PCA Poll: Majority of Americans Concerned Over Wooden High-Rises

Three in four, or 74 percent, of Americans say proposals to allow taller buildings to be constructed with wood raise serious concerns for public safety, according to a nationwide poll conducted by Hart Research on behalf of the Portland Cement Association (PCA). Proposed code changes that would allow the use of mass timber in the construction of buildings up to 18 stories will be voted on in October by the International Code Council (ICC), which develops the model building code.

“Most people don’t know what materials were used to build their home, school, hospital or office building – so the building codes that shaped those construction decisions are way off their radar,” said PCA President and CEO Michael Ireland. “We wanted to take the pulse of Americans to learn what they think about proposals to build taller structures using wood, and we got a very clear picture: they don’t like it.”

According to the poll, three in four respondents, or 74 percent, think it’s a bad idea to allow high-rise construction using wood. Further, three in four respondents, or 74 percent, also say they’d be personally uncomfortable doing business in buildings built using wood products, such as cross-laminated timber. 

When asked why they had concerns about such proposals, the following percentage of respondents volunteered specific reasons, which are summarized here:

  • Wood is less strong than other building materials like steel and concrete, it’s not as sturdy or durable and could break (52 percent). 
  • Wood is more flammable, more likely to burn and presents a greater fire hazard (31 percent).
  • Wood is more susceptible to weather damage and weather events (including earthquakes and hurricanes), it is less safe and will decompose or rot faster than other materials (18 percent).

“It’s time Americans were made aware of this threat, and that they can have a say in whether the wood industry gets a fast-tracked path to being able to build high-rise buildings across the country,” Ireland said, urging people to visit stoptallwood.com to get engaged.

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