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OR First State to Codify Timber High-Rises

Thursday, August 30, 2018

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The state of Oregon updated its building code earlier this month by becoming the first state in the country to allow timber buildings to rise more than six stories without special consideration.

The New Code

The Building Code Division issued an addendum to the Statewide Alternate Method—an Oregon program that allows for alternative building techniques to be used after an advisory council has approved the method—detailing the new classifications of timber buildings, of which there are three.

© iStock.com / mtreasure

The state of Oregon updated its building code earlier this month by becoming the first state in the country to allow timber buildings to rise more than six stories without special consideration.

The three new types of construction are all organized under Type IV, more commonly referred to as “heavy timber.” They are:

  • Type IV A - buildings with an automatic sprinkler system that require three-hour fire-resistance-rated primary structural frame elements and bearing walls, with two-hour fire-resistance-rated floors. Exposed timber surfaces must be entirely encapsulated. For certain occupancies or uses, Type IV A buildings are permitted to achieve 18 stories and 270 feet in building height.
  • Type IV B - buildings with an automatic sprinkler system that require two-hour fire-resistance-rated primary structural frame elements and bearing walls, with two-hour fire-resistance-rated floors. A calculated percentage of the exposed timber surfaces may remain exposed under this type, as established in Section 602.4.2.2.2 of the alternate. For certain occupancies or uses, Type IV B buildings are permitted to achieve 12 stories and 180 feet in building height.
  • Type IV C - buildings with an automatic sprinkler system that require two-hour fire-resistance-rated primary structural frame elements and bearing walls, with two-hour fire-resistance-rated floors. Exposed timber surfaces are permitted to remain entirely exposed under this type. For certain occupancies or uses, Type IV C buildings are permitted to achieve nine stories and 85 feet in building height.

The addendum goes on to say that the “statewide alternate method intentionally reinforces the notion that the state building code is not a barrier to innovation or any method, technique or material of construction that is supported by scientific findings, while further preserving Oregon’s ability to serve as a single place to obtain statewide approval, providing a predictable regulatory system of business.”

“We congratulate the State of Oregon on becoming the first state to provide building code recognition for construction of tall, mass timber buildings,” said American Wood Council President & CEO Robert Glowinski.

“Mass timber is a new category of wood products that will revolutionize how America builds and we’ve seen interest in it continue to grow over the last several years. This action by the Codes Division Administrator helps code officials in Oregon by making provisions consistent throughout the state. In adopting this new method, Oregon has also recognized the significant environmental benefits that accrue from greater wood product use.”

The addendum follows a number of suggestions made by the International Code Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings. Other suggestions included introducing standards and best practices for fireproofing, the load-bearing potential of cross-laminated timber and heavy timber, water resistance, sealing and seismic ratings.

   

Tagged categories: Building codes; Condominiums/High-Rise Residential; ICC; Regulations; Wood

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