October 31, 2018

Newsflash: Tall Mass Timber Code Proposals Pass by Large Margins

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, all 14 proposals from the Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings were approved by large margins at the International Code Council (ICC) public comment hearings in Richmond, Va. The Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) commends the American Wood Council (AWC) and its effort in this specially funded initiative by the SLB, the AWC, and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

Approval of these proposals will allow three new mass timber building types to be constructed in the United States:

  • Type IV-A – Wood buildings up to 20 stories tall
  • Type IV-B – Wood buildings up to 12 stories tall
  • Type IV-C – Wood buildings up to 9 stories tall

Mass timber includes any product currently permitted for use in Type IV construction, such as cross laminated timber, structural composite lumber, glued-laminated timber, and large section sawn lumber. SLB-funded research estimates that 5.1 billion board feet (bbf) of potential annual demand, with the majority coming from 12 stories and below.

In reflecting on the impact of these changes, the SLB’s Cees de Jager noted that “while formal adoption of these code changes won’t take place until well into the next decade, jurisdictions have the opportunity to incorporate the tall wood building provisions into their current code. The state of Oregon recently approved an addendum to its building code that allows timber structures to be built over six stories without having to acquire special permission. It will provide the necessary confidence for developers and designers to begin designing projects in wood from the start, rather than attempting to convert a steel or concrete design much later in the process. Through its programs and initiatives, the SLB will continue to be at the forefront of capturing the market share opportunities created by the code changes.”

These proposals will now head to the online government consensus vote for final approval, which is scheduled to begin in November. The outcome of the tall mass timber code change proposals is expected in December.