Kelowna, B.C. – The city of Kelowna is aiming to get ahead of the National Building Code by allowing wood frame buildings to be built up to 12 storeys.
Currently, wood framed buildings are capped at six storeys but an early adoption initiative is allowing municipalities to move ahead with tall wood buildings.
“We’re excited to see Kelowna leading innovations in the construction industry,” said Mo Bayat, development services director for the city. “Because many of the components are pre-assembled in mass timber it translates to a much faster build with less disruption to the neighbourhood.”
The city explained that with Provincial and National building codes set to change in the next three years, Kelowna decided to be proactive.
City officials explained that mass timber buildings can be one-fifth the weight of comparable concrete buildings, while still meeting performance standards for safety, structural resilience and fire protection. According to Kelowna, tall wood construction encourages innovation through value-added wood products, helping to grow local and global markets, while promoting climate-friendly construction and supporting B.C’s forest-dependent communities. Other benefits can include construction cost-savings as well as ease and quality of assembly.
“Given the economies of scale with steel or concrete these buildings tend to be high-rises,” said Bayat. “Allowing for taller wood construction creates more flexibility for housing forms and types, particularly in infill projects.”
Kelowna also led the pack on tall wood structures back in 2009, when Ellis Court became the first wood framed building in BC to rise above four-storeys.