BC Government Funds 12 Mass Timber Research Projects

$4.2M in funding aims to accelerate the adoption of mass timber building systems.

The government of British Columbia is funding 12 mass timber demonstration and research projects and has established a new advisory council to accelerate the adoption of mass timber building systems, as part of the Province’s economic recovery.

The advisory council is a group of experts from urban planning and development, First Nations, forest products industry, environmental non-profits, academia and local governments.

One of the selected projects for a grant is 837 Beatty Street, designed by office of macfarlane biggar architects + designers

The $4.2-million investment in mass timber demonstration projects and research will help urban planners and developers adopt mass timber building systems by supporting the incremental or first-time costs of design development, research, permitting and construction activities.

The demonstration projects reflect a range of different building types and approaches to using mass timber including a firehall with strict post-disaster requirements, an Indigenous health and culture centre and low-cost housing on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

“I am delighted to serve the Province to promote our forest industry and advance the use of mass timber in buildings,” says Derek Newby,  a Vancouver Principal of Diamond Schmitt Architects who is part of the advisory council. “Sustainably managed forests, and the timber products they create, play a key role in reducing harmful emissions associated with buildings. The initiative shown by the Province through this effort is key to the widespread adoption of mass timber buildings, and a pivot toward a more sustainable building industry,”

The research projects will study mass timber’s fire performance, the costs relative to steel and concrete, and carbon benefits. All project innovations and best practices will be broadly shared to promote learning and further advance mass timber use provincewide.

The following are grant recipients and project descriptions according to the government’s website:

Happy Harvest Inc. ($475,000): This 11-storey multi-family residential building will demonstrate the use of mass timber-steel hybrid for affordable rental buildings. The proposed design includes 120 affordable homes as well as a learning space and community theatre. (Design by MA+HG Architects with EskewDumezRipple) https://www.naturallywood.com/project/main-and-cordova-mac/

BentallGreenOak (Canada) LP ($500,000): This 10-storey commercial office use building will demonstrate an innovative use of timber brace framing to withstand the effects of earthquakes in a tall building application. The design includes primarily commercial office space with some ground floor retail and outdoor amenity areas. (Design by DIALOG) https://www.naturallywood.com/project/2150-keith-drive/

Reliance Properties Ltd. ($500,000): A six-storey mixed-use commercial building that demonstrates an innovative use of mass timber-steel hybrid design to renovate a historic building. Built on top of an existing two-story historic warehouse, the four-storey mass timber addition will provide more density and new commercial office space for the area. (Design by office of macfarlane biggar architects + designers) https://www.naturallywood.com/project/837-beatty-street-rehabilitation-and-addition/

District of Saanich ($500,000): The redevelopment of Fire Station #2 will demonstrate how mass timber can be used in a “post disaster” building designed to withstand emergencies. The project will replace the present one-storey, 353 square-metre building with a two-storey 2,190 square-metre steel and timber post and beam system that will accommodate a fire training tower and emergency vehicles. (Design by HCMA Architecture + Design) https://www.naturallywood.com/project/district-of-saanich-fire-station-2-redevelopment/

First Nations Health Authority ($500,000): This six-storey building will demonstrate institutional use of mass timber supporting health and cultural activities. The design will expose as much mass timber as possible to evoke the plank house tradition of the Coast Salish people; space will be used for First Nations Health Authority employees as well as social spaces for gatherings, cultural activities and education. The building will target Rick Hansen Foundation certification for accessibility. (Design by DIALOG) https://www.naturallywood.com/project/first-nations-health-authority-metro-vancouver-office/

Bellevue Properties Partnership ($500,000): This eight-storey multi-family residential building will demonstrate innovative use of mass timber-hybrid structural, flooring and balcony systems in tall multi-family housing. Construction will target Passive House certification to meet carbon emission goals. (Design by Perkins and Will)  https://www.naturallywood.com/project/bellevue-and-22nd/

Westbank ($500,000): This 21-storey rental building will demonstrate mass timber-steel-concrete use in a tall building. The project will demonstrate cost-effective design solutions using materials for their highest value. Learning from the project will be shared as open source. The developers are aiming for the City of Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Plan standard. (Design by Henriquez Partners Architect) https://www.naturallywood.com/project/prototype/

Faction Projects ($137,000): This four-storey hybrid mixed-use building will demonstrate the feasibility of local trades, rather than factories, to produce mass timber panels. Local mass timber panel production using available suppliers and trades will create local jobs and reduce supply-stream risks. This project will also be used to educate the insurance and lending industry on mass timber to reduce premiums associated with mass timber buildings. Developers will pursue Step Three of the BC Energy Step Code, the highest level for buildings of this type in the Okanagan. (Design by Faction Architecture) https://www.naturallywood.com/project/the-exchange/

Canadian Wood Council, GHL Consultants, CHM Fire Consultants ($300,000): Mass timber demonstration fire tests will be used to educate key stakeholders about the performance of mass timber construction. Test data will support future code change proposals and new fire suppression systems. Cost shared with Natural Resources Canada, National Research Canada and other provincial governments, lessons learned will be shared with other jurisdictions in Canada.

Fast + Epp, GHL Consultants ($92,000): This research project will assess the transferability of international tall wood building codes to B.C. and Canada to advance the next generation use of wood in buildings in B.C. and Canada.

Morrison Hershfield ($105,000): The proponents will develop costing data on mass timber construction for wide use by developers, builders and other decision-makers. This will be especially pertinent as the B.C. Energy Step Code becomes more widely used to increase energy efficiency and meet CleanBC goals.

Athena Sustainable Materials Institute ($70,000): Lifecycle assessment research will demonstrate the carbon benefits of mass timber use and encourage wider adoption by building designers, policymakers and other decision-makers.