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The Wood WORKS! program has met with success and continues to expand across the country. 

By Jim Stirling

Wood WORKS!, a national, industry-led initiative spearheaded by the Canadian Wood Council and industry partners, continues to grow and expand across Canada, promoting the increased use of wood in commercial, industrial and institutional construction. Its primary goals include furthering the use and reputation of wood as a superior building product and stimulating the creation of new and hitherto untapped markets for wood products. 

Wood WORKS! began in 1998 with a wood use promotion campaign in Prince George, British Columbia. A similar program was launched shortly thereafter in the Saguenay/Lac St Jean region of Quebec. Broadening the horizons for wood use, Wood WORKS! spread to Grande Prairie, Alberta in 1999, North Bay, Ontario in 2000 and Moncton, New Brunswick in 2001. 

Across the country, targeted and extensive media campaigns have worked in harmony with fostering development of closer working relationships with governments, their agencies, construction specifiers and contractors. This unyielding focus on wood's versatility and quality has paid off. "The impact of Wood WORKS! is profound and has resulted in numerous high profile buildings such as airport terminals, schools, fire halls and hospitals being constructed of wood in various regions of Canada," says Etienne Lalonde, Wood WORKS! national project manager. 

He adds that through the efforts of Wood WORKS! "Build with Wood" policies have been adopted by more than 575municipalities and resulted in the construction of $300 million of wood buildings that were originally planned in steel and concrete.

“Build with Wood” policies have been adopted by more than 575 municipalities and resulted in the construction of $300 million of wood buildings.

Prince George City Council supports a resolution requesting the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to urge the federal government to establish a "Canada Builds a Wood Culture" policy. The idea is to make building with wood and encouraging the useof wood products an economic development priority in Canada. Elsewhere in BC, Wood WORKS! has expanded rapidly due in part to funding support from Forest Renewal BC to the tune of about $1 million since 1999. 

The need for continued and increasing technical assistance is being readily met. A second technical design consultant will be joining the BC team and a technical advisory committee has been struck. Plans are underway for a wood framing symposium to bring together designers and wood suppliers. The symposium will complement a series of ongoing wood design luncheon seminars launched in BC last May. The seminars in Vancouver and Kelowna attracted more than 500 members of the design community. 

Wood WORKS! BC technical design consultant Bill Billups says the scope of influence is sometimes hard to measure but notes the College of New Caledonia is a good example of  the far-reaching influence of Wood WORKS!

Architects, structural engineers, builders and designers met to learn more about earthquake and wind design, engineered wood systems and changes to the CSA code standards. Ongoing design assistance and support is currently being provided for a wide variety of BC projects including an arts centre, a public library, a sports arena, a major hotel development, a college campus and retail facilities. 

Wood WORKS! BC technical design consultant Bill Billups says the scope of influence is sometimes hard to measure but notes the College of New Caledonia, North Cariboo Campus in Quesnel, BC is a good example of the far-reaching influence of Wood WORKS! "In the case of Quesnel, Wood WORKS! had an influence in helping the decision makers think wood well in advance of the design stage. This is a true measure of the impact Wood WORKS! is having across the province and we're starting to see this happen more frequently," he continues. 

A number of BC forest industry companies have met the challenge issued by Wood WORKS! Bill Van Bergeyk, senior vice-president of Federated Cooperatives Ltd in Canoe, BC was inspired when he heard that Tembec's Crestbrook Forest Industries operation in Cranbrook had completed a major expansion out of wood. Van Bergeyk weighed his options and the end result was a 9,510 square foot wood/steel combo structure resulting in significant savings for Federated. 

Tembec's Cranbrook expansion included a 29,000-square-foot wood building that featured a free span of 140 feet with no interior columns. The wood design resulted in a 20 per cent saving compared with the steel estimates. Gorman Bros Lumber followed suit by building a 60,000-square-foot wood storage shed at its Westbank plant. As in other cases, the Gorman Bros building also resulted in a significant saving for the company.

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