August 5, 2009
Pushing wood construction

A push to include more wood in non-residential construction has some forestry executives asking government to change the rules and building professionals to consider timber.

Calling the industry an economic driver - based on a renewable resource - the New Brunswick Forest Products Association is studying the issue and intending to lobby the province.

"You can safely construct a building up to six storeys in wood," said association president and CEO Mark Arsenault. "We're going to start pushing for that."

Building codes in all provinces except British Columbia prohibit the use of lumber for framing buildings higher than four storeys. Other restrictions exist for how much wood can be used in some public and educational facilities.

Arsenault will begin work with the Maritime Lumber Bureau to bring greater attention to wood use in construction.

The issue came to the fore when Serge Laplante, the vice-president of wood procurement for Groupe Savoie, recently saw a photo of construction at the Université de Moncton's Edmundston campus, where about $9.5 million is being spent to renovate and build.

The photo, which ran in a local newspaper earlier this month, showed one floor of a four-storey building going up with steel beams, rather than wood.

Paul-Émile Benoit, a university spokesman, said work is being done according to national guidelines.

"There are certain things that are specified in building codes concerning combustible material," Benoit said. "They're trying to include more wood as much as they can."

But Laplante said the picture "is just an example." He wants the province to require a percentage of materials used in building construction be wood products.

"The government should be behind them pushing," Laplante said. "It's our resources and it's growing every year. It's our economy and I think we should put more wood in the buildings."

Arsenault is looking to mirror national campaigns such as those launched by the Canadian Wood Council, which releases a quarterly magazine about wood use in architecture and construction as a guide for professionals.
"There are a lot of new products out there that make the world of wood a very different place," Arsenault said.

"Whether you're into the main framing or whether you're looking at the fine finish, are your rails plastic or are they a nice hardwood finish?"

Rodney McPhee, the wood council's director of codes and standards, said studies the council has commissioned show that 85 per cent of non-residential buildings could be designed by architects and engineers to be built with lumber, according to code (residential buildings are already largely constructed with wood).

"The major issues they look at is cost, typically, first, and preference and experience with regards to materials and how they want their buildings to perform," McPhee said, adding that fire hazard standards add some restrictions to material use.

But McPhee cited cases from British Columbia, where mountain pine beetles have killed large swaths of forest, forcing industry and government to look at using the resource quickly.

In the Richmond Olympic Oval arena - built for next year's Winter Games - more than one million board feet of beetle-killed wood was used in the ceiling.

At the University of British Columbia's Forest Sciences Centre, nearly the entirety of two four-storey buildings is wood, even as standards require buildings with classrooms built with wood not exceed two storeys.

Proponents had additional safety and engineering audits performed to prove the building could withstand fires, even when constructed with wood.

"Now with all the new research, the technology is such that we can really understand how buildings perform in real fires," McPhee said, adding that governments allow for the rules to be broken, provided concerns are addressed another way.

"Using engineering performance analysis, you can create your own recipe," he said.

The Department of Natural Resources project manager of the New Brunswick Building Code Act, Kevin Rickard, said the province is not looking to set standards outside those recommended by the National Research Council, which releases a new code every five years.

"The advisory committee of industry stakeholders has advised that New Brunswick stay with the national building code and not do provincial modifications," Rickard said.

"It's not that B.C. is doing something different, it's that they're leading the country on this issue."

Source: New Brunswick Business Journal, July 17, 2009

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During the first half of 2009, CFSEI published the following new Technical Notes and Design Guides:
Vertical Lateral Force Resisting Systems: Boundary Elements (TN L300-09)
Header Design Guide (TN W200-09)
Design of Clip Angle Bearing Stiffeners (TN F100-09)
Roof Framing Anchorage Forces: MWFRS or C&C (TN L200-09)
Three additional notes are undergoing review and are scheduled for release in August:
Concrete Bearing Strength for Cold-Formed Steel Stud Walls
Top Track Load Distribution Members
Designing Cold-Formed Steel Using the Direct Strength Method.
Check out the “Members Only” section of our website for more access to these resources.
- Catlow Consulting
Las Vegas, NV
- Hambro Structural Systems
Deerfield Beach, FL
- Nagamine Okawa Eng., Inc.
Honolulu, HI
- ThermaChannel
Portland, OR
- Wenco Inc.
New Carlisle, OH
- ZJS Engineering Ser., Inc.
Fontana, CA

August 11, 2009
CFS Lateral Design Guide Presentation
Atlanta, GA More


September 20-22, 2010
Steel Structures 2010 Culture & Sustainability International
Istanbul, Turkey More


October 6-8, 2009
METALCON International
Tampa, FL


October 11-13, 2009
USGBC Greenbuild Conference
Phoenix, AZ


October 17-20, 2009
AISC COS Meetings
Chicago, IL



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Brought to you by the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) on the first Wednesday of each month, Framework Online arms you with the latest news and commentary on the steel framing and construction industries. In addition to industry headlines, trends and project profiles, Framework Online provides information and ideas that will better enable members to increase their participation in the residential and commercial construction markets.