IABO's Position on Mass Timber Construction

The matrix of code proposals which includes the position of the International Association of Building Officials has been posted on our website. I do need to make a correction from the previous notice in that our website address is www.iaboinc.org, The previous email had it listed as .com. When you first log on our website, scroll down to the bottom of the homepage and you will see the link there.


I have received a lot of favorable comments to IABO's effort to provide this information and we appreciate the interest. You can find additional information about our organization on the website. I would ask that you be patient in that we pushed to have the new website up and running for the code development hearings in Richmond. The website is still under construction and will continue to provide information in the near future.


Thanks for your interest and remember to vote on CDP Access.


Tim Ryan, CBO

Executive Director 


On Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 10:16 AM james ryan < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. > wrote:

This email is being sent to building officials nationwide regarding the final step in the voting process established by the International Code Council. The current cycle will result in the publication of the 2021 series of International Codes. The technical committee for the International Association of Building Officials (IABO) actively participated in both the Committee Action Hearings in Columbus, Ohio and the Public Comment Hearings in Richmond, Virginia. providing testimony and voting on the proposed code changes and public comments. That committee consisted of Steve Thomas from Colorado, Paul Armstrong from California, Wayne Jewell from Michigan, Shahriar Amiri from Virginia and myself, Tim Ryan from Kansas.


The marquis issue this year was the code proposals associated with Tall Wood Buildings. This has been a very controversial issue and, as a result, The International Code Council Board of Directors created an ad hoc committee consisting of some of the best technical and code minds within our industry. The committee was multi-disciplined representing various stakeholders that had an interest in this subject. Further, the committee held several meetings that were opened to all interested parties. The International Association of Building Officials is supporting these code proposals and their respective modifications based on the following issues:

1.      First, this issue has been brought forward in previous cycles and could not come to an agreement. The majority of code professionals attending those hearings, in conjunction with the Industry Advisory Board with ICC asked the ICC Board of Directors to establish an ad hoc committee, which they did. 

2.      The committee held several open meetings that allowed for all interests to comment and give input.

3.      The tall wood building technology has passed all tests to date including the same tests required of competing materials. In addition to the traditional testing for fire resistance of building materials, the ad hoc committee agreed to require five additional tests for the tall wood building technology. These tests were held at the ATF center in Baltimore. The cross laminated timber passed all five tests. Unprotected, the CLT met almost a four hour test with an 80,000 lb. load. Keeping in mind that due to the high rise requirements, the material would still be required to have a minimum of a two hour fire protection; the building would be fully suppressed with redundant water supply, a fire pump; central command station and the entire high rise life safety package.

4.      The package of code proposals were passed by the code development committee in Columbus, Ohio and by the assembled membership again in Richmond, Virginia at the public comment hearings. Some of the code proposals were amended by the code development committee.

5.      The last issue, and the one that IABO's technical committee is most concerned about, is that these types of buildings are currently being built in our country today. Without any requirements within the code, the frontline building officials will be forced to evaluate each project under the alternative design and materials requirements of the code based on the proposed design, putting the project at some level of risk. As we all know, to deny such alternatives, the local building official has to base it on the intent of the code requirements or be subjective to potential legal action.

IABO is fully supporting the work of the Tall Wood Buildings Committee and are urging the ICC voting membership to approve the package of code proposals.


Tall Wood Buildings was not the only areas of concerns or consideration. There were several proposals that our technical committee thought to be overly restrictive, un-enforceable, lacking in cost benefit, unreasonable or, just overall, unnecessary. Some changes are thought to be needed to recognize newer technologies, clarifying the codes to be more user friendly, correcting anomalies, or just, overall, making the codes better. 


For these reasons, we are providing a matrix of the code proposals that received challenges though the public comment process with our recommendations for either as submitted (AS), as modified (AM), as modified by a public comment AMPC, or for denial (D). We are urging all ICC voting members to participate in casting their votes through the CDP Access system of ICC. IABO's recommendations will be posted on our website starting on November 19th. To find the matrix with IABO recommendations on proposed changes challenged by public comments, please visit our website at www.iaboinc.com. You can also find out more about our organization including membership and how to join on our website.


There are more than 80 voting members of ICC receiving this email. The recipients include officers of regional chapters, local and state chapters, individuals, and the IABO board of directors. We would like to ask that you please send this email on to all ICC voting members in your area, particularly state and local chapters as we do not have access to the contact information for their respective leadership. 


Regardless of your position on code changes and whether you agree or disagree with IABO's position, we strongly urge all ICC voting members to vote via CDP Access as it will provide a true balance of all interests. If you have any questions or need to contact me please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Tim Ryan, CBO

Executive Director

The International Association of Building Officials