Green Construction through Wood (GCWood) Program - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of Green Construction through Wood (GCWood) Program?

The new Green Construction through Wood (GCWood) Program is designed to promote and increase the use of wood as a building material option across the construction industry in Canada. The benefits it aims to achieve include economic growth and GHG emission reductions.

How long will the GCWood Program run?

The program was announced in Budget 2017 and will run for four years, starting on April 1, 2018, and ending March 31, 2022.

Which types of activities will be carried out under the GCWood Program?

Key activities to be conducted under the GCWood Program will include:

  1. Research and development aimed at facilitating changes to the National Building Code of Canada that will allow for taller and larger wood buildings and will support the development of future performance-based building code;
  2. Advanced training and education, and development of design tools for architects, engineers and builders, including course curriculums, costing tools and life-cycle assessment tools; and
  3. Demonstration projects to encourage the commercial and regulatory uptake of wood in construction projects such as high-rise buildings, low-rise commercial buildings and timber bridges.
How does the GCWood Program differ from the previous Tall Wood Building Demonstration Initiative (TWBDI)?

The TWBDI was effective in advancing tall wood projects (i.e., those greater than 10 storeys) and in supporting the current code change process to allow tall wood buildings. It was delivered with modest funding over four years, from 2013–2017.

The GCWood Program is much larger and broader in scope. It has nearly 10 times the budget for demonstration projects, and its mandate expands the use of wood beyond high-rise buildings to include hybrid buildings, low-rise commercial buildings, and timber bridges. This is in addition to supporting code changes and advanced training and education for designers, builders and architects.

What lessons from the TWBDI have informed the GCWood Program?

The TWBDI identified several impediments to the broad commercial and regulatory uptake of wood for non-traditional construction applications. The GCWood Program is designed to tackle these impediments. For example:

  1. Lack of regulatory acceptance of wood use in high-rise buildings. There is a need to invest in revising Canadian building codes to allow for the design and construction of tall wood buildings.
  2. Lack of integration between the building design process and the construction process. The need to involve construction managers and construction trades in the design process in order to maximize prefabrication opportunities in tall wood buildings. Prefabrication helps streamline both supply chain considerations (such as materials sourcing, coordination, costs and scheduling) and the overall construction process.
  3. Lack of support by building authorities and other stakeholders such as the insurance industry. The need to engage with building authorities, the insurance industry and other stakeholders to ensure they are well informed about the facts and benefits of using wood for tall buildings and other large-scale construction projects.
  4. Lack of validation of new design concepts related to the innovative use of wood in tall wood buildings and other large-scale construction projects. The need for more research and development activities to better demonstrate wood performance in large-scale construction projects and so ensure regulatory acceptance.
How will demonstration projects be selected?

Successful projects will be identified through an open and transparent competitive process that assesses the technical and business viability against mandatory and rated evaluation criteria. An expert panel will review and rank projects.

How will GCWood Program funds be dispersed?

Non-repayable contributions will be provided to approved projects through contribution agreements. Only eligible activities related to the design, approval, and construction process of building with wood will be funded under this program (see the Application Guide).

Will the approved projects be publicly announced?

Yes. Natural Resources Canada will publicly announce the projects selected for funding, after contribution agreements are signed.

What are incremental costs?

Incremental costs are defined as additional costs exclusively incurred, and deemed of incremental necessity, for constructing an innovative building in wood. They include costs for research and development associated with the design, approval, and construction among others.

How will GHG reductions achieved by the program’s demonstration projects be determined?

Supported projects under the GCWood Program must demonstrate how the wood-built solution proposed will reduce or mitigate GHG emissions compared with the level of GHG emissions associated with the construction of a similar structure that uses traditional building materials and systems.

Demonstration projects will also be required to provide an estimate of the carbon dioxide equivalent (COe) mitigated (and show how that estimate was calculated).

All of these estimates will be combined to determine the overall direct impact of the demonstration projects. As well, the data will be used to determine the indirect impact or influence the program has had on GHG emission avoidance and sequestration in the construction industry.

Is there a risk of the GCWood Program’s funding creating an unfair advantage for the wood products industry over those industries producing traditional construction materials?

The GCWood Program aims to give designers, builders and consumers more construction options. To that end, it supports expanding the choices available in the marketplace and updating building codes to reflect the latest scientific, technical and environmental knowledge. The successful demonstration of wood use in high-rise and non-traditional construction will enable wood to compete on a level playing field with other building materials while addressing climate change by mitigating GHG emissions.

The program will also, through the demonstration projects and the advanced education components it funds, encourage hybrid building solutions—that is, the use of a range of building materials to meet the demands of tall building construction. The 18-storey wood building at the University of British Columbia, for example, was constructed mainly of mass timber, but also included a concrete first storey and two concrete service shafts.