Industry pushes back on code sidestepping friendly to taller wood buildings

Sources: Cement Association of Canada (CAC), Ottawa; CP staff

Cement and concrete interests are questioning the Quebec government’s decision to bypass the usual building code development process by allowing construction of taller (> five stories) 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.

Launched this summer by Quebec premier Philippe Couillard, the guide is not recognized by the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) nor is FPInnovations a Standards Council of Canada-accredited standards development organization. CAC contends that a) construction of cross-laminated timber (CLT) buildings and taller wood buildings are not recognized by the NBCC; b) FPInnovations voluntarily withdrew a proposal to include CLT building systems in the 2015 Code; and, c) use of CLT building systems is no more—and perhaps much less—environmentally friendly than the use of other NBCC-recognized building systems when one considers full life cycle.

“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,” says CAC President Michael McSweeney. “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.”