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Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions

B.C. has the resources and expertise to lead the Prefab Mass Timber construction revolution

Mass timber is part of a worldwide construction shift towards prefabrication and offsite construction. Prefabricated buildings made from sustainable sourced mass timber are a huge environmental and economic opportunity for B.C. and generate a triple win of low-carbon buildings, secure jobs and forest sector growth.

Mass timber buildings (7-12 stories), rare in B.C. but growing and important for densification and livability, are well suited for mass timber construction. They help support significant embodied carbon reductions, thriving communities and affordable housing. B.C. has the resources and expertise to lead this construction category and, as of 2019, allows mass timber buildings up to 12 stories within some early-adopter jurisdictions. Yet uptake remains low for many reasons, including policy/regulatory barriers and supply/demand dynamics.

Download the guides below to learn more about how you can join the worldwide mass timber movement.

Building Capacity – Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions

Building Capacity covers mass timber solutions for senior government officials, the development industry and local governments. Released in February 2023, this 60-page guide breaks down the challenges and potential solutions for each audience.

Local Government Quick Reference Handbook

Released in April 2023, this quick reference guide is aimed at elected officials and local government staff interested in implementing mass timber solutions in their community.

Design Solutions to Prefab Mass Timber Construction

Yellow text reading Design Solutions to Prefab Mass Timber Construction on a dark green background with concentric light yellow lines that look like tree rings

A design guide aimed at those with planning or architecture backgrounds. Released in September 2022.

Building Capacity Guide Information

Building Capacity: Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions offers ways for local governments to develop policies and regulations that facilitate mid-rise mass timber construction. It also provides paths for senior levels of government and the building sector to contribute to successful mass timber projects and help scale this novel building form in B.C.  

Building Capacity is the culmination of a year-long process led by Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Renewable Cities that included independent research and analysis complemented by engagement with over 230 developers, design consultants, builders, manufacturers, local government planners and building officials. It was released in February 2023.

Building Capacity is primarily directed towards local government and the development sector

Local Governments

  • Gain a deeper understanding of how mid-rise buildings constructed with prefabrication mass timber lead to substantial economic gains, lower greenhouse gas emissions and thriving communities
  • Become aware of key challenges and explore strategies related to land use, design guidelines and building permit processes to facilitate more prefab and mass timber construction

Development Industry

  • Learn about solutions your industry can take and how to support local governments in tuning policy to be more “prefab mass timber friendly”

Senior Government

  • Learn how provincial and federal policies affect construction standards for municipalities and developers working on mass timber projects and ways to advance innovation in this space
Brock Commons Tall Wood building progress (Photo: Naturallywood, KK Law)


Building Capacity was funded by BC Hydro, Forestry Innovation Investment (FII) and the Office of Mass Timber Implementation in the B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation.


Mid-rise buildings (7 to 12 stories) constructed with prefab mass timber have epic potential in B.C. to offer environmental, economic and community benefits.

Despite the tremendous interest, significant barriers exist to scaling large, complex prefab wood buildings, including a suite of local government planning and building policies and processes.

In 2022, SFU’s Renewable Cities assembled an interdisciplinary project team of architects, planners, developers and building officials to work with communities and stakeholders to increase understanding of key land use and permitting barriers for the construction of prefabricated and mid-rise mass timber construction.

Funded by B.C. Hydro, FII and JERI Ministry, the Renewable Cities-led Project Team engaged over 230 municipal and building stakeholders which have helped inform the development of the Building Capacity: Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions Guide.


Phase One
(Winter-Spring 2022)

Phase Two
(Summer-Winter 2022)

Phase Three
(Winter 2023)

Phase Four
(Winter-Spring 2023)

Identifiedland use policies that inadvertently hinder the use of prefabricated and mass timber construction for mid-rise buildings in B.C. and recommended a suite of solutions 

Identifiedbuilding permit and design guideline challenges and solutions, and published Phase 1 & 2 findings in the Building Capacity: Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions Guide   

Disseminating Phase 1 & 2 findings to key constituencies through workshops, briefs and promotion of the Building Capacity Guide. It will include training and accredited education sessions for audiences. 

Enhanced outreach begins with key audiences, such as local government elected officials and community design panels across B.C 

If your organization is interested in having our team lead a workshop or short presentation, please reach out to Veronica Grant, 


Our interdisciplinary project team assembled by Renewable Cities with the M.J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University involving the Building Officials Association of BC, Ecosse Development Corp, Penway Consulting and Scius Advisory Services.

Veronica Grant, Renewable Cities | Project Coordinator
Helen Goodland, Scius Advisory Services, Architect RIBA | MT & Building Innovation Advisor
Portrait of Gary Penway
Gary Penway, Penway Consulting, RPP MCIP | Land Use Policy Specialist
Norm Couttie, Ecosse Development Corp, Architect AIBC | MT Developer Specialist
Arjun Singh, Community Builder | Local Government Strategic Advisor
Arjun Singh, Community Builder | Local Government Strategic Advisor
Portrait of Mesa Sherriff wearing a white collared shirt and grey sweater
Mesa Sherriff, Architect AIA, Urban Designer, LEED AP, Associate at ZGF Architects | Design Guideline Expert
A black and white headshot of Maryam Alirezaei wearing a black lace top.
Maryam Alirezaei, Associate Principal | Design Guideline Expert
Headshot of Frank Ducote wearing black t shirt, black round glasses and a fedora.
Frank Ducote, FCIP, RPP | Design Guideline Expert
Marie Bednash, ZGF Architects, Associate AIA – Principal | Design Guideline and Communications Expert
Daniel Wilson, ZGF Architects, Architect AIBC, CPHD, Associate | Design Guideline Expert
Portait of Thomas Noussis wearing a black collared shirt
Thomas Noussis, ZGF Architects Intern Architect, Associate | Design Guideline Expert
Tim Ryce, Professional Engineer and Chief Building Official | Strategic Advisor
Geoff Triggs, Evolution Building Science Ltd. P.L.Eng., Owner/Principal | Strategic Advisor
John de Ruiter, City of North Vancouver, Chief Building Inspector (former) | Permitting & Inspection Advisor

Stay up to date with us

If you would like to stay up to date with this project, be invited to upcoming workshops and be the first to receive the project updates. 


For more information, please contact Veronica Grant ( at Renewable Cities. 


Conference: State-City Collaboration on Clean Energy Transformations

How can national, subnational and local governments collaborate on the clean energy transition? | May 29–30, 2019

Event: 100% Renewable Transit – Seattle and Vancouver

What can we learn from two transit authorities transitioning to 100% RE? | Nov. 28, 2018

Event: Renewable natural gas – Unlocking local government potential in B.C.

Join us on June 15 for the launch of a new collaborative research project to explore options for local government RNG production. | Jun. 15, 2018

Event: Germany’s energy transition and cities – Economic insights and good policy

With Claudia Kemfert, Head of Department of Energy, Transportation, and Environment at DIW Berlin. | Apr. 12, 2018

Event: New energy and mobility futures

A conversation with Ethan Zindler, Head of Americas for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. | Mar. 13, 2018

Event: B.C.’s Climate Plan and the Urban Opportunity

A conversation with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy for British Columbia. | Feb. 9, 2018


If you would like to highlight an event here, email


  • 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference—November 11-22, 2019
  • Renewable Cities’ State-City Collaboration on Clean Energy Transformations—May 29-30, 2019, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Clean Energy Ministerial 2019 (CEM10)—May 27-29, 2019, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada