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Wood Construction Pushes Forward On Both Sides Of The Border

Mass timber construction is making waves on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, but factors in each country mean a different pace of progress.

The state of Washington is rapidly moving forward on both green construction and use of advanced wood products, but Washington State Department of Commerce forest products sector lead Brian Hatfield said the state isn’t necessarily ahead of its Canadian neighbor. “In some ways, British Columbia is ahead of us in terms of low carbon building materials,” he said.

In 2017, the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services oversaw a pilot project that built 20 kindergarten through Grade 3 classrooms using cross-laminated timber (CLT) in five school district sites in Washington. “We had a pilot district for five school districts, all single-story schools, and those have gone pretty well. They went up quickly and everyone was impressed,” Hatfield said.

The state’s 2016 supplemental capital budget included $5.5 million for the pilot project, which also measures the efficiencies of using engineered wood products through the construction process.

While Washington is taking steps to increase wood use in construction, the Province of British Columbia has pushed for mass timber and wood-focused design for the previous decade. In 2009, the Province of British Columbia put the Wood First Act into practice, which requires provincially funded projects to use wood as a primary construction material. The B.C. building code was also modified in 2009 to allow for wood buildings of up to six stories.

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