Valued for its natural beauty, strength, and versatility, wood offers endless possibilities in architecture and design. Conveying warmth and sophistication, it can be used as a load-bearing structure and an interior finish material. Mass timber construction is capturing the imaginations of leading building and design professionals, who continue to evolve and advance its potential.
Mass timber is a new category of wood product that can revolutionize how America builds. It is comprised of multiple solid wood panels nailed or glued together, which provide exceptional strength and stability. It’s a strong, low-carbon alternative to concrete and steel. Mass timber building designs are pioneering better places for us to live and work, and new code changes were passed for the 2021 code cycle that allow mass timber buildings up to 18 stories tall.
In January 2019, the International Code Council (ICC) approved a set of proposals to allow tall wood buildings as part of the 2021 International Building Code (IBC).
Based on these proposals, the 2021 IBC will include three new construction types:
These new types are based on the existing Heavy Timber construction type (renamed Type IV-HT) but with specified hourly fire-resistance ratings for building elements and added levels of noncombustible protection. The code will include provisions for up to 18 stories of Type IV-A construction for Business and Residential Occupancies.
In terms of fire protection, building codes require all buildings to perform to the same level of safety regardless of materials. Wood buildings can be designed to meet rigorous standards for performance, which is why the International Building Code (IBC) allows the use of wood in a wide range of building types.