MOHURD issued General Code for Timber Structures GB55005-2021

By: Haiyan Zhang

Senior Technical Director, Canada Wood China

An important market access program conducted by Canada Wood China, is on the improvement of codes and standards for the construction industry, specifically those that impact wood construction projects. For many years, Chinese codes and standards for wood structures have not been aligned with international standards, and this has served as a substantial barrier to growing the market for wood frame construction.

On July 15, 2021, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) issued a notice on the national standard “General Code for Timber Structures“, No. GB55005-2021, which will take effect starting January 1, 2022. The General Code for Timber Structures is a full-text mandatory engineering construction code, and all provisions must be strictly enforced.

This new full-text mandatory code system is intended to improve standardization by replacing the mandatory provisions that were scattered throughout existing codes. These mandatory codes are composed of two categories: project codes and general codes. The project codes set the minimum requirements for the overall construction project, including project scale, layout, function, performance, and key technical measures. The general codes set the minimum requirements to ensure the functional performance of engineering construction, including areas such as survey, design, construction, maintenance, and repair.

40 mandatory engineering construction codes (consisting of 13 project codes and 27 general codes) have been under development since 2016. Among the 40 mandatory codes, 13 codes have recently been promulgated and will be in effect starting January 1, 2022. Among these codes, one is focused entirely on timber structures, pointedly the “General Code for Timber Structures”.

The “General Code for Timber Structures” was officially initiated by MOHURD in 2017 under a task group, jointly chaired by the Nanjing University of Technology and China Construction Southwest Design and Research Institute, with Canada Wood China serving as one of the 26 participating organizations. This code includes seven chapters: 1) General Provisions, 2) Basic Provisions, 3) Materials, 4) Design, 5) Protection and Fire Protection, 6) Construction and Acceptance, and 7) Maintenance and Demolition, putting forward the regulatory bottom-line requirements for the construction of timber structures. The other mandatory engineering construction codes announced at the same time also include codes for Engineering Structures, Hybrid Structures, Steel Structures, Building and Municipal Foundations, and more.

After the implementation of these mandatory engineering construction codes, relevant provisions in the existing engineering construction standards and industrial standards are rescinded. If provisions in the existing standards are inconsistent with the requirements in the new mandatory codes, the provisions in the mandatory codes shall prevail. This demonstrates tangible progress being made towards the improvement of codes and standards for wood construction in China. Serving as a voice on the task group reviewing the development of these codes and standards, Canada Wood China has advocated for international standards that account for the latest science regarding the possibilities for wood construction. These new mandatory codes will provide clearer regulations for the industry, which will help facilitate the process for project approvals, and serve as an encouraging factor for more developers and construction companies to build wood structures.