Cement Association Questions Allowance of Taller Wood Buildings

The Cement Association of Canada (CAC) calls the decision of the Quebec government to bypass the usual rigourous building code development process questionable, as it allows the construction of taller wood buildings on the basis of a guide developed by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec and FPInnovations, a private research center dedicated to supporting the Canadian forest industry. The guide was launched last month by Quebec premier Philippe Couillard.

The guide is not recognized by the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC), and FPInnovations is not a standards development organization accredited by the Standards Council of Canada. Moreover, the construction of cross-laminated timber (CLT) buildings and taller wood buildings are not recognized by the National Building Code. It is important to note that the proposal to include CLT building systems in the 2015 edition of the NBCC was voluntarily withdrawn by FPInnovations.

According to the CAC, the Quebec government is allowing measures that are not recognized by the codes or standards developed by accredited organizations in order to directly support the wood industry, to the possible detriment of public safety. The CAC also points out that the use of CLT building systems is no more – and perhaps much less – environmentally friendly than the use of other building systems already recognized in the Code, when one considers the full life cycle of the building.

“All Quebecers have a right to expect that a rigorous process is being upheld and followed when it comes to the development of codes and standards. We have long held that governments should not get involved in the choice of building materials and systems and should leave this to the experts,” said Michael McSweeney, CAC president and CEO. “Like the rest of Canada, Quebec has little experience in the construction of six-story wood buildings – how can we venture into the construction of even taller wood buildings? The government has a duty to protect the health of its citizens, not that of a particular industry.”

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