Wood First Growing
Prince George, B.C. – It has been seven years since BC changed its building code to allow for mid rise buildings to be built of wood, and the rest of the country is now following that path.
The change to the building code in this province along with a “wood first” policy adopted in 2009, cleared the way for mid rise wood frame construction. The changes were meant to boost the forest products industry following the crash of the US housing market in 2008.
Last week’s announcement that the new Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Prince George would be a wood structure was music to the ears of the Canadian Wood Council. “BC’s been a leader in mid-rise (wood) construction” says Canadian Wood Council CEO Lynn Embury- Williams “This construction method is very important because it’s not only being used in residential building, but in hotels. So given this bounty of wood product construction in BC , it’s important to continue to incorporate wood into projects wherever you can.”
The Wood Innovation and Design Centre was the first mid-rise building for Prince George, and Embury-Williams says the hotel construction is not the first in the province “This is the third mid-rise hotel ( to be built with wood) in British Columbia” ” So there are other hotels that are three to 4 storeys, they tend to be wood frame, this is the third 6 storey to be built.”
Sukh Johal is the Technical Advisor for the Canadian Wood Council, and he has been crossing the country to sell and assist developers on mid rise wood frame construction “It’s not a hard sell at all, the rest of the country is very envious of what BC has accomplished.” Although the Provincial government led the way on the idea of mid rise wood frame construction, he says it more a matter of economics, “The numbers work for mid rise.”
Because BC has seven years experience in this type of construction, Johal says BC is exporting its talent and expertise on this type of construction “We’re actually doing peer reviews for mid rise projects in other provinces and we’re also exporting wood to other provinces it’s a great story”
There are now more that 258 mid rise wood frame buildings in B.C. “The latest numbers from Ontario are in the area of 50 (mid rise wood frame) buildings being permitted, so that’s brand new for Ontario” says Embury-Williams. They don’t have one completed yet, but they are on the way. They are concerned with affordable housing, the same as we are in British Columbia, so this is a building system that works well for them.”
She says mid rise wood frame construction has many benefits “Wood buildings are spectacular and they provide a significant advantage for combating climate change. It ( wood frame construction) is one that performs well, is cost competitive, very beautiful and one that will help save the planet.”