Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. Copies of my remarks are available for committee members.
Bonjour. My name is Derek Nighbor, and I'm the chief executive officer at Forest Products Association of Canada. I'm pleased to be here today to discuss Mr. Cannings' Bill and to talk about why it's important that wood be given every consideration as part of the federal government's procurement strategy.
I would like to thank Mr. Cannings for his diligence for being a strong and thoughtful voice for our sector not only in his community, but throughout British Columbia.
My colleague Bob Larocque appeared before this committee a couple of times back in November and again in February on the secondary supply chain work this group has been doing. In his remarks, Bob shared a fair bit of information about the importance of our sector to the Canadian economy, especially as it pertains to the over 600 communities across rural and northern Canada that depend on forestry. I see Mr. Harvey and others here who can attest to that in a personal way.
Not only economic benefits, but also real environmental benefits are derived by the way in which we manage Canada's forests, because wood products lock in carbon and therefore are a key solutions provider in our fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I won't go into a lot of detail on that information, as I know all of you are well aware of the importance of our sector to communities where, more often than not, the forest and mills jobs are among the best in town.
I want to thank the members of this committee for their focus on forestry over the past number of months. We're a sector that has not been without its challenges. Although many of the headlines tend to be about the Canada-U.S. trade disputes we're kind of stuck in the middle of, I know I speak for FPAC members and the broader industry value chain when I say it's very important for us to focus on the things we can control.
One of those things is the acceleration of innovation in forestry. In the forests, at the mills, and through the carbon-storing products we make, our sector holds promise to deliver on 13% of the federal government's overall GHG reduction goals under the Paris Agreement, but we need the ongoing support of federal and provincial governments to help us make that happen. Predictable and reliable access to wood fibre, a competitive tax regime, a skilled workforce for tomorrow, and a reliable transportation network to get our goods to market are all central to our future success.
I want to speak more specifically now to the role we believe wood should play in the federal government's procurement plate per Mr. Cannings' private member's bill. We view this bill as an opportunity to give wood the recognition it deserves as a material of high value and choice in construction.
Similar bills have come before the House in the past in the same sphere as this bill. I know former Bloc Québecois MP Claude Patry from Jonquière tabled the bill back in 2009 and then again a couple of years later. What has changed since 2009 when Monsieur Patry tabled his bill for the first time is quite simply innovation in wood construction, a greater awareness, and a heightened worldwide understanding of the benefits building with wood can bring.
You heard on Tuesday from federal officials about the examples of wood construction projects in Canada and the growing chorus of engineers and architects who are turning to wood as a safe, resilient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly material of choice.
Eight years ago when Monsieur Patry tabled his bill, there was less enthusiasm among federal officials regarding changes to procurement approaches. Changing that is the big opportunity that's before us here with this bill and this discussion today.
In passing this bill, the government will send a clear signal that governments around the world have already recognized wood is a safe, durable, and high-performing material that fares well against competing materials in building construction and, in the past, has often been overlooked.
The built environment accounts for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions, so if Canada wants to make real headway in reducing GHGs, a procurement strategy focused on reducing the carbon footprint of construction materials represents a real opportunity. We have already seen countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and others make moves to advance green building procurement, so there are many examples and ideas to draw from.
Here at home we have seen provincial procurement strategies rolled out in Quebec and British Columbia in the same vein as Mr. Cannings' bill, and the B.C. story, which I know my colleagues from Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd. will speak to in greater detail in the next session. We have seen B.C. emerge as a market leader in the design, manufacturing, and construction of wood products and systems, largely in part to B.C.'s focus on wood building.
In addition to Mr. Cannings' bill, I would be remiss if I did not highlight the leadership from other members of the House in this space like Halifax MP Andy Fillmore in the tabling of Motion No. 45 that motion supports the greening of infrastructure projects over $500,000 funded by the federal government and the greening government initiative that has been led internally by Vancouver Quadra MP Joyce Murray.
Innovation has changed how procurement should work. It's no longer about using the same materials and the same forms we've traditionally turned to. We believe it's important to ingrain this in Canada's procurement strategy.
To the point about how things have changed, earlier this week researchers at Purdue University spoke to the opportunities that microscopic wood nanocrystals fused in concrete can bring to support an even stronger bridge they plan to build in California. While some are trying to position Mr. Cannings' bill as favouring one material over another, we view it as a bill that sends a signal that the game has changed. This bill rightly profiles the growing role wood can play as a leading green option in building construction, and therefore that should be reflected in federal government procurement.
Let me be clear. We support fully and expect that thorough life-cycle assessments will and should rule the day when it comes to the evaluation of materials in procurement decision-making.
Experience in Canada and from around the world tells us that when it comes to the carbon question, wood-based materials perform very well against other materials. I'd encourage the committee to look at the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute as a leading not-for-profit research collaborative that's supporting a lot of life-cycle analysis work in building construction.
Mr. Chair, thanks for the opportunity today.
Thank you for your attention. I welcome your questions.
Good morning, standing committee members. Bonjour à tous
Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you about Bill and the Wood Council's reaction to it.
I do apologize. I have a bit of a speech impediment at this time, but I'll work my way through it. It only affects me when I try to say anything with three syllables or more.
I'll tell you a little bit about the Canadian Wood Council. We are a national industry association. We represent more than 90% of the wood product production in Canada, so that means lumber, panels, and engineered wood products. Unlike in the case of other structural materials, our members are almost exclusively Canadian-owned, proudly so, which means that they not only produce in Canada but also that they have interests in growing the markets in Canada. They are totally invested in this market.
The CWC's mission is twofold. The first part is to ensure that current and innovative new products and building systems are fairly represented in the building codes, because what gets represented in those building codes gets built. They are regulatory tools, which is a very important point. The second area our mission talks about is the area of education. In that area, we support students and professors in their curricula as well as the continuing education of practitioners, including architects, engineers, and builders.
I'd be remiss if I didn't give you a couple of quick facts about building codes, which will be relevant a little later on.
The first thing is that building codes and related standards take about five years to develop. There's a five-year cycle ingrained in all of this. You might think that's long, and it is, and you might think that it impedes innovation, and it does, but it ensures that the codes actually meet the objectives as stated by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes. So, yes, Canada has objective-based building codes, and their targets are energy and water-use efficiency, fire and structural protection, fire and structural safety, as well as health and accessibility, but there's nothing in there that speaks to carbon or greenhouse gas, and there is nothing in there that speaks about the use of wood, although that would be really nice.
Why is this information important? Since the mid-1900s, before the advent of sprinklers and protection systems or what we call encapsulation, concrete and steel products in building systems kind of ruled. They were the only game in town. These were used in institutional, commercial, and industrial applications, as well as in multi-family residential applications. Much has changed.
Earlier on, the codes were prescriptive. An example of a prescriptive code would be, for a firewall, something like a firewall must be made with masonry blocks. That's prescriptive. It tells you what to do. A change took place about 10 years ago when the National Research Council's codes centre embarked on the development of an objective-based code. Because of those objectives which I stated earlier, codes then became a little more objective-oriented. Instead of, for something like that firewall I just mentioned, that it must be built out of masonry blocks, it now says that a firewall must have a two-hour fire rating. This allows for an increased use of innovation in the solutions. There are some wood solutions associated with drywall on them that can be used now. It also has allowed us to move further into the codes with mid-rise provisions of five and six storeys. It allows us to look at tall buildings, but in the end, it's the 2025 move by the National Research Council towards performance-based codes that will allow us to really get more into the market of these tall buildings.
This is important because, as slow as the building codes are to get updated, and there's that cycle, the federal real property and Public Works purchasing practices are also. They are sometimes updated, but we don't know this. Those updates are not transparent.
It is for that reason, and that reason primarily, we support Bill . At the end, they will update these as the result of this bill action, either through the bill itself or an act, or a policy developed from this will cause the Public Works department to actually take action and consider wood more equally. That doesn't mean they have to win on a first costs basis, but at least there will be a balance.
At the end, the solution is to update those practices to make them product neutral and greenhouse gas savvy or, as Bill suggests, to force Public Works, through an act or policy, to consider wood use with that carbon metric. In this way, the federal government can catch up to B.C.'s Wood First Act or Quebec's Charte du bois, or wood equally policy.
I'll say a few words about costs and reductions in greenhouse gas. The first is something that is no surprise to me, particularly in our innovation. Wood does not always score first when it comes to costs, especially new wood building systems, but because of the work of some of our funders and research partners, including FPInnovations and the NRC, we see an increase in new solutions that are helping us to evolve these building systems. If you look at Brock Commons, it's the tallest contemporary wood building in North America, well, in the world really, at 18 storeys. You can look at that building and say that it did not win on a first costs basis, but when you look at the construction practices that evolved from it, that building came under budget. Future buildings of that nature will do very well.
In terms of greenhouse gas tools, Derek mentioned that the Athena institute has tools of this nature, life-cycle assessment tools that not only look at greenhouse gas but at other environmental impacts. The Quebec government, working with Cecobois, which is associated with the Conseil de l'industrie forestière du Québec, also has a tool in development that will help them in policy judgments associated with carbon or greenhouse gases. For them, it's not just a question of “wood equally”, as in the Charte du bois; it's also to compare or to look at that extra metric. That is the tool that's being developed. That tool is now being co-funded by the Province of Ontario. B.C. is interested, and the American Wood Council is interested as well. There is an opportunity to take this to governments for policy support.
Is the greenhouse gas metric important? Yes, obviously, to meet government policy objectives. A more rapid adoption considering embodied or avoided energy or greenhouse gas is really important, because early action compounds over time. I would encourage that we consider or look at embodied energy in the products, as well as the operational side, the whole life cycle. Early action is really important in order to meet those life-cycle goals.
Are wood products or wood building systems the final solution here? In my view, maybe, but really, speaking practically, down the road we will see hybrid systems evolve that will use wood, concrete, all those products. Think about the problems we want to solve, including the seismic situations in B.C., for instance. We saw this in Christchurch, New Zealand, particularly. An earthquake happens, the building shakes, the building survives, and people get out. It meets code. However, the buildings are damaged in such a way that they are not reusable. Wouldn't it be nicer to have lighter buildings that could move on their podiums? That area, that lightness, is important. Wood products, and wood fibres in, for instance, concrete, could serve us well into the future.
Mr. Chair, those were my opening remarks. I do have some other comments, if I have another minute or so.
I'd like to thank the standing committee for the invitation to appear today.
I'm Michael Loseth, the president and CEO of Forestry Innovation Investment. My colleague Sonya Zeitler Fletcher is our vice-president of market development.
Forestry Innovation Investment, or FII, is a crown corporation of the province of British Columbia tasked with developing and diversifying markets for B.C. forest products and with fostering innovation in the use of wood.
We're happy to appear before the committee to represent our perspectives and the experiences of Forestry Innovation Investment. It goes without saying that we're not here to speak on behalf of the provincial government of British Columbia.
In British Columbia and across Canada, forestry matters. In B.C., forestry is the largest economic sector. Thirty-six per cent of manufactured exports come from forest products. More than 60,000 people in B.C. are employed in the forestry sector, of which 12,000 are employed in value-added activities. Forestry supports over 7,000 businesses across British Columbia. These employees and companies are not just in rural communities. There are forestry jobs in virtually every community in B.C., from Vancouver to Vanderhoof and from Prince George to Penticton.
I believe it is fair to say that the 20th century was one that favoured concrete and steel. At the time, it was new. It allowed larger buildings to be built, longer distances to be spanned, and new architecture and designs to be realized. This was also a period of conspicuous consumption, often with little regard for the environment. Whether it was the buildings we built, the materials we used, how we insulated and heated those buildings, or the gas-guzzling cars that we drove, carbon emissions and the environment were typically not part of our thinking.
I also believe that in the 21st century we will do things differently, and we already are. In fact, we know that roughly 30% of our carbon emissions in British Columbia come from the built environment, and that has to change. We need more energy efficient buildings. We need to look beyond fossil fuels for the energy to heat them. We need to pay attention to the products that we use to build them. In so doing, why wouldn't we want to use a product from one of our greatest natural and abundant resources? Wood grows naturally from the sun, absorbs and stores carbon dioxide, and releases oxygen back into the atmosphere. Wood use in construction extends carbon sequestration beyond the forests and into the products and buildings that we make with wood.
In any discussion of or accounting for environmental footprint, we need to look at both embodied energy and operating energy, ideally using life-cycle assessment and scientific tools. The operating energy relates to the environmental impact of the heating, cooling, and operation of the building over time. Embodied energy relates to the environmental impact of the products that go into the building. The science is clear, and there shouldn't be a lot of debate. The important take-away is that both embodied and operational impacts matter and need to be considered.
We're not here today to encourage you to ban using concrete and steel or plastic and petroleum-based products. However, we do encourage this committee in its consideration of this bill to take a step forward in establishing a new and responsible lens to procurement decisions for federal buildings, a step that will help commercialize new innovations in wood and showcase those to the world.
As you may be aware, in 2009, British Columbia passed the Wood First Act. I quote:
||The purpose of this Act is to facilitate a culture of wood by requiring the use of wood as the primary building material in all new provincially funded buildings, in a manner consistent with the building regulations.
In our experience, the passage of this act did not eliminate the use of non-wood building materials. However, it does require government procurement officials and their design teams to ask themselves if they can use wood. Sometimes the answer is “no”, but often it's “yes” or “in certain applications”. In so doing, in British Columbia we have expanded the use of wood, not only in schools, universities, and government office buildings, but also in post-disaster facilities and first responder buildings where wood buildings are safe and resilient, meeting and exceeding the strictest fire and seismic requirements.
In British Columbia, the aspirational steps taken through the Wood First Act continue to make a difference today. Sure, some may grumble, but what I typically hear is that it doesn't hurt to look at wood and consider how it can be used. Use the right product for the right application, but look at all the alternatives, including wood. If it costs significantly more, or won't work for some reason, fair enough. However, projects should at least consider wood and the exciting innovations that are possible today.
In FII's world, fundamentally we work towards two key things. First, we work to help diversify markets for B.C. forest products, with a strong focus on expanding markets in Asia. Second, we work to foster innovation in how we use wood at home. In our experience, those two things are fundamentally and inherently linked. It's typically by first advancing innovation, using wood here at home, and demonstrating its potential that we then have the technical information and, frankly, the credibility to introduce those same innovations into our export markets. As those export markets consume more of our products and access our leading expertise, it creates more jobs for Canadians.
Therefore, how do we support innovation in the use of wood in British Columbia? It includes advancing building codes and regulations to recognize today's modern wood products and the engineering and performance capacity that those products and building systems have. It includes educating and sharing knowledge with the design and construction community on what is possible with wood.
We support technical research and demonstration to overcome any impediments that may exist and to advance the business case for new products and building systems, and we showcase what is possible to help commercialize new products and construction technologies. Because of our Wood First Act, that includes showcasing wood use and innovation in publicly funded projects.
Our programs and efforts in B.C. are closely aligned with federal government programs. Most of the activities I just mentioned collaborate with, share costs with, or draw on the support of existing federal programs, and those federal programs are extremely helpful. What the federal government is not doing, however, is actively showcasing the use of wood and new innovations in government-funded buildings. In our view, that's a lost opportunity.
If you go to our naturallywood.com website, we have a sampling of more than 80 projects in British Columbia where the government's commitment to support innovation has been put into practice, and buildings have been built. If you look closely, you will see glass, concrete, steel, and a range of building products in each of those buildings.
As I mentioned earlier, in our experience, it's not about excluding other materials; it's about putting wood on an even playing field and showcasing what is possible with modern products, modern design, and modern engineering.
In the couple of minutes I have left, I'd like to quickly look at a few examples.
"The use of wood honours our local culture and heritage. It also confirms our commitment to the use of sustainable resources," said the school superintendent responsible for Westview Elementary School. Six hundred and five tonnes of CO2 are sequestered in the wood in the building, which is equivalent to taking 128 cars off the road for a year.
Built to meet LEED silver-level certification standards, the design intent was to create a welcoming space that would be incorporated into the urban fabric of the city and would contribute to a positive profile for the RCMP.
While not a huge building, 835 tonnes of CO2 are sequestered in this building, the equivalent of taking 177 cars off the road for a year. In first responder buildings such as this, resiliency and performance during and after natural disasters is a key consideration. Wood can meet or outperform other options.
The design is focused on creating a warm, natural facility to reduce the stress of the experience for patients as well as on meeting rigorous building performance standards.
"The use of exposed wood in a project is one of the ways that we can improve conditions for our patients. Wood conveys a sense of warmth and comfort that supports the healing environment and improves the overall patient experience,” said the VP of capital projects for this building.
It is not just about large medical buildings. Wood is used in small community facilities, like this first nations health centre. Universities are also embracing wood. After all, they are the brain trusts of today and are setting trends and training the leaders of tomorrow.
In addition to meeting regulatory requirements, this project minimized the environmental impacts by incorporating energy and water conservation elements as well as durable, non-toxic, low embodied energy materials, earning a LEED gold-level certification. This building is also designed to function as a post-disaster operations centre after a major seismic event.
We spoke a little about my last slide with some of the earlier speakers. Brock Commons Tallwood House is a mass timber hybrid student residence at the University of British Columbia, which at 18 storeys is the world's tallest contemporary wood building. Not only did this building allow for significant innovation, but it was built for less cost than a comparable concrete building. With advanced engineering and technology throughout, it's probably one of the safest buildings in the country today.
Canada has one of the largest forest resources in the wirld, and it is a resourcethat is managed in a fully sustainable way. Those healthy forests produce world-class forest products, which are then replanted for future generations. Although as Canadians we have a reputation for saying sorry don't believe that promoting one of our largest economic sectors to advance innovation and showcase what is possible using a sustainable and renewable building product is anything to apologize for. It's quite the opposite. I believe we should be bold and proud of how we lead the world in the use of wood.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and members, for the invitation to present as a witness to this group. Our organization has presented a few times on other topics. We want to maintain our role as being kind of a third party, factual and science-based organization.
I believe everybody has a copy, French and English, of the brief. I will start in French and finish in English.
Good morning, Mr. Chair. Thank you once again for inviting me to testify before the Standing Committee on Natural Resources.
My name is Jean-Pierre Martel. I am vice-president, strategic partnerships, at FPInnovations. I am accompanied by my colleague Patrick Lavoie, our senior researcher, sustainable development. He is one of our researchers, one of our experts on life cycles and on the subjects we were talking about earlier.
At FPInnovations, our vision is of a world where products from sustainable forests contribute to every aspect of daily life, including housing and infrastructure. Our vision is for the long term, and we are working with all the various sectors to move that vision forward.
FPInnovations is a public-private partnership seeking to improve the competitiveness and accelerate the transformation of the Canadian forest sector. FPInnovations has 170 member companies. We have an annual budget of around $75 million and 450 employees in five laboratories, including one located in our headquarters in Montreal. There is another one in Quebec City. There is a big lab in British Columbia on the UBC campus. There is another in Thunder Bay, working on bioeconomics. The final lab is in Hinton, Alberta; it conducts research into forest fires.
On the next slide, slide 4, sometimes scientists make things complicated when we talk about carbon and the carbon cycle. The U.S. EPA some time ago developed a kind of common approach to try to explain how carbon works and how CO2 works. They call it the bathtub approach.
The bathtub is basically the atmosphere, and we're trying to achieve some level of concentration within the atmosphere. The faucet is basically what we put in. Emissions from the use of fossil fuels or deforestation contribute to bringing in more carbon or CO2 into the atmosphere.
With regard to dealing with it, one solution is to reduce the incoming, so turn off the faucet a bit. The other way is to deal with the drain. Drain comes from the absorption of CO2 by the ocean and by the land, of which the forest is a key part.
When we think about a bill like this, we take into account the role of the forest and forest products. It's important to consider where it fits in the global solution around climate change and CO2 mitigation.
For the next part, I'll leave that to the experts to talk about the forest carbon cycle.
Thank you, Jean-Pierre.
Thank you, committee, for taking the time to hear this presentation. I hope to speak to the scientific argument under discussion, and hopefully we'll get more into the details in the question period.
If you look at slide 5, you will see a slide that's very similar to what Michael presented earlier with the forest carbon cycle. What's important to understand is that carbon by weight is made about 50% from carbon, and that carbon comes from the atmosphere. It's being drawn from the atmosphere. If you look at the top, carbon dioxide goes into photosynthesis, ends up in the material, and gets stored for a short-, medium-, or long-term period, depending on whether we use it in buildings, in fuels, in panels, or in pulp and paper. We do have some feedback cycles where, if the material reaches the end of life, it can be recycled into panels, and it can be used for energy recovery, so there are multiple feedback loops. It's that connection between the forest and the forest products that really can help make a difference in terms of the mitigation of climate change, as Jean-Pierre pointed out.
Turning to slide 6, there are a few levers of action that can be used to mitigate climate change. Essentially, I've identified three main ones, one being forest management. We can manage forests sustainably, as we do right now in Canada, and even more, intensify the forest management to increase the productivity of the forests, generate more lumber and more products from the forest, but also increase the forest carbon stocks. Research shows that it can be done, and it has been done elsewhere. Right now it's being more and more considered. In B.C. they have an approach to do that, and the same in Scandinavian countries.
There is one way to play on the carbon concentration of the atmosphere through the forest. We can also store some carbon in products. Buildings are an excellent example. Most buildings will last anywhere between 80 to 120 years, and that carbon doesn't go back to the atmosphere until we send it back there, either in the form of energy recovery or decomposition in landfills. There are multiple ways carbon is going to make its way back to the atmosphere and then re-enter that cycle again.
Finally, the last way we can make a difference in terms of concentration of GGs in the atmosphere is through the substitution of fossil or high embodied emission products, such as concrete, steel, and other building materials that are not renewable.
Those are the ways we can act and make a difference on climate change through both forest and forest products. As some of the previous presenters have mentioned, a positive side effect of that is that in doing that, we're generating revenues and jobs in Canada, because our companies are largely based in Canada.
I think it's important to point out, as I mentioned before, that carbon composes about 50% of wood's mass, which means there's actual carbon being stuck in the material. What's important to understand is that, when we harvest from the forest, most of that carbon is not in the material itself; it's in the soil and it's in the litter on the ground. It's being cycled in the ecosystem, so really, what we're doing when we're harvesting wood is taking some of the interest, but most of the capital stays in the forest. That's an important point to make that sometimes gets missed.
Slide 8 is a very good example of a life-cycle assessment, a life-cycle analysis, a case study of two functionally equivalent buildings. They are in the same area, and they are two very similar designs. One is a building made from concrete and steel, and the other is a CLT building. What the graph essentially shows is that the emissions that are generated in manufacturing the products that go into both buildings are significantly lower, 40% lower, in the wood building.
Jean-Pierre was referring to the faucet aspect. This is where that faucet is being turned off, so reducing emissions. The important point to make is that this is definitely not a building that has been optimized and is 100% wood. There are a lot of materials in this building, such as steel rebar, concrete, rockwool, and there is room for more optimization for biogenic and biosource products to enter those types of buildings in the future, as we continue to innovate.
Slide 9 shows two buildings representative of the buildings being built today. Those buildings are using common and standard products, yet more and more are working toward new generation biomaterials, insulation products, decking products, so all kinds of new wood solutions that will integrate more wood into our building systems in a safe manner, which is also code compliant.
I'll skip slide 10 and go directly to slide 11.
The results I have shown for building comparison is based on a very extensive scientific data collection. As Michael Giroux mentioned earlier, there are tools available today for industry practitioners to benchmark their buildings and do an assessment of the embodied emissions. The Athena impact estimator and the Canadian Wood Council and Cecobois have tools which are also quite good and very practical. It just goes to show that the information is there and the tools are there. It can always improve, but those are very good pieces.
I just want to leave you with something said by the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which essentially encapsulates what the main statement of the presentation has been. The biggest difference we can make in fighting climate change is by maintaining and increasing forest carbon stocks and at the same time producing a constant yield of products and materials. It's by adding those two elements that we can make the biggest difference.
I will leave it at that. Thank you.
I can at least speak from my experience in British Columbia. The Wood First Act in British Columbia is fairly strongly worded around requiring the use of wood and developing the wood culture.
I don't know that I have a lot to offer you in wordsmithing. I think there are a lot more experienced people in developing legislation than I am, and whether it's “requiring” or “encouraging” or “providing preference for” or “an initial consideration of”, I think I'll leave to others. However I do think it's important in whatever this bill moves forward to still have some strongly worded direction. In my experience in British Columbia, there were a number of unintended impediments that we identified after the Wood First Act was put into place I can give you an example.
Without some strong pressure and some clear direction to government ministries and public works, these may or may not all be addressed. For example, in British Columbia when we looked at schools.... I showed you an example of a school. The Ministry of Education started to look at what building products were being used in B.C. schools. They found there was a lot of concrete and brick and steel and such, so they started to ask the question, why aren't we seeing more wood buildings?
Building codes allow for the vast majority of school types, and the size and shape and what have you, but it wasn't happening. It wasn't until the ministry was forced to go back and really start to peel it back that they identified their costing models and the project planning systems that they had with the individual school districts were all developed and based on building a concrete school.
When those school districts went through the process and provided all the required information back to the Ministry of Education, of course, more often than not they fell back to the concrete buildings, which was how the system had all been designed and set up. It wasn't until they started to change that and opened it up to be far more product-agnostic , and to look at wood to see where wood was being unnecessarily excluded from the process, that it changed.
Now we're starting to see a far better balance. Not every school in British Columbia is 100% built with wood, but there are more that are being built with wood, and those unintended impediments that existed in the system are being dealt with.
First, I'm a forester by training. Your explanation was very good, so I don't have to repeat it. You did very well.
Actually, people look at forests more as a straight Polaroid picture than a video. Nature is a living ecosystem. It goes up in fires, has insects, and whatever. They are not static ecosystems; they are living ecosystems. That's one thing.
A second part of your question was about wood standing on its own merit and whether there are private buildings. We referred earlier to two buildings: one in Quebec City, a 12-storey building, and an eight-storey building that is one of the largest projects in downtown Montreal, in Griffintown. Both are private investments. Both actually sold out pretty quickly, especially the one in Montreal, because they marketed the aspect of wood, carbon sequestration, a different type of living, and the numbers show that they are also competitive in terms of cost.
One thing, though, that we need to be careful not to forget when we talk about Brock Commons, the first wood building in the world that is that tall, is that when the builder looked at this, he saw it was a new system and he needed a premium in order to get ready, but once more and more of those systems were in place, the cost would go down significantly.
We have to make sure we compare oranges with oranges and apples with apples. In this case, when you have a new system in place, the first one will be more costly. As you get more experience, the cost will go down for sure.