NRC-IRC research on Canadian wood-frame construction in China

Volume 16, Number 2, June 2011

Researchers at the NRC Institute for Research in Construction (NRC-IRC) recently completed a five-year project investigating the moisture management performance and durability of Canadian wood-frame exterior building envelope construction practices in China. The broad objectives of this initiative, conducted in association with Canada Wood (representing the Canadian forest industry), are to provide competitive and quality housing to meet China’s housing needs and to develop growing and sustained markets for Canadian wood and wood products in China.

While numerous criteria must be considered in striving to meet these objectives, building envelope design and construction is deemed most important. Effective moisture management strategies for the design of exterior walls and roofs in the hot, humid and mixed climates of China, and measures to counter the associated risks of biological decay and termite infestations within the wood-frame assemblies are the key challenges. Canadian experience with long-term performance of wood-frame construction and the research expertise of NRC-IRC were crucial to the success of the project, ensuring the development of satisfactory technology for the successful performance of wood-frame construction in China.

NRC-IRC’s contribution to the project was to use its numerical simulation tool, hygIRC-2D, to examine the performance of selected wall and roof designs deemed suitable for the climates of Beijing and Shanghai. The results from these numerical simulation exercises have been supplemented with limited field performance data obtained from experimental wood-frame houses built in Shanghai.

The findings have been incorporated into the Guide to Good Practice – Construction of Wood Platform Frame Buildings, China, both 2007 and 2010 editions, regional training programs, the Shanghai local code on wood-frame construction, and standard design drawings. The guide and associated research and technical outputs have contributed to exceptional growth in the exports of Canadian wood to China in recent years. For 2010, exports of SPF (spruce/pine/fir) dimension lumber used for construction of Chinese wood buildings are estimated at 1.6 billion board feet. This represents a doubling of exports every year since 2007. (data source: Statistics Canada)

For more information

Contact Phalguni Mukhopadhyaya at 613-993-9600 or