Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions

New Guide Available: Building Capacity

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. Prefab mass timber buildings 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.

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)

PROJECT OVERVIEW

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.

PROJECT PHASES

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 Brad Doff brad_doff@sfu.ca 

PROJECT TEAM

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.

Alex Boston, Renewable Cities & ZEBx, Fellow – SFU Centre for Dialogue | Project Director
Brad Doff, Renewable Cities, ENV SP, LEED Green Associate | Project Manager
Helen Goodland, Scius Advisory Services, Arch | MT & Building Innovation Advisor
Portrait of Gary Penway
Gary Penway, Penway Consulting, RPP MCIP | Land Use Policy Specialist
Marie Bednash, ZGF Architects, Associate AIA – Principal | Design Guideline and Communications Expert
Norm Couttie, Ecosse Development Corp, Arch | MT Developer Specialist
John de Ruiter, City of North Vancouver, Chief Building Inspector (former) | Permitting & Inspection Advisor
Daniel Wilson, ZGF Architects, Architect AIBC, CPHD, Associate | Design Guideline Expert
Catherine Ernst, BOABC, Level 1 Building Inspector | Strategic Advisor
Tim Ryce, Professional Engineer and Chief Building Official | Strategic Advisor
Geoff Triggs, Evolution Building Science Ltd. P.L.Eng., Owner/Principal | Strategic Advisor
Portait of Thomas Noussis wearing a black collared shirt
Thomas Noussis, ZGF Architects Intern Architect, Associate | Design Guideline Expert

Stay updated 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. 

NEWS & EVENTS

For more information, please contact Brad Doff (brad_doff@sfu.ca) at Renewable Cities.