This study illustrates the range of possible wood construction approaches for school buildings that are up to four storeys in height. As land values continue to rise, particularly in higher-density urban environments, schools with smaller footprints will become increasingly more necessary to satisfy enrollment demands. There are currently a number of planned new school projects throughout British Columbia that anticipate requiring either three-or four-storey buildings, and it is forecasted that the demand for school buildings of this size will continue to rise.
This study is closely related to the report Risk Analysis and Alternative Solution for Three- and Four-Storey Schools of Mass Timber and/or Wood-Frame Construction prepared by GHL Consultants, which explores the building code related considerations of wood construction for school buildings that are up to four storeys in height. Though wood construction offers a viable structural material option for these buildings, the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC 2018) currently limits schools comprised of wood construction to a maximum of two storeys, while also imposing limits on the overall floor area. As such, the reader is referred to the GHL report for further information regarding building code compliance (with a particular emphasis on fire protection) for wood school buildings.
The purpose of this guide is to provide an introduction to the concept of encapsulated mass timber construction. This guide provides an overview of encapsulation techniques for mass timber construction, and other related fire protection measures, and summarizes some approved encapsulation materials and application methods and identifies additional requirements for safety during construction. This guide is intended to help architects, engineers and designers by reducing uncertainty and allowing for more confidence in design, as well as providing authorities having jurisdiction and inspectors with a reference for simple design review.
Project contact is Yelda Turkan, Oregon State University
Over the past decade, fires have caused significant losses, both financial and through loss of lives, in timber buildings during construction (USFA 2020). Buildings under construction or in development are largely unprotected as they are not yet equipped with active fire protection systems (sprinklers), and for those buildings that are not designed for exposed timber, multiple floors are left exposed at a time as the fire protection trade trails in schedule behind the erection of the mass timber structural elements. With the addition of Type IVA, B, and C in the 2021 International Building Code (IBC), the IBC also adopted stricter requirements for mass timber buildings under construction. Under-construction mass timber buildings require that the mass timber is protected with noncombustible material within four levels of any construction more than six stories above grade. However, limited research has occurred to demonstrate that this construction sequence results in the optimal balance of safety, property loss, and cost.
The goals of this project are to: (a) develop a methodology to couple multiple commonly-used computational tools to evaluate the sequence of installation of passive fire protection in mass timber buildings under construction fire scenarios, (b) develop an analytical framework that can be implemented by industry to evaluate the risk and impact of fire protection construction sequencing on a job site while balancing property loss, cost, and life safety of construction workers due to a construction fire, and (c) identify knowledge gaps in fire dynamics in timber buildings that would increase the accuracy of predicting fire spread in mass timber buildings under construction.
These Joint Professional Practice Guidelines – Encapsulated Mass Timber Construction Up to 12 Storeys were jointly prepared by the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) and Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia.
The AIBC and Engineers and Geoscientists BC regulate and govern the professions of architecture, engineering, and geoscience under the Architects Act and the Professional Governance Act. The AIBC and Engineers and Geoscientists BC each have a regulatory mandate to protect the public interest, which is met in part by setting and maintaining appropriate academic, experience, and professional practice standards.
Engineering Professionals are required per Section 7.3.1 of the Bylaws - Professional Governance Act to have regard for applicable standards, policies, plans, and practices established by the government or by Engineers and Geoscientists BC, including professional practice guidelines. For Engineering Professionals, these professional practice guidelines clarify the expectations for professional practice, conduct, and competence when providing engineering services for EMTC buildings. For Architects, these guidelines provide important information and identify issues to be considered when providing architectural services for EMTC buildings. These guidelines deal with the performance of specific activities in a manner such that Architects and Engineering Professionals can meet their professional obligations under the Architects Act and the Professional Governance Act.
These guidelines were developed in response to new classifications of building size and construction relative to occupancy introduced in the 2018 British Columbia Building Code (BCBC), under Division B, Article 188.8.131.52EMTC. Group C, up to 12 storeys, Sprinklered, and Article 184.108.40.206EMTC. Group D, up to 12 storeys, Sprinklered. These new classifications were introduced in Revision 2 of the 2018 BCBC on December 12, 2019 and in Amendment 12715 of the 2019 Vancouver Building By-law (VBBL) on July 1, 2020. Additionally, provisions related to Encapsulated Mass Timber Construction (EMTC) were introduced in Revision 1 of the 2018 British Columbia Fire Code (BCFC) on December 12, 2019.
These guidelines were first published in 2021 to provide guidance on architectural and engineering considerations relating to these significant changes to the 2018 BCBC, the 2019 VBBL, and the 2018 BCFC. For Engineering Professionals, these guidelines are intended to clarify the expectations of professional practice, conduct, and competence when Engineering Professionals are engaged on an EMTC building. For Architects, these guidelines inform and support relevant competency standards of practice to be met when Architects are engaged on an EMTC building.
As with all building and construction types, the EMTC-specific code provisions prescribe minimum requirements that must be met. The majority of EMTC of 7 to 12 storeys are considered High Buildings, and as such are subject to the BCBC, Subsection 3.2.6. Additional Requirements for High Buildings.
Developed by ICC and American Wood Council, this first edition provides an overview of requirements for mass timber construction as found in the 2021 International Building Code® (IBC®). The document reviews the 2015 IBC’s recognition of cross-laminated timber (CLT), the reorganization of heavy timber provisions in the 2018 IBC, followed by the historic changes in the 2021 IBC and International Fire Code® (IFC®) for tall mass timber construction. The 2021 IBC and IFC include important changes in material technologies and their expanded use as proposed by the ICC Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings. Three new types of construction (Types IV-A, IV-B and IV-C) defined and included in the 2021 codes allow the use of mass timber for buildings of taller heights, more stories above grade, and greater allowable areas compared to existing provisions for heavy timber buildings.
More than 100 full-color photos, illustrations and tables enhance comprehension and help users visualize requirements
Content accurately reflects mass timber provisions in the 2015, 2018 and 2021 IBC, and 2021 IFC
“Change Significance” topics reinforce the content and offer helpful background regarding code provisions
Results are provided for five fire tests in a fully furnished structure constructed to simulate Types IV-A, IV-B and IV-C
Detailed examples facilitate comprehension of code application and methods of determining code compliance
Application of energy, sound transmission, structural loads, and other code provisions to mass timber construction
50 practice questions to help users prepare for ICC certification exams
This is an incredibly valuable and time-saving reference for architects, engineers, building/fire officials and inspectors.
The vulnerability of any building, regardless of the material used, in a fire situation is higher during the construction phase when compared to the susceptibility of the building after it has been completed and occupied. This is because the risks and hazards found on a construction site differ both in nature and potential impact from those in a completed building; and these risks are occurring at a time when the fire prevention elements that are designed to be part of the completed building are not yet in place. For these reasons, construction site fire safety includes some unique challenges. Developing an understanding of these hazards and their potential risks is the first step towards fire prevention and mitigation during the course of construction (CoC).