Madam Speaker, I am pleased to help my colleague on Bill C-429. I am an architect by profession, and I have always worked in the wood sector.
People say that working with wood is new, but wood was used in the past, and people are starting to use it again. I remember a time in my very long career when wood was used in large spaces. Huge beams 125 or 150 feet in length were made. All we are doing is going back to that. It is nothing new, just something that was forgotten.
I would like to thank the member for Madawaska—Restigouche for pointing out that although the current government boasts about having done great things for the forestry industry, it has actually done nothing. He and my NDP colleague talked mainly about sawmills.
Now, working in wood means using more than just 2x8s. How could a 250-foot structure—a structure much larger than this space—be built from 2x8s or 2x6s? You would glue lengths of wood together and nail together large wooden trusses. Often, lengths of wood from B.C. can be glued together to make laminated beams. This is engineered wood. These beams can be used to create huge spaces.
But I would like to come back to what the member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière said. He said shamelessly that domestic government contracts would not let us do that. He compares construction specifications to specifications for office paper or something you have to ask everyone to bid on.
How do you construct a new building or renovate an existing one? You determine the requirements and decide on the materials you want to use in the construction. That is what is done. If another parliament building like this one were built, we would say this one is in stone, so we want the new building to be built of stone. That is what we would say. We would not let the builders use what they want to build this parliament.
There are vinyls that can be glued to gypsum. No one would guess. The hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière believes that buildings are constructed without indicating in the design phase what the walls and floors will be made of. Come on. When someone asks for carpeting, it is not vinyl they want, it is carpet, and they will specify they want carpet. Why would anyone not specify they want wood? Here, for instance, we see that someone specified that they want wood. That is why the galleries are made of wood. Otherwise, they would be made of concrete or steel, or some other material.
We are not against specifications, but that is how a building is built. He has probably never in his life seen how a building is constructed, if his absurd comments are any indication. It makes no sense.
There are windows up above. According to him, one could not ask for windows. One would have to say they want any kind of glass, because something has to be put in the window frame, and that is all. Come on. If one does not say they want stone, they would get brick. If there was no brick, they would get something else. We can specify the materials we want when constructing buildings. So we can say we want a wooden structure. We can say we want wood siding and that will not harm any industry.
I apologize to the hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, but that is how it works in construction. It is not like the automotive industry.
We are told this will be difficult. Come on. At present, non residential building construction in Canada is worth $4.5 billion.
Research groups have studied the issue and have found that 85% of these buildings could be made of wood. Right now, only 10% to 15% of them are. We really need to start promoting the use of wood again.
The Bloc introduced Bill C-429 because the government is not a typical client. It is responsible for paying attention to struggling economic sectors. It is also responsible for reducing greenhouse gases—everyone is talking about that—and for boosting a struggling sector: the forestry industry.
When the government decides to build a building, it is free to decide which materials to use. That is what it does now when it says that a particular building would be better built of steel. It is in writing and I can prove it. That is what the government does when it asks architects how they plan to build a building.
That is why past experience convinced the Bloc Québécois that legislation is the best way to provide clear direction to officials in charge of projects. In other words, whether officials are in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal or Ottawa, if they want to build or add to a building, they can set out the requirements in the initial specifications and call for the use of wood. They can say they want stone walls or sculptures. In fact, they have to specify what they want, or the architect will have absolutely no idea how to design the building. That does not violate any laws of the market. That is how buildings get built. There is no other way to do it.
I would like to point out that there have been some major advances in the lumber sector in the past few years. We have the Centre d'expertise sur la construction commerciale en bois, which supports the use of wood in commercial construction, in other words, non-residential buildings. This group is working with new standards. Even though wood is not new, a lot of progress is happening right now. The goal is to increase the use of structural wood products and its presence in federal buildings because the government builds and renovates a lot of buildings. We see that here on Parliament Hill.
The CSA has created a new standard. This organization sets Canada-wide standards, and it just created a new one, standard 08609, for wood. Wood is being addressed.
I would like to point out that one cubic metre of wood absorbs one tonne of CO2, carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere. That is very significant. Therefore, to fight climate change, we must sequester carbon over the medium term. We must also give ourselves a chance to actively manage our forests.
I could say much more, but what I think is most important to remember is that 90% of government buildings are three storeys or less, and could easily be built out of wood, with no restrictions. At four storeys, we put in sprinkler systems. That is what the code recommends. Of these buildings, 75% are less than 2,000 square metres, which also allows for the use of wood.
We can see that there are a lot of possibilities with wood. I would have liked to talk about wood compared to steel and concrete, and the amount of energy required to build these structures. Wood requires much less energy. It is really a solution for the future, and we have plenty of wood here.
Instead of always trying to export it, we should use it, and the federal government must set an example.