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Wood First Legislation


There is strong movement in a number of states to legislate the use of wood over other building materials for state funded projects. As you would expect, this preferential treatment of one material over another has its roots in regions with strong forestry and timber industries and powerful lobby groups. This legislation is referred to as Wood First Initiative named after the original legislation signed into law in British Columbia, Canada.

Clearly, the effects of this legislation are potenitally devastating to the concrete industry and NRMCA has developed a strategy to stem the adoption of more Wood First legislation in other regions. To enable this strategy, we must first become aware of the complex relationship between green certifications, local politics and the competitive drive for marketshare between all industries.





Since the arrival of the International Building Code in 2000, there have been a number of provisions that have been favorable to wood construction:

  • Including new definitions of some use groups and types of construction (e.g., Type III), which allow more wood construction

  • Allowing sprinklered buildings with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 13 systems to contain one additional story, and to be increased in height 20 feet

  • Permiting fire walls of combustible material in a Type V building, which allows the structure to be divided into separate buildings, each subject to its own height and area limits

  • Allowing the area for single-story buildings that are sprinklered to be increased to 300 percent of the tabular area

  • Permiting asymmetric testing for fire resistance rating (testing from the inside only) where the distance to the property line is at least five feet



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