Stop tall wood – it’s started

You know it had to come. A US-based initiative is now up and running called “Stop tall Wood”. You can check out more by clicking here. According to their website; “Three in four or 74 percent of Americans say proposals to allow taller buildings to be constructed with wood raises serious concerns for public safety. When asked about proposals to change the nation’s model building codes to raise to 18 the number of stories that can be built using wood products, respondents from a survey expressed worry over building structure and fire safety. These proposals will be voted on in October by the International Code Council (ICC), which develops the model building code”.

It doesn’t elaborate as to who is funding and running the initiative but there is a quote from the President of the Portland Cement Association included on their website. “Most people don’t know what materials were used to build their home, school, hospital or office building – so the building codes that shaped those construction decisions are way off their radar,” said Portland Cement Association (PCA) President and CEO Michael Ireland. “We wanted to take the pulse of Americans to learn what they think about proposals to build taller structures using wood, and we got a very clear picture: they don’t like it.”

In a similar vein, another recent article is suggesting that under current building codes, Los Angeles could be facing billions of dollars in losses over the coming years due to wood-framed construction fires. In addition to study results from two California fires, quotes used in the article get quite emotive. "I lost most of my belongings, the family dog, nearly everything due to an electrical fire that burned my wood-framed childhood home".

The article goes on, "It could have so easily been prevented had there not been tinder. In a flash, everything was consumed," says Rabbi Klein of his childhood home. "Thank God my parents survived. No one should have to experience that kind of a loss, which is why I'm a big advocate for safer building materials."

Rabbi is a member of Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. So, the gloves are off - well in the US at this stage anyway. Obviously, the recent activity by architects, engineers and developers in using wood for tall timber buildings is of increasing concern to key suppliers of more traditional building materials.

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