UBC Undergraduate Research

Promotion of wood frame construction in China with a focus on opportunities after the Sichuan earthquake Huang, Yi


In an attempt to diversify the marketplace for Canadian wood products, the forest industry, particularly in British Columbia, has been promoting the benefits of building with wood to China, one of the largest markets that has not widely adopted wood frame construction. During this marketing campaign that started more than a decade ago, a number of demonstration projects were completed in order to promote wood in a various ways, such as being used as a building material or a landscaping component. Those projects play an important role in establishing the foundation for further developments of wood frame construction, as well as other applications using Canadian wood products in China on a much larger scale. On May 12, 2008, a dreadful earthquake struck Wenchuan claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and leaving many homeless. There was a massive number of building collapses and many buildings sustained permanent structural damage, most of the buildings being made out of masonry or concrete. Comparatively, the few wood frame houses within the earthquake region performed exceptionally well; some of them did not even sustain any superficial damages. The fact that wood frame construction possesses a better seismic characteristic, along with its other benefits, drew a lot of attention from people in China after this devastating earthquake. In addition, the Federal Government of Canada announced a donation of 8 million CAD to the earthquake region to build three demonstration projects all in the configuration of multi-storey wood frame construction buildings. This would not only provide tremendous help to people in dire need, but also further demonstrate the safety, comfort and affordability of wood frame buildings in a much more visible way. This report reviews some of previous demonstration projects in details and a number of current projects for the post-earthquake reconstruction. It also briefly examines why wood frame construction has better seismic performance, as well as discussing other benefits of building with wood, such as its limited impact on the environment. In conclusion, all the efforts initiated by the forest industry of Canada will open the door for Canadian wood products to be used in China, one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing markets.

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