Edmonton

Province to allow 12-storey buildings made of wood

The Alberta government will allow construction of 12-storey buildings using engineered wood starting this spring in advance of the new National Building Code that will be published later this year. 

Change coming this spring ahead of National Building Code changes

Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu (left) and Kent Fargey, president of Western Archrib, spoke at a news conference on Friday announcing the new 12-storey maximum for wood buildings. (Manuel Carrillos/CBC )

Alberta will allow construction of 12-storey buildings using engineered wood starting this spring in advance of the new National Building Code that will be published later this year. 

The announcement was made in Edmonton Friday by Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu and industry representatives who say the technology is safe. 

Kent Fargey, president of Western Archrib, an Edmonton firm that manufactures engineered wood, said the product, also known as mass timber or tall wood, performs better in a fire than an exposed steel beam. 

"Mass timber is exceptionally good in fire situations," Fargey told the news conference. "The mass timber will char, which prevents the fire from building.

"It's not like kindling on a fire. It's the big log on a fire. It will char but not advance the fire."

Alberta currently allows the construction of wood buildings up to six storeys. The height of buildings using engineered wood will double under the building code changes.

The provincial government heralded the announcement as an initiative to "reduce red tape" that will create jobs in the construction and forestry industries. 

Taller buildings constructed with engineered wood exist in Vancouver, the United States and Europe. 

The 18-storey Brock Commons Tallwood building on the campus of the University of British Columbia was constructed with engineered wood.

now