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Mid-Rise Resources for Ontario Practitioners

Mid-Rise wood-frame construction is now permitted in Ontario and Wood WORKS! is committed to connecting you with the information and resources you need to pursue these projects.  This page gathers mid-rise related documents and tools from various sources and presents them in one accessible spot.  Below you’ll find documents by Wood WORKS! and the Canadian Wood Council as well as links to publications by our partners and other organizations producing support materials for mid-rise construction with wood.  As always, our technical staff are also available to assist you with any project-related questions you may have.

A new guideline to enhance fire safety within and around mid-rise wood buildings while they are under construction is now available.  This Guideline complements the amendments to the Ontario Building Code which came into effect in January 2015 to allow mid-rise (five and six storey) buildings of wood frame construction.  The Guideline includes best practices and considerations for builders and others involved in the construction and protection of these buildings, but does not constitute a Regulation. Builders, construction workers, and municipal officials are strongly encouraged to take the best practices in this document into account in dealing with fire prevention and protection for mid-rise wood buildings during the process of construction.  The Guideline was developed by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH), the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) and the Ministry of Labour (MOL). This Guideline draws on the advice and experience of stakeholders in the building, design, fire protection, manufacturing, municipal enforcement and insurance sectors, as well as on documents and standards in other leading jurisdictions.  The Guideline has also been endorsed by the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) and the Canadian Wood Council. Should you have any questions about the guideline please contact the Building and Development Branch of MMAH at 416-585-6666.

Mid-Rise Education Online at the Wood WORKS! E-Learning Centre (ongoing updates)

Wood WORKS! and the Canadian Wood Council have assembled a prestigious international faculty of renowned Architects, Engineers, Researchers and Educators to present Professional Development programs that provide the most current information about wood design, engineering and construction. New courses are regularly added to the site.  Our most recent addition is a new Course Category with over 20 hours of content devoted to the topic of mid-rise wood buildings.  www.woodworkselearning.com 

Mid-Rise Wood Frame Construction Handbook (by FPInnovations, 2015)

FPInnovations’ Mid-Rise Wood Frame Construction Handbook consists of ten multi-disciplinary chapters, which have been prepared to facilitate the design and construction of mid-rise wood-frame construction (5- and 6-storey). The handbook captures in a single document the skills of many experts and specialists, and provides practical solutions that make use of the most recently developed technical and research information to assist designers, architects, and engineers.  The Handbook may be ordered directly from FPInnovations.

2015 Reference Guide: Mid-Rise Wood Construction in the Ontario Building Code (by Ontario Wood WORKS!, 2015)

This guide is based on a detailed code analysis and report by Morrison Hershfield (commissioned by Wood WORKS!). This new reference tool examines in detail the new OBC provisions related to Mid-Rise and Combustible construction. The intent of the tool is to help explain the provisions and provide the user with a better understanding of what is acceptable in Ontario.

Construction Site Fire Safety – A Guide for the Construction of Large Buildings (by the Canadian Wood Council and the University of the Fraser Valley, 2015)

The intent of this manual is to reduce the risk of and losses from construction site fires. The manual provides Canadian builders with practical tools and information based on best practice, legislation, regulation and standards from Canada, the United States and Europe.  While the focus of this manual is on the design, planning and construction phases for new buildings, the information may also be relevant to projects involving demolition, alteration, renovation, repair and maintenance of existing buildings.

Construction Site Fire Response – Preventing and Suppressing Fires During Construction of Large Buildings (by Len Garis, Paul Maxim, Larry Thomas and Karin Mark – University of the Fraser Valley, 2015)

Many Canadian fire departments have limited experience in preventing and suppressing fires at large-scale construction sites. However, fire departments can significantly reduce these risks by enhancing their knowledge of construction site processes and hazards, and through targeted and consistent fire prevention and suppression planning. The purpose of this report is to reduce the risk and losses from construction site fires by providing fire departments with information based on a review of best practice, legislation, regulation, and standards from across Canada, the United States and Europe.  The information is meant to enhance fire departments’ capacity and knowledge related to construction sites, but not replace their approved firefighting methods and procedures for high-risk sites.

Fire Safety and Security – a technical note on fire safety and security on construction sites in Ontario (by Ontario Wood WORKS! and the Canadian Wood Council, 2012)

The vulnerability of any building in a fire situation is higher during the construction phase when compared to the susceptibility of the building after it has been completed and occupied. This technical note reinforces the importance of compliance with provincial regulations related to fire safety planning during construction and the need for cooperation between all stakeholders in establishing the plan.

CMHC Housing Observer 2016 (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2016)

This 9-page document focuses on mid-rise residential wood construction. The clear, succinct overview presents sections on code changes, supporting research, advantages of mid-rise wood construction, construction methods for mid-rise wood buildings, construction site safety for wood buildings under construction, additional safety provisions, and implications for the housing industry.

Construction Fire Safety Practices Video (American Wood Council, 2016)

Fire prevention is everyone’s business. This 12-minute video focuses on construction site fire safety and introduces viewers to the American Wood Council’s new training program ‘Construction Fire Safety Practices’ which can be found online at www.constructionfiresafetypractices.com. Users can source training videos, PowerPoint presentations and three manuals intended to help the construction industry and fire departments prevent and minimize fires during construction.

Wood Solutions in Mid-Rise Construction (by Walker Consulting Group and Ontario Wood WORKS!, 2010)

This report contains some of the research findings from the Wood Solutions in mid-rise construction study. It highlights some of the opportunities, challenges, considerations and implications associated with expanded wood use in the mid-rise market sector in Ontario. The work included market analysis and the technical and practical aspects of introducing a Light Wood Frame (LWF) structural option to mid-rise buildings. Findings were compiled from in-depth interviews with over 40 experts and stakeholders.

Mid-Rise Wood-Frame Residential Construction in BC (by BC Wood WORKS!, 2015)

In cities across North America, the low-density sprawl that has characterized development since the mid-20th century is giving way to a growing landscape of mid-rise buildings; five- to six-storey structures that are more environmentally sustainable and cost effective because of their increased density — while still blending with existing neighbourhoods and helping to create livable communities that accommodate growing urban populations. This case study explores the expansion and popularity of mid-rise wood-frame residential design across the province of British Columbia.

Mountain Equipment Co-op Case Study (by BC Wood WORKS!, 2015)

This detailed case study of the MEC headquarters in Vancouver, BC demonstrates that solid wood systems for commercial buildings are a viable and desirable alternative to other forms of construction.  The structural system used is highly replicable.  In addition to information on the building’s architecture and structure as well as building code and construction considerations, the study includes information obtained through a benchmarking study that performed a comparative analysis of four hypothetical buildings in order to understand the potential cost differences using alternative vs. conventional materials.

Unlocking the Potential for Mid-Rise Buildings – Six Storey Wood Structures (by Paul J. Bedford FCIP, RPP for the Building Industry and Land Development Association, 2013)

This report (published before code changes affecting wood-frame mid-rise were made) presents a strong planning rationale for changing the existing Ontario Building Code to permit wood frame buildings to be constructed to a maximum of six storeys in order to unlock the immense potential of a new mid-rise market throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the Greater Golden Horseshoe and in many other cities throughout the province.  Development potential and the planning rationale for mid-rise are presented in this document. 

Avenues and Mid-Rise Buildings Study Final Report (by Brook McIlroy Planning + Urban Design / Pace Architects with E.R.A. Architects, Quadrangle Architects Limited, Urban Marketing Collaborative, 2010)

The Avenues and Mid-Rise Buildings Study recommends policies and processes that can be adopted by the City of Toronto to catalyze the reurbanization of the Avenues through the development of well-designed mid-rise buildings.  The report won four awards, including the RAIC’s National Urban Design Award.

Structural, Fire Protection and Building Envelope Professional Engineering Services for 5 and 6 Storey Wood Frame Residential Building Projects (Mid-Rise Buildings) (by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, 2009)

This bulletin provides detailed information on the increased level of complexity involved in engineering considerations which need to be addressed in going from 4 storey to mid-rise building projects. Where relevant, guidance provided in this bulletin is applicable for use on wood frame building projects of 4 storeys or less. It provides basic technical and practice guidance on structural, fire protection and building envelope professional engineering issues related to mid-rise buildings. This bulletin may also be referred to by other design professionals such as architects and other parties such as land owners, developers, approving officers, building inspectors, contractors, municipalities, regional districts and the general public.

Guide for Designing Energy-Efficient Building Enclosures for Wood-Frame Multi-Unit Residential Buildings in Marine to Cold Climate Zones in North America (by FPInnovations, RDH Building Engineering Ltd., the Homeowner Protection Office and the Canadian Wood Council, 2013)

This guide serves two major objectives: to assist architects, engineers, designers and builders in improving the thermal performance of building enclosures of wood multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs), in response to the increasingly stringent requirements for the energy efficiency of buildings in the marine to cold climate zones in North America (U.S. DOE/ASHRAE and NECB Climate Zones 5 through 7 and parts of Zone 4) and; to advance MURB design practices, construction practices, and material use based on best knowledge, in order to ensure the durable performance of wood-frame building enclosures that are insulated to higher levels than traditional wood-frame construction.

Vertical Movement in Wood Platform Frame – Basics (by FPInnovations and the Canadian Wood Council, 2013)

This document illustrates the causes and other basic information related to vertical movement in wood platform frame buildings and recommendations on material handling and construction sequencing to protect wood from rain and reduce the vertical movement.

Vertical Movement in Wood Platform Frame – Design and Detailing Solutions (by FPInnovations and the Canadian Wood Council, 2013)

Expands on the Vertical Movement in Wood Platform Frame – Basics document.  This document includes design solutions for building movement and recommendations on material handling and construction sequencing.

Acoustics Summary – Sound Insulation in Mid-Rise Wood Building (National Research Council of Canada, 2014)

This report summarizes the acoustics research component regarding sound insulation of elements and systems for the research project on mid-rise and larger wood buildings. The summary outlines the background, main research considerations, research conducted and major outcomes.The goal of the acoustics research components was to develop design solutions for mid-rise wood and wood-hybrid buildings that comply both with the current National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) 2010 requirements for direct sound insulation and with the anticipated requirements for flanking sound transmission in the proposed, 2015 version of the NBCC. In addition, the design solutions were to provide better impact sound insulation while still achieving code compliance for all other disciplines.

Building Envelope Summary – Hygrothermal Assessment of Systems for Mid-rise Wood Buildings (National Research Council of Canada, 2014)

This report summarizes the building envelope research team’s study of the mid-rise wood-frame and cross-laminated timber building envelope solutions developed by the fire research team to meet the fire provisions of the National Building Code (NBC) 2010 Part 3 Fire Protection, to determine if the solutions would also meet the NBC Part 5 Environmental Separation requirements relating to the protection of the building envelope from excessive moisture and water accumulation. The results of the hygrothermal performance evaluation procedure documented in this report identify the climate locations in Canada for which the LWF and CLT walls described in this study were deemed to meet the intent of NBC 2010 Part 5, and NECB 2011 Part 3.  As an overall conclusion, the fire control measures proposed for mid-rise walls as solutions to NBC 2010 Part 3 for fire performance should also be considered to be solutions for NBC 2010 Part 5 and NECB 2011 Part 3, with the additional insulation identified for Yellowknife (Zone 8) to meet NECB 2011.

Fire Safety Summary – Fire Research Conducted for the Project on Mid-Rise Wood Construction (National Research Council of Canada, 2014)

This report consolidates the results of fire research activities conducted including the investigation of the encapsulation approach to protect the combustible structural elements, development of wood-based generic exterior wall assemblies to limit exterior fire spread, and development of generic fire resistant light-weight wood-frame wall assemblies for applications in lower storeys of mid-rise wood buildings.  Among others, the minimum fire protection requirements included in the current NBC mid-rise code change proposals include the mandatory use of automatic sprinkler systems throughout the building. The designs of the fire experiments conducted under this research project do not take into account the impact of water that may be discharged from sprinklers during a fire. Sprinklers are highly effective in controlling or suppressing fires where fires are large enough to activate the sprinklers. Therefore, the NRC research documented in this report is only related to the cases where sprinklers are assumed to have failed to operate and/or control the fire in these mid-rise structures.

The Historical Development of the Building Size Limits in the National Building Code of Canada (by Sereca Consulting Inc. for the Canadian Wood Council, 2015)

Three years of research has culminated in this new report  that documents the history behind the current building height and area requirements in Subsection 3.2.2. of the National Building Code of Canada. The report compiles a significant body of historical information into a single document, presents a series of recommendations based on this information and concludes “Reconsideration of the building size limits in the current NBCC based on the recommendations outlined [in this report] will facilitate innovation in Canada without compromising safety.”