings to our industry.

The mission of the SLB is to increase demand for softwood lumber by growing market share for lumber-based products in commercial, residential, and outdoor construction in the U.S. We aim to make softwood lumber the preferred building material from both economic and environmental standpoints. Our investments have had significant impact, generating over 7 billion board feet since the SLB’s inception and delivering an average ROI of $25 for every $1 spent. To learn more about the SLB and its funded programs, visit