Condo construction in Victoria using a concrete ground floor with wood construction above. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C.-pioneered wood construction on a roll internationally

Washington state considers mandatory engineered wood for public buildings

B.C. isn’t following Washington’s lead to make engineered wood construction mandatory for public buildings, but Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says the trend to international acceptance is good for B.C.’s forest products industry.

Washington’s state legislature is considering a law to require cross-laminated timber (CLT) for public construction of 12 storeys or less. Donaldson said this week he isn’t currently considering a similar mandate, but he encourages wood construction whenever he can.

“In our public buildings I consistently bring to the table the perspective that if we’re investing in big capital projects like schools, and even from a seismic improvement perspective, where can we fit wood in that makes sense,” Donaldson said in an interview from Port Alberni.

The B.C. ministry has a wood innovation group studying new techniques, and Donaldson has carried on B.C. and Canada’s international marketing efforts in Asia. His trade trip to China last fall included a visit to a wood constructed resort in a country trying to reduce its air pollution and massive use of concrete.

The trend to wood construction is fuelling growth in lumber trade. Seattle-based Wood Resources International reports that 2017 was a record for global softwood lumber trade, with demand increasing in the U.S. China and Europe. Japan is a mature market for B.C. high-end lumber, and imports to China have rebounded and reached their highest level since 2015.

China traditionally buys low-cost lumber from North America and Russia, with higher grades mainly coming from Chile, Sweden and Finland.

RELATED: B.C. wood high-rise is the talk of Asia

Donaldson said enthusiasm for CLT and other engineered wood techniques remains high in China, as President Xi Jinping is calling for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and clean up air quality in the country’s rapidly growing cities.

An international committee of engineers, architects, fire officials and other experts formed in 2016 to develop changes to the International Building Code. Their target is to have design and construction standards for tall wood buildings prepared by 2021.

The construction of Brock Commons, an 18-storey student residence at the University of B.C. has sparked international attention. It uses cross-laminated timber panels manufactured by Penticton-based Structurlam, which earlier pioneered the “Glulam” laminated wood beams that are now commonly used in construction.

Another B.C. project that put engineered timber on the world map was the 2010 Olympic Oval in Richmond, with the world’s largest timber roof spanning six acres. Built for speed skating events, it has been converted into a multi-sport facility that has hosted international events from fencing to wheelchair rugby.

BC legislatureforestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon keeper eager to start college soccer career

Kevin Morgan, 18, graduate of Thompson Okanagan Football Academy, signs on with UBCO Heat

Square footage may be revisited for Vernon cultural centre

Greater Vernon Cultural Centre could see size shrink up to 20 per cent as cost-savings measure

Vernon paddleboarders raise more than $40K for People Place

Third annual Stand Up For charity paddleboard event exceeds $25,000 goal

Historic Vernon land parcel for sale

The O’Keefe Range Land off Bella Vista Road is available; owners asking for almost $29 million

Brain safety top of mind for Lake Country kids

Bylaw officers noticing a number of youth out riding bikes, scooters, skateboards without helmets

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

COVID-19 outbreak at South Okanagan farm declared over

There continues to be other community exposure events in the Interior Health region

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

VIDEO: Revelstoke rallies to save snared eagle

Local climber scales tree to save the raptor

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Most Read