Increase height of wood buildings from 4 to 6 stories

An Informative video from the City of Calgary

The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes has approved the increase in height and area limits of combustible buildings to be published in the 2015 model National Building Code of Canada. This shift to higher mid-rise construction is based on a number of important factors. These include:

  • Better recognition of the design properties of wood products;
  • Improvements in wood-based building science and use of sprinkler systems;
  • The need for lower cost, building-code-compliant construction options, leading to increased home affordability; and
  • The fact that wood is a renewable product that will reduce the environmental impact of buildings.

Many Canadian jurisdictions are responding quickly (before the 2015 building code is punished) to capture these benefits. A timeline of adoption activities is listed below:

  • Province of Alberta (May 1st, 2015) Amending Alberta’s safety code act to allow wood buildings to be constructed up to 6  stories
  • City of Calgary (October 29th, 2014) Issued guidelines for acceptance of mid-rise (alternate solution approach) NBCC 2015 provisions with additional Course of Construction
  • Province of Ontario (January 1st, 2014) Announced mid-rise Code changes effective January 1, 2015 Some differences from the NBCC
  • Province of Quebec (July, 2013) Announced acceptance of mid-rise code changes as an alternate solutions approach
  • Province of British Columbia (January 1st, 2009) There have been over 200 successful 6 storey wood projects.

National Model Construction Codes are developed and maintained centrally by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC).   The National Model Construction Codes are developed and maintained using a broad-based consensus process. Individuals from all segments of the Canadian construction community have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the codes, either directly, through committee membership, or indirectly, by submitting or commenting on proposed changes.

The model codes include the National Building Code, the National Fire Code, the National Plumbing Code and the National Energy Code. The Codes are published by the NRC as models for use by provinces and territories for building and fire regulations. These can be adopted as is, amended, and/or supplemented to suit regional needs, and then published as provincial or territorial Codes.

In the Atlantic provinces – Due to smaller populations, the code authority of each Atlantic province adopt or adapt the National Model Construction Codes, unlike Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec who publish their own codes based on the National Model Construction Codes. Although, the Atlantic provinces adopt the national codes, it does not mean the process is prompt and consistent. The Atlantic WoodWORKS! team is finding a way to fast track this code change within your provinces.  A national change does not always mean a provincial change.  Provincial changes can take up to 6 years to reflect national code.

“Atlantic WoodWORKS! is actively working to inform Atlantic governments on the positive environmental, economic and social implications of a prompt adoption of the 2015 National Building Code.”

For resources supporting the proposed building code change please download the documents in the right sidebar.