As ICC prepares to vote on codes for tall wood buildings, opposition is still strong

Influential body will vote in October on new provisions to allow 18-story wood-framed structures.

September 13, 2018 |

As The International Code Council prepares for a vote on new code provisions that would allow wood-framed structures up to 18 stories high, concerns and opposition are still strong.

For instance, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) sponsored an online survey resulting in 75% of respondents saying they did not believe raising the allowable height of wood buildings was prudent. Their reasons included concerns over the strength and maintainability of wood, the danger of fire, and vulnerability to disasters.

Some members of the ICC's Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings shared some of those concerns. Proponents of wood-framed high rises point to research indicating that charring of heavy timber allows wood structures to maintain up to 90% of their strength during a fire.

Oregon recently became the first state to enact codes for high-rise, wood-framed buildings. The ICC will hold a public comment hearing on the issue after its annual conference in October. Later, online voting on the new code provision will be held over two weeks.

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