Utilizing Linear Dynamic Analysis (LDA) for designing steel and concrete structures has been common practice over the last 25 years. Once preliminary member sizes have been determined for either steel or concrete, building a model for LDA is generally easy as the member sizes and appropriate stiffness can be easily input into any analysis program. However, performing an LDA for a conventional wood-frame structure has been, until recently, essentially non-existent in practice. The biggest challenge is that the stiffness properties required to perform an LDA for a wood-based system are not as easily determined as they are for concrete or steel structures. This is mostly due to the complexities associated with determining the initial parameters required to perform the analysis.
With the height limit for combustible construction limited to four stories under the National Building Code of Canada, it was uncommon for designers to perform detailed analysis to determine the stiffness of shear walls, distribution of forces, deflections, and inter-storey drifts. It was only in rare situations where one may have opted to check building deflections. With the recent change in allowable building heights for combustible buildings from four to six storeys under an amendment to the 2006 BC Building Code, it has become even more important that designers consider more sophisticated methods for the analysis and design of wood-based shear walls. As height limits increase, engineers should also be more concerned with the assumptions made in determining the relative stiffness of walls, distribution of forces, deflections, and inter-storey drifts to ensure that a building is properly detailed to meet the minimum Code objectives.
Although the use of LDA has not been common practice, the more rigorous analysis, as demonstrated in the APEGBC bulletin on 5- and 6-storey wood-frame residential building projects (APEGBC 2011), could be considered the next step which allows one to perform an LDA. This fact sheet provides a method to assist designers who may want to consider an LDA for analyzing wood-frame structures. It is important to note that while LDA may provide useful information as well as streamline the design of wood-frame structures, it most often will not be necessary.