Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions

Photo: Naturallywood, KK Law

Mass timber is part of a worldwide construction shift towards prefabrication and offsite construction. Prefabricated buildings made from sustainable sourced mass timber are a huge environmental and economic opportunity for B.C. and generate a triple win of low-carbon buildings, secure jobs and forest sector growth.

Since 2021, Renewable Cities has successfully undertaken multiple stages of work to help create a more enabling environment for prefabricated mass timber construction in B.C., including engaging with B.C. municipalities, the development sector, manufacturers and key professions to better understand and solve policy and regulatory barriers to the delivery of this building form.  


Design Solutions to Prefab Mass Timber Construction v2.0 is the latest addition to the ongoing work led by SFU Renewable Cities and provides guidance on how municipal land use regulations and design guidelines can better accommodate mass timber buildings in B.C. Released in March 2024, this document compiles supporting information and resources to help local governments develop a review process for applications they receive for mass timber projects within their jurisdiction.

This document is accompanied by other resources on local prefab mass timber solutions prepared by SFU Renewable Cities. Collectively, these publications aim to provide knowledge support for local governments in making informed decisions and developing regulations that facilitate mass timber construction in B.C.

This document is an updated version intended to replace the previous Design Solutions to Prefab Mass Timber Construction originally released in September 2022.



By reducing barriers to insurance and financing, this phase of work will create a more enabling context for greater uptake of mass timber developments across B.C. and Canada.  

Despite its longstanding presence in B.C. and Canada’s construction industry, challenges with ensuring mass timber is a viable and economic choice persist. Our engagement with stakeholders over the past year consistently highlighted insurance and financing as critical issues for this sector, also underscoring the significant lack of cross-sector collaboration on addressing these challenges.

In the next stage of programming, Renewable Cities will leverage its role and unique position as a credible convener in this sector and bring together multistakeholder groups to address challenges and co-develop insurance and financing options better adapted for the unique context, characteristics and needs of mass timber projects in B.C. and Canada. 

Interested in getting involved?

Renewable Cities is looking to engage insurers, financiers and building sector stakeholders in this work. If you are interested in being involved, or would like more information, please contact Project Manager, Veronica Grant at

Get involved


In October 2023, Renewable Cities held a Prefab Mass Timber Design Charrette, bringing together an interdisciplinary group, including architects, builders, developers, structural engineers and local government representatives from eight municipalities. 

Participants collaboratively pinpointed barriers, addressed issues and proposed solutions to advance prefabrication and mass timber construction for projects up to 12 storeys in B.C. The outcomes of the Design Charrette contributed to the development of the newly released Design Solutions to Prefab Mass Timber Construction v2.0.

Download the summary report from the full day Charrette for common themes, sketches of proposed solutions and what we learned.


A sketch from the October 2023 Design Charrette. Thank you to the participants and UBC students who helped capture the design ideas through sketches and illustrations.


Learn more about how you can join the worldwide mass timber movement.

Building Capacity - Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions

Building Capacity covers mass timber solutions for senior government officials, the development industry and local governments. Released in February 2023, this 60-page guide breaks down the challenges and potential solutions for each audience.


Local Government Quick Reference Handbook

Released in April 2023, this quick reference guide is aimed at elected officials and local government staff interested in implementing mass timber solutions in their community.


Design Solutions to Prefab Mass Timber Construction v2.0

A design guide for how municipal land use regulations can better accommodate 7-12 storey mass timber buildings and outlines considerations for 18 storey projects. Released in March 2024, this guide updates our original design solutions guide released in September 2022. 



Building Capacity: Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions offers ways for local governments to develop policies and regulations that facilitate mid-rise mass timber construction. It also provides paths for senior levels of government and the building sector to contribute to successful mass timber projects and help scale this novel building form in B.C. 

Building Capacity is the culmination of a year-long process led by SFU Renewable Cities that included independent research and analysis complemented by engagement with over 230 developers, design consultants, builders, manufacturers, local government planners and building officials. It was released in February 2023.

Building Capacity is primarily directed towards local government and the development sector

Local Governments

  • Gain a deeper understanding of how mid-rise buildings constructed with prefabrication mass timber lead to substantial economic gains, lower greenhouse gas emissions and thriving communities
  • Become aware of key challenges and explore strategies related to land use, design guidelines and building permit processes to facilitate more prefab and mass timber construction

Development Industry

  • Learn about solutions your industry can take and how to support local governments in tuning policy to be more “prefab mass timber friendly”

Senior Government

  • Learn how provincial and federal policies affect construction standards for municipalities and developers working on mass timber projects and ways to advance innovation in this space


Building Capacity was funded by BC Hydro, Forestry Innovation Investment (FII) and the Office of Mass Timber Implementation in the B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation.

Photo: Naturallywood, KK Law


B.C. has the resources and expertise to lead the prefab mass timber construction revolution

Mid-rise buildings (7-12 storeys), rare in B.C. but growing and important for densification and livability, are well suited for prefabricated mass timber construction. They help support significant embodied carbon reductions, thriving communities and affordable housing.

B.C. has the resources and expertise to lead this construction category and, as of 2019, allows mass timber buildings up to 12 storeys within some early-adopter jurisdictions. Yet uptake remains low for many reasons, including policy/regulatory barriers and supply/demand dynamics. 

Brock Commons Tall Wood building progress; Photo: Naturallywood, KK Law

In 2022, Renewable Cities assembled an interdisciplinary project team of architects, planners, developers and building officials to work with communities and stakeholders to increase understanding of key land use and permitting barriers for the construction of prefabricated and mid-rise mass timber construction.

The Project Team engaged over 230 municipal and building stakeholders which helped to inform the development of the Building Capacity: Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions Guide

In 2023, Renewable Cities shifted its focus to engage with the industry about design guidelines for mass timber buildings. The Project Team engaged with multiple municipalities and their design panels to develop adaptable design guidance for this building form. This involved engagement with over 35 industry professionals and leaders across multiple sectors in a dialogue-based Design Charette and engaging with over 500 stakeholders in presentations, conferences and workshops.

This work led to the release of Design Solutions to Prefab Mass Timber Construction v2.0 in March 2024. This resource provides guidance on how municipal land use regulations and design guidelines can better accommodate 7-12 storey mass timber buildings in B.C. and outlines considerations for 18 storey projects, in alignment with updated B.C. building code, which now allows for mass timber buildings up to 18 storeys, up from 12 storeys. 


Meet our interdisciplinary project team assembled by Renewable Cities with involvement from the Building Officials Association of BC, Ecosse Development Corp, Penway Consulting and Scius Advisory Services.

Veronica Grant

Renewable Cities
Project Manager

Helen Goodland

Architect RIBA

Scius Advisory Services,
MT & Building Innovation Advisor

Gary Penway


Penway Consulting
Land Use Policy Specialist

Norm Couttie

Architect AIBC

Ecosse Development Corp
MT Developer Specialist

Mesa Sherriff

Architect AIA, Urban Designer, LEED AP    

Associate, ZGF Architects
Design Guideline Expert

Maryam Alirezaei

Associate Principal, ZGF Architects
Design Guideline Expert

Daniel Wilson

CPDH, Architect AIBC

Associate, ZGF Architects
Design Guideline Expert

Frank Ducote


Frank Ducote Urban Design
Design Guideline Expert

Arjun Singh

Community Builder
Local Government Strategic Advisor

Marie Bednash

Associate AIA - Principal, ZGF Architects
Design Guideline and Communications Expert

Thomas Noussis

Intern Architect, ZGF Architects
Design Guideline Expert

Tim Ryce

Professional Engineer
Chief Building Official
Strategic Advisor

Geoff Triggs


Evolution Building Science Ltd,
Strategic Advisor

John de Ruiter

City of North Vancouver
Chief Building Inspector (former)
Permitting & Inspection Advisor


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