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Mass Timber Building in BC

April 20, 2021

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British Columbia (B.C.) is committed to supporting its forestry sector by helping to maintain, create and diversify markets for B.C. forest products. This ensures the forest sector continues to be a key contributor to the B.C. economy while applying world-class innovation and technologies. As part of this commitment, an increased focus has been placed on the adoption of high-value production in the form of mass timber. Using large, solid wood panels, columns or beams, mass timber is engineered to be load-bearing like concrete and steel but significantly lighter in weight. Thick, compressed layers of wood create structural elements that are environmentally friendly and complement light-frame and hybrid options.

Mass timber construction opens the door for new designs that are beautiful, strong and sustainable.

There is an ever-evolving number of options and systems when it comes to mass timber. Using various combinations and sizes, mass timber products can serve as beams, columns, floors, roofs, and walls after considering the directional strength of each of the wood products. In contrast to conventional concrete and steel systems that tend to follow standard templates, mass timber systems offer the potential for greater flexibility.

Where fires or earthquakes are a risk, mass timber offers significant value through its thermal properties and high performance in seismic conditions given that it is flexible, so it maintains strength despite movement during earthquakes, and in fires it is thick enough to char and self-extinguish.

Mass timber is sustainable because of its durability and lifespan, as well as its carbon storage capabilities. As trees grow, they consume carbon dioxide (CO2), chemically locking the gas away. Using wood as a building material keeps the carbon captured until the wood degrades, and mass timber products have impressive longevity. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry calculated that a 14% to 31% reduction in global CO2 emissions could be realized by substituting wood for concrete and steel in building and bridge construction.

As with many growing industries, British Columbia’s mass timber sector is creating jobs and generating opportunities. The BC Provincial Nominee Program  provides a permanent immigration pathway for in-demand workers, who, once entering B.C. and begin work are eligible to apply for permanent residence for themselves and their dependents.

There has also been a steady rise in the number of women in the industry in recent years and a push to generate more attention from the female workforce. Industry magazines Canadian Forest IndustriesCanadian Biomass and Pulp & Paper Canada encourage women to join the industry though campaigns like the Women in Forestry series. The launch of the Women in Forestry Virtual Summit in 2021 builds upon the success of the series.

Learn more about opportunities in mass timber in British Columbia and the advantages of locating on Canada’s beautiful west coast. Contact a Trade and Invest BC representative near you. Follow Trade and Invest British Columbia on LinkedIn or Twitter for regular updates.

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Trade and Invest BC helps facilitate foreign direct investment and has Trade and Investment Representatives in markets around the world. Contact the representative nearest you for support in investing in British Columbia.