AWC Releases New Standards Used to Design & Build U.S. Wood Structures

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AWC Releases New Standards Used to Design & Build U.S. Wood Structures 1
By: Jackson Morrill President &
CEO of the American Wood Council

The American Wood Council (AWC) has just released three new 2024 wood design standards: the National Design Specification® for Wood Construction (NDS®), Wood Frame Construction Manual (WFCM) for One- and Two-Family Dwellings, and Fire Design Specification for Wood Construction (FDS).

These publications are the result of five years of work by AWC staff and committees to update standards and codes to ensure the safety and stability of wood-based buildings. The AWC design standard process includes regular meetings of AWC’s Wood Design Standards Committee, comprised of interested parties, who review and vote on change proposals to AWC’s design standards in compliance with the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) consensus process.

AWC’s design standards represent the minimum requirements for building structural systems for residential and commercial buildings in the United States, meaning that to properly design and build a wood structure in the United States, AWC’s design standards will be used.

The three publications each have key updates to their provisions:

AWC Releases New Standards Used to Design & Build U.S. Wood Structures 2
  • The 2024 NDS, which serves as the primary design standard for wood structures, includes updates to shear design provisions for bending members, multi-ply connections, and fire design provisions.
AWC Releases New Standards Used to Design & Build U.S. Wood Structures 3
  • The updates to the 2024 WFCM were to align the manual with the updated wind and snow loading provisions in ASCE 7-22 for various wood structural elements like sawn lumber, structural glued laminated timber, wood structural panel sheathing, structural composite lumber, wood I-joists, and wood trusses.
AWC Releases New Standards Used to Design & Build U.S. Wood Structures 4
  • The 2024 FDS is an update to the 2022 version. The 2024 changes include calculation procedures to determine structural fire resistance, thermal separation, and burn-through resistance of protected and unprotected wood members. In addition, new provisions were added to address the added fire resistance and thermal protection provided by the addition of wood cover, gypsum panels, and insulation.

Both the 2024 NDS and WFCM are referenced in the International Code Council’s (ICC) 2024 International Building Code and 2024 International Residential Code. The 2024 FDS is not yet referenced in the building codes, however, AWC has introduced a series of code change proposals for the 2027 ICC model code development process to include a reference to the 2024 FDS. The 2027 I-code development process will continue for the next three years.

To supplement the 2024 standards, AWC has also released two design publications, the 2024 Span Tables for Joists & Rafters (STJR) and 2024 Design Values for Joists & Rafters (DVJR). These two publications assist in quickly determining the live or dead load combinations for floors, ceilings and rafters. AWC also has a tutorial to help users understand the structural principles of loads to better use the span tables.

Currently, AWC is in the process of compiling Commentaries on the recently released publications to further aid in the accessibility and adoption of wood construction. AWC has also completed two phases of testing of a wood structural panel (WSP) shear wall system, and the results could be included in the upcoming Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic (SDPWS), which will be published in 2027.

The current results suggest the WSP shear wall system could become a powerful new tool for designers as they attempt to meet ever-increasing seismic load requirements. The results of the testing will be presented to the AWC Wood Design Standards Committee, which will determine its inclusion.

All three 2024 standards as well as the STJR and DVJR are available for free viewing on the AWC website. A printed or electronic version of the 2024 NDS and 2024 WFCM will be available for purchase once the Commentaries are added later this year.

By Jackson Morrill

Jackson Morrill President & CEO American Wood Council

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