In wood-frame buildings of three or more stories, cumulative shrinkage can be significant and have an impact on the function and performance of finishes, openings, mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) systems, and structural connections. However, as more designers look to wood-frame construction to improve the cost and sustainability of their mid-rise projects, many have learned that accommodating wood shrinkage is actually very straightforward. This publication will describe procedures for estimating wood shrinkage and provide detailing options that minimize its effects on building performance.
The growing availability and code acceptance of mass timber—i.e., large solid wood panel products such as cross laminated timber (CLT) and nail-laminated timber (NLT)—for floor, wall and roof construction has given designers a low-carbon alternative to steel, concrete, and masonry for many applications. However, the use of mass timber in multi-family and commercial buildings presents unique acoustic challenges.
While laboratory measurements of the impact and airborne sound isolation of traditional building assemblies such as light wood-frame, steel and concrete are widely available, fewer resources exist that quantify the acoustic performance of mass timber assemblies. Additionally, one of the most desired aspects of mass timber construction is the ability to leave a building’s structure exposed as finish, which createsthe need for asymmetric assemblies. With careful design and detailing, mass timber buildings can meet the acoustic performance expectations of most building types.
For many years, exposed heavy timber framing elements have been permitted in U.S. buildings due to their inherent fire-resistance properties. The predictability of wood’s char rate has been well-established for decades and has long been recognized in building codes and standards. Today, one of the exciting trends in building design is the growing use of mass timber—i.e., large solid wood panel products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) and nail-laminated timber (NLT)—for floor, wall and roof construction. Like heavy timber, mass timber products have inherent fire resistance that allows them to be left exposed and still achieve a fire-resistance rating. Because of their strength and dimensional stability, these products also offer an alternative to steel, concrete, and masonry for many applications, but have a much lighter carbon footprint. It is this combination of exposed structure and strength that developers and designers across the country are leveraging to create innovative designs with a warm yet modern aesthetic, often for projects that go beyond traditional norms.
This paper has been written to support architects and engineers exploring the use of mass timber for commercial and multi-family construction. It focuses on how to meet fire-resistance requirements in the International Building Code (IBC), including calculation and testing-based methods. Unless otherwise noted, references refer to the 2018 IBC.
This paper is intended for developers and owners seeking to purchase insurance for mass timber buildings, for design/construction teams looking to make their designs and installation processes more insurable, and for insurance industry professionals looking to alleviate their concerns about safety and performance.
For developers, owners and design/construction teams, it provides an overview of the insurance industry, including its history, what affects premiums, how risks are analyzed, and how project teams can navigate coverage for mass timber buildings. Insurance in general can seem like a mystery—what determines premium fluctuations, impacts of a strong vs. weak economy, and the varying roles of brokers, agents and underwriters. This paper will explain all of those aspects, focusing on the unique considerations of mass timber projects and steps that can be taken to make these buildings more insurable.
For insurance brokers, underwriters and others in the industry, this paper provides an introduction to mass timber, including its growing use, code recognition and common project typologies. It also covers available information on fire performance and post-fire remediation, moisture impacts on building longevity, and items to watch for when reviewing specific projects.
The 2021 International Building Code (IBC) introduced three new construction types—Type IV-A, IV-B and IV-C—which allow tall mass timber buildings. For details on the new types and their requirements, see the WoodWorks paper, Tall Wood Buildings in the 2021 IBC – Up to 18 Stories of Mass Timber. This paper builds on that document with an in-depth look at the requirements for shaft walls, including when and where wood can be used.
Changes to the 2021 International Building Code (IBC) have created opportunities for wood buildings that are much larger and taller than prescriptively allowed in past versions of the code. Occupant safety, and the need to ensure fire performance in particular, was a fundamental consideration as the changes were developed and approved. The result is three new construction types—Type IV-A, IV-B and IV-C—which are based on the previous Heavy Timber construction type (renamed Type IV-HT), but with additional fire protection requirements.
One of the main ways to demonstrate that a building will meet the required level of passive fire protection, regardless of structural materials, is through hourly fire-resistance ratings (FRRs) of its elements and assemblies. The IBC defines an FRR as the period of time a building element, component or assembly maintains the ability to confine a fire, continues to perform a given structural function, or both, as determined by the tests, or the methods based on tests, prescribed in Section 703.
FRRs for the new construction types are similar to those required for Type I construction, which is primarily steel and concrete. They are found in IBC Table 601, which includes FRR requirements for all construction types and building elements; however, other code sections should be checked for overriding provisions (e.g., occupancy separation, shaft enclosures, etc.) that may alter the requirement.
Concealed spaces, such as those created by a dropped ceiling in a floor/ceiling assembly or by a stud wall assembly, have unique requirements in the International Building Code (IBC) to address the potential of fire spread in nonvisible areas of a building. Section 718 of the 2018 IBC includes prescriptive requirements for protection and/or compartmentalization of concealed spaces through the use of draft stopping, fire blocking, sprinklers and other means.
As the height of mass timber buildings continues to grow, a new set of design and detailing challenges arises, creating the need for new engineering solutions to achieve optimal building construction and performance. One necessary detailing consideration is vertical movement, which includes column shrinkage, joint settlement, and creep. The main concerns are the impact of deformations on vertical mechanical systems, exterior enclosures, and interior partitions, as well as differential vertical movement of timber framing systems relative to other building features such as concrete core walls and exterior façades.
It is fairly common for mid-rise wood buildings to include shaft walls made from other materials. However, wood shaft walls are a code-compliant option for both light-frame and mass timber projects—and they typically have the added benefits of lower cost and faster installation.
This paper provides an overview of design considerations, requirements, and options for light wood-frame and mass timber shaft walls under the 2018 and 2021 IBC, and considerations related to non-wood shaft walls in wood buildings.