Tall Wood Survey: Identifying and Analyzing the Obstacles of Perception

Tall wood buildings are becoming increasingly prevalent around the world, and yet, they are conspicuously missing from the U.S. skyline. Antiquated building code restrictions have put the United States behind its Canadian and European counterparts, preventing the U.S. from even considering the use of wood as the primary structure in a tall building. Recent initiatives from various wood manufacturers and sponsors are pushing back on these restrictions and providing the research and support needed to move engineered wood products forward. This article aims to address the public’s perception of engineered wood to determine if there are perception barriers that may be impeding advancement of tall wood buildings. The research methods included literature review and survey. The survey methodology included a web-based questionnaire, which more than 500 respondents completed. The general survey population identified flammability as the greatest perception barrier to building tall with wood, followed by strength, deforestation, and durability. However, respondents that identified themselves as more familiar with engineered wood products characterized moisture as the greatest barrier, followed by insurance, cost, and durability. This data revealed that public education and awareness campaigns, which can help increase familiarity with building materials, may contribute towards overcoming these perception barriers and pave the way for building code revisions related to engineered wood products.

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