Code Council considers launch of committee to facilitate taller wood buildings

Sources: International Code Council (ICC), Country Club Hills, Ill.; Portland Cement Association, Skokie, Ill.; CP staff

The American Wood Council (AWC) has requested that ICC establish the Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings, which would investigate the feasibility of cross laminated timber and structural composite lumber for construction exceeding current International Building Code height limitations.

With a five-year term culminating in the 2018/2019/2020 I-Codes Cycle, the AWC-bankrolled committee would develop prescriptive criteria for tall wood projects, including type of construction, plus height and area consideration, for prospective 2021 International Building Code inclusion. Joining building material and product interests as target members would be architects and engineers, building and fire officials, plus fire protection experts.

Cross laminated timber and structural composite lumber are currently being used in Europe, AWC contends, while building design and construction professionals are increasingly interested in “the sustainability characteristics of wood in taller buildings.” ICC was set to review comments on the AWC proposal following an early-November submission deadline.

In Portland Cement Association comments, Senior Director, Codes & Standards Steve Szoke, P.E., observes, “This would be the first ICC ad hoc committee focused on a specific construction material (wood) as applied to a specific structure type (tall buildings). It would set a precedent that would create expectations of similar committees being established for other construction materials and systems applied to various structure types. The possible number of combinations could be overwhelming, and if ICC were unable to accommodate similar requests in the future it could be perceived as favoritism.

“The scope of the proposed ad hoc committee would seem to overlap with the type of activity already conducted by the ICC Evaluation Service. PCA believes that the needs of the American Wood Council can be served through ICC-ES, without ICC being required to set a precedent that may prove impossible for it to follow and/or having its credibility potentially tarnished by the appearance of favoritism.”

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