The Canadian Wood Council and Wood WORKS! BC have announced the release of two technical reports and one cost comparison report related to the use of mass timber and/or wood-frame construction in taller schools than currently permitted under the BC Building Code. Some BC school boards have identified the need for larger 3- and 4-storey schools, and mass timber/light wood-frame provides a sustainable cost-effective option for meeting this need.  Only two-storey wood schools are allowed under the existing BC code. It is important to recognize that solutions that are not included in the building code can be viable solutions but have not yet been explored or put forward to the national and provincial building code committees.  Three- and four-storey schools require an Alternative Solution for an approved building permit.

Titled Design Options for Three-and Four-Storey Wood School Buildings in BC, and Risk Analysis and Alternative Solution for 3- and 4-Storey Schools, the first two reports illustrate viable timber construction approaches that offer the same level of performance relative to fire safety as currently required by the building code.

A third report compares the total expected costs of the three different wood solutions with a comparable steel-designed solution.  While the wood designs are more cost-effective, particularly the hybrid mass timber and light wood-frame option, all options are relatively close in cost and are below the cost of the steel option. 

It is hoped that these studies will inspire school boards to use wood for taller schools in urban areas, toward healthier lower-carbon, higher-density buildings for better living and learning.   

Download your copies of the reports below:

Design Options for Three- and Four-Storey Wood School Buildings in BC Final

Risk Analysis and Alternative Solution for Three- and Four-Storey Schools of Mass Timber and Wood-Frame Construction

Four-Storey Wood School Design in British Columbia: An Analysis of Structural System Cost Comparisons