California adopts suite of high-rise timber regulations

By Antonio Pacheco, Archinect News

The California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) has adopted a series of new code regulations that pave the way for the state to begin to implement the widespread construction of tall mass timber buildings. 

In late August, the CBSC moved to advance the adoption of recommendations made for the 2021 International Building Code that would articulate regulations for the creation of mass timber structures rising up to 18 stories in height using Type IV-A construction. With Type IV-B construction, the new regulations will allow buildings up to 12 stories tall, while Type IV-C codes will shape towers rising 9 stories high.

In a statement announcing the adoption of the new codes, State Fire Marshal Mike Richwine explains that “The early adoption of mass timber codes can be a benefit to California in many ways, but I would like to highlight three of those advantages in this proposal. Number 1, it has the potential to increase the market demand for mass timber production in California to meet the needs of the construction industry. Number 2, it will increase the pace and scale of our wildland fire prevention and forest management goals of treating 500 thousand acres per year by thinning the forest of smaller diameter trees that can be used in the production of cross laminated timber and other mass timber assemblies. And while wood products provide the benefit of storing carbon, another benefit or advantage is that mass timber construction can also help reduce the carbon footprint of concrete and steel production.” 

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