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INNOVATION NATION: Tall wood demonstration initiative encourages Ontario builders to create buildings over 10 storeys
November 29th, 2017 3:55 pm     A+ | a-


Paul De Berardis and Michael de Lint / RESCON

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), which wants to encourage more green construction, recently launched the Green Construction through Wood program.  

The GCWood program will cover up to 100 per cent of the eligible incremental cost for the  tall wood building, up to a maximum of $5 million per project.

The funding is intended to offset the cost of adopting this green innovation  and to support the development of knowledge and tools to support the success of future projects across Canada.

This CGWood program builds off the success of the earlier Tall Wood Building Demonstration Initiative which funded two successful demonstration projects: the “Origine” building in Quebec City – the tallest all-wood condominium building in North America at 13 storeys; and the 18-storey Brock Commons Tallwood House student residence on the University of British Columbia campus – the tallest hybrid wood building in the world .

 Now it’s Ontario’s opportunity to join the club.


Moreover, this program checks off all the right boxes:

 - It supports environmentally friendly, green construction.

- The wood construction process using pre-engineered timber components fabricated off-site, is very quick, quiet and clean, reducing disruption in existing communities.

- Wood buildings create a very user-friendly indoor environment that contributes to occupant well-being (including lower blood pressure).

- The use of pre-engineered timber components supports Ontario jobs in value-added manufacturing.

Recently, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, with the participation of RESCON and other stakeholders, produced a valuable reference guide to assist designers and building departments in designing and reviewing, respectively, tall wood building designs for compliance with alternative solutions under Ontario’s Building Code.

The document is called “Ontario’s Tall Wood Building Reference” and is not yet available online pending French translation but can be obtained in hard-copy form from RESCON.


“This program should not be viewed as an architectural design competition aimed at iconic standalone projects,” says architect Marco VanderMaas, an expert in wood buildings and member of RESCON’s technical council. “Wood has intrinsic qualities that make engineered timber an attractive and safe building system for everyday condominium, office, mixed-use and institutional buildings. Using wood in this context will really help to bring mass timber into the mainstream.”

Architect Marco VanderMaas

The four-year GCWood Program initiative was launched this month and will end on March 31, 2022.

Please note the very short time frame: Applications are due Wednesday, Dec. 6.

Details can be found at NRCAN’s website

Paul De Berardis is RESCON’s director of innovation and building science. Michael de Lint is RESCON’s director of building regulatory reform and technical standards. Email them at and

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