Code Changes Pave Way for CLT in Tall Buildings and Spark Flammability Debate

Candles in a row with black background

The new codes will be included in the 2021 edition of the IBC, pending the announcement of official results in the first quarter of 2019.

May 13, 2019
Sam Barnes - Construction Executive

Although nothing new, the debate over which is better as a building material—wood or concrete—intensified in December following the preliminary approval of new codes for cross-laminated timber and mass timber in tall structures.

The discussion among industry professionals has been less about CLT’s structural capabilities and more about its perceived flammability, with either side offering decidedly different perspectives. Comparatively new to the United States, CLT and mass timber products are constructed of several layers of pressed lumber board stacked in alternating directions.

In December, the International Code Council released the unofficial voting results on several code change proposals, including passage of the entire package of 14 tall mass timber codes. The proposals were presented by the ICC’s Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings, comprised mostly of engineers, architects, building and fire code officials, fire service, materials and testing lab representatives.

Reprinted courtesy of Sam Barnes, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.


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