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 acceptable solutions in Division B of the anticipated 2020 NBCC limit the height of Groups C and D buildings of sprinklered encapsulated mass timber construction (EMTC) to 12 storeys in building height, and a measured building height of 42m. The recently published 2021 IBC contains provisions to permit buildings of mass timber construction under the IBC Type IV construction, surpassing the NBCC provisions by maximum building height, building area, occupancy groups, and interior exposed timber. The IBC mass timber buildings are permitted to have a building height of maximum 18 storeys, depending on the occupancy group. Within Type IV construction, four subdivisions are described to have varying maximum permissible building height, area, fire resistance rating (FRR), and interior exposed timber.
Through a comparison of mass timber provisions of both Codes, relevant research reports, test reports, industry standards, this report documents the consequential and inconsequential differences and developed conclusions on whether the NBCC can adopt the IBC provisions, and with what modifications so that the new provisions may fit the NBCC context.