Tall Wood Building Demonstration Initiative (TWBDI)

The Tall Wood Building Demonstration Initiative (TWBDI) has concluded. From 2013 to 2017, the Expanding Market Opportunities Program managed the TWBDI with the goal of fostering commercial and regulatory uptake of tall wood buildings in Canada. Support for tall wood buildings, as well as low-rise wood commercial buildings and timber bridges, continues through the Green Construction Through Wood (GCWood) Program.

The TWBDI linked new scientific advances with technical expertise to showcase the application, feasibility and environmental benefits of innovative wood-based structural solutions for wood buildings greater than 10 storeys.

The TWBDI supported the planning, design and construction of two tall wood building demonstration projects in Canada:

Brock Commons Tallwood House
TWBDI contribution: $2.33 million

  • Tallest contemporary wood building in the world as of September 2017
  • 18-storey hybrid mass timber student residence at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver: 17-storeys of mass timber construction above a one-storey concrete podium with 2 concrete stair and elevator shafts
  • Building structure made with three Canadian mass timber products: cross-laminated timber floor panels, glue-laminated columns and parallel strand lumber columns.
  • Housing for just over 400 students
  • Prefabrication of the structural wood elements helped the building go up 2 months ahead of schedule
  • Project completed in May 2017; occupancy in July 2017
  • TWBDI funds contributed to design, approval, construction, structural and fire testing, protocols for site efficiency and safety
  • Time-lapse video of Brock Commons Tallwood House (Video has no narration, but on-screen text is English-only)
 Mohammad Mohammad, Natural Resources Canada

Brock Commons is an 18-storey hybrid mass timber student residence at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Origine Eco-Condos
TWBDI contribution: $1.2 million

  • Tallest all-wood condominium in North America (once completed)
  • 13-storey mass timber condominium: 12 storeys of mass timber on top of a one-storey concrete podium and an underground parking garage
  • Elevator and stairwell shafts made with Canadian cross-laminated timber
  • Building design based on the EMO-funded Technical Guide for the Design and Construction of Tall Wood Buildings in Canada published by FPInnovations, Canada’s national forest research institute
  • TWBDI funds supported design, approval and construction as well as critical research about fire resistance and acoustics
  • Time-lapse video of construction of Origine
 EBC/NORDIC/Synchro

Origine Eco-Condos is a 13-storey mass timber condominium in Quebec City.
Photo: EBC/NORDIC/Synchro

Technical information developed through research funded by the TWBDI is being used to support proposed changes to the 2020 edition of the National Building Code of Canada. These proposed changes, which are currently under review, aim to level the playing field for wood as a construction material. The new GCWood program will carry on supporting the code change process and provide additional funding for research and development activities to inform the development of future building codes and standards.

For more on tall wood buildings