Canadian Contractor

Masons launch campaign against National Building Code's anticipated wood-frame provisions

Canadian Contractor

November 13, 2013
By Brynna Leslie

“An attack ad has reignited a simmering feud between the Canadian wood industry and rival groups in the construction sector,” according to an article in the Edmonton Journal.

Since British Columbia introduced its Wood First Act in 2009, the Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association (CCMPA) has been doing what it can do discredit wood structures. The National Building Code to be released in 2015 is also expected to allow for six-storey wood-framed structures, which the CCMPA believes is a dangerous precedent.

“In Canada, over the past several years, there has been a political push across the country by the wood industry to advance wood-friendly policies,” noted the CCMPA in a press release.

“These political policies are wholly self-indulgent. They limit and undermine the professional freedom and good judgment of a designer to choose the best material for the application. They undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the building codes. They legislate advantage, protection, and gain for one industry at the expense of others by interfering with market-driven forces and restricting fair and open competition.”

Most recently the CCMPA has put full-page ads in major Canadian newspapers, including the Toronto Star and the Edmonton Journal. The ads feature pictures of the Oklahoma tornado in May this year, with a caption that reads “Wood first?” The CCMPA claims wood is inferior to other materials, due to its susceptibility to insects, weather and fire.

“We ignite wood in our firepits and fireplaces,” the CCMPA writes. “There can be no more simple and demonstrative evidence that wood burns. It is this basic.”

“I’m not quite sure why they’re picking on us,” Michael Giroux, president of the Canadian Wood Council, told the Edmonton Journal. “It is unfortunate to see an ad like that. It does seem misplaced. They seem to be talking about another era of wood products. There have been a lot of advances made. There are much stronger, safer and more sophisticated products now.”



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3 Comments » for Masons launch campaign against National Building Code's anticipated wood-frame provisions
  1. Emile Rocher, P. Eng. says:

    It’s interesting to see the concrete industry attacking expanded applications for wood in construction just as they did when wood foundations became popular ” build a lasting foundation” was the ad line in countless TV spots. It must have cost a fortune and had the desired effect. Hardly anyone build foundations out of wood now.
    Unprecedented floods in Alberta revealed some interesting constrasts. The foundations which fared the worst were concrete block with numerous collapsing walls while the least costly to repair apart from ICF concrete were the wood foundations. Wood foundations have about 1/2 the material cost and a fraction of the embodied carbon of concrete , the manufacture of which produces more greenhouse gases than the airline industry. Perhaps it’s time for the Canadian Wood Council to up the ante with ” build a green foundation” since preserved wood captures carbon in permanent storage.

  2. Masons are right to be pissed with the authors of the National Building Code. The standards we as Masons currently accept in our own industry are pathetic.
    But we have no right to point the finger at the wood industry, its our own fault for allowing Masonry’s standards to sink so low, and for allowing disposable building systems to replace the lasting value of masonry.

    As an example, I spent a day this week taking down a chimney made of J. Price bricks. This chimney was old, but every brick from the rafters down was sound, clean and reusable. On my way home, I drove through a 20-year old neighbourhood where the bricks were already falling off the chimneys and walls. Modern Masonry products are a joke and border on theft in terms of their lasting value.
    So, who’s fault is it that the construction industry wants to minimize the contributions of Masonry?

  3. Hans Eich says:

    Isn’t it common knowledge in the construction industry by now, that large diameter wood beams handle better in a fire than a large diameter poured concrete pillar?

    I should also ad that the wood construction industry also has it coming unless they start changing and accepting better techniques. A lot of the construction I see these days is simply not built to last, and potentially even dangerous for health and safety. There are safe ways to use wood and concrete. Each methodology just needs to be done right. (Although Concrete still has much more embedded energy in it)

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