As we turn to 2022 and the implementation of our new Strategic Plan, we take a moment to look back at 2021 and the notable accomplishments achieved by AWC’s remarkable staff across a wide range of areas foundational to the success of this industry.
Group A Process: AWC scored major wins for our industry as part of the 2024 I-Codes Development process. The 2024 International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code will allow for fully exposed mass timber ceilings in buildings up to 12 stories.
The current provisions for no more than 20% exposed mass timber ceilings in Type IV-B construction has been revised to allow for fully exposed mass timber ceilings.
Leading the Industry Response: AWC led the industry response to lumber supply concerns, including being active with Congress, the Biden Administration, and media publications. President & CEO Jackson Morrill participated in several meetings with the White House Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and …
Video Case Study on Public-Private Partnerships a Hit: AWC kicked off National Forest Products Week with a robust panel discussion highlighting the public-private partnerships critical to the construction of the University of Idaho’s new mass timber basketball arena. The virtual event began with a viewing of a 10-minute video highlighting the vision of the project, the role of Wood Innovation Grants in proving the concept, the carbon benefits of building with wood products, and the industry’s strong role in seeing the project to fruition.
substituting mass timber for conventional building materials could reduce construction emissions by almost 70%
using wood in half of new urban construction could achieve emission reduction goals by 9%
AWC continued to support states and localities interested in adoption of the tall mass timber provisions. In 2021, 13 more states or localities either began the process or reached out to AWC to indicate interest in adopting the tall mass timber provisions. In total, with the provisions having only been officially released for one year, 19 states and cities have taken action or shown interest in incorporating tall mass timber into code.
In addition to working with legislatures and building code departments on incorporating tall mass timber provisions in to state and local codes, AWC’s Fire Service Engagement team has played a key role in educating local fire officials on all of the fire testing done prior to approval. For example, both AWC’s field staff and fire service team were actively engaged in Wisconsin, home to the 25-story Ascent building, as the state researched tall mass timber.
AWC continued to thwart attempts by competing building material groups to push anti-wood legislation, especially in what are now the typical targets of Los Angeles, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey. In Los Angeles in particular, AWC enlisted support from prominent groups, including the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles Business Council, and U.S. Green Building Council, and submitted a letter in opposition to the Los Angeles City Council. AWC also successfully encouraged the Environmental Defense Fund to oppose the motion in Los Angeles, adding an important environmental perspective to the debate and highlighting the potential negative environmental consequences of limiting wood construction.
Also in California, AWC staff successfully argued against making any revisions to ASTM E2632 that would have significantly altered a critical wood deck fire test in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas. The current test is used in California to show the acceptance of certain wood decking surface materials in WUI areas. A proposal would have expanded ASTM E2632 to require testing of the entire deck assembly, including joists. AWC pushed against any change to the current standard, arguing doing so would have jeopardized the acceptance of recognized decking materials. The committee ultimately voted – with AWC’s support – to write a new standard for the purpose of evaluating fire performance of the entire deck assembly. AWC is committed to participating in the development of this new standard.
After the Boston Globe’s “Real Estate” blog posted an article with negative comments about wood construction and troubling statements attributed to a Massachusetts Fire Chief, AWC worked on several fronts to respond. First, AWC teamed with a Massachusetts-based mass timber expert who submitted a rebuttal highlighting the safety measures taken in wood construction and the carbon benefits of mass timber. AWC staff submitted a letter correcting the story’s inaccurate characterization of code requirements and the code development process. The newspaper declined to publish the letter, so AWC posted it to the website.
AWC’s Fire Service Relations Manager Ray O’Brocki used the article as an opportunity to work behind the scenes to build relationships within the fire service and ensure AWC is seen as a resource. Ray reached out to the Fire Chief and set up an in-person meeting to hear his concerns and dispel some of the inaccuracies about engineered wood products mentioned in the blog piece and to offer training and resources. The Chief shared that he had no grave concerns about wood construction and said the reporter cherry-picked his interview comments, leading to the misrepresentation and negative tone. The productive meeting ended with the Chief, who teaches a building construction course at a local community college, inviting Ray to make a presentation to the class.
AWC has been a true partner to the fire service community for the nearly two decades I’ve been involved. AWC’s proactive outreach and measured approach is highly valued and it remains a great fire service resource for training and best practices.—SHANE RAY,
President of the National Fire Sprinkler Association and former State Fire Marshal
As AWC moves into its second decade, we continue to be uniquely positioned to advocate for the wood products industry on the front lines of codes and standards development and legislative and regulatory policymaking. What is new today, however, is that the industry sits at an important inflection point …