Project Date
Thermally Broken Concrete Balconies August, 2017
Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre May-June, 2017
Thermal Testing of Polycarbonate Windows for Local Manufacturer May, 2017
Manitoba Masonry Institute Summer, 2017
Whole Building Energy Performance Assessment of Deep Energy Retrofit Summer, 2017
Twin Building Case Studies Summer, 2017
Energy Efficiency Technology Assessment: Drain Water Heat Recovery Evaluation Summer, 2017
York Landing Nursing Station June, 2017
Large Building Air Tightness Testing Training September, 2017
Bluebird Lodge – Airtightness Testing October, 2016
Townview Manor – Airtightness Testing
October, 2016
École Heritage Immersion – Construction Airtightness Testing October, 2016
Collaboration: Red River College and ft3 Architects June, 2016
Ladco Lakepointe Apartment Investigation April, 2016
Roof Replacement – Gerdau April, 2016
Building Envelope Design – Medicinal Marijuana Grow Operation N/A
Air, Water, Structural Chamber Commissioning N/A
Building Product Commercialization Roadmap N/A
Large Building Airtightness Testing June, 2015
Multi-Unit Residential Buildings – Air Leakage Testing August, 2015
Ecole Noel Ritchot – Air Leakage Testing October, 2015
Fort Whyte Alive – Air Leakage Testing December, 2015

Thermally Broken Concrete Balconies Project

This project is focusing on developing cost-effective systems for the implementation of thermally broken concrete slabs for residential mid/high-rise construction. Traditionally, concrete balconies in mid/high-rise residential buildings are designed as an extension to the floor slab, constructed as a one or two-way reinforced concrete slab that is cantilevered out past the building’s exterior wall. Without a thermal break, the balcony easily conducts heat causing a significant amount of heat loss in the winter, leaving the floor slab and window-wall assembly considerably cooler than the interior temperature, resulting in condensation. If not properly controlled, materials eventually start to degrade, reducing the integrity and safety of the structure, and even compromising the indoor air quality from mold growth.

This project includes experimentally investigating different forms of thermal insulation materials and different types of rebar and then performing thermal testing and analysis, and structural testing on these materials. Red River College’s Building Envelope Technology Access Centre (BETAC) is providing the laboratory space for casting samples and the environmental chambers needed for the thermal testing. The main project team includes the College, the University of Manitoba, Crosier Kilgour & Partners and SMT Research.

The first phase of this project started in June, 2016, and is due to complete in August, 2017. The completion of phase two is to be determined.

Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre

The Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was built in 1981. One of the Centre’s buildings recently underwent renovations in 2016, upgrading its building envelope and mechanical systems. This upgrade included installing insulated metal roof panels and insulated metal wall paneling as the new exterior shell to the building.

BETAC’s involvement with the project was to perform a whole building airtightness test so the owner could see how efficient the retrofit has been, to then document the results of the test, and to provide a comparison of the results to Red River College’s database of large building air leakage rates for reference. The College will also offer a strategy for any future additional remedial work on the building to ensure it meets the requirements.

Thermal Testing of Polycarbonate Windows for Local Manufacturer

The objective of this project was to compare and evaluate the thermal performance of two samples of a polycarbonate glazing, which behave similarly to Insulated Glass Units (IGU), provided by a local window manufacturer to the Building Envelope Technology Access Centre (BETAC) at the College.
BETAC used the College’s dual environmental chambers in the Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure lab (CARSI) to compare the thermal performance of the two samples using a benchmark from a material with a known thermal resistance. The polycarbonate samples each had different thicknesses, and heat flux sensors were used to measure the thermal transfer across the samples under a set temperature differential, which followed a specific ASTM Standard.
Results of this test can be used for further research and development of the manufacturer’s products.

Manitoba Masonry Institute

Coming up this summer, 2017, the Red River College (RRC) will be housing three new 8’ x 8’ x 8’ test huts on the Notre Dame Campus. RRC will be assisting the construction, research, monitoring, and data acquisition for this Manitoba Masonry Institute (MMI)-led project, with partners and advisors from Crosier Kilgour & Partners and the University of Manitoba.
The objective of the project is to compare the heating and cooling loads of the three test huts, then look for any effects the thermal mass of the building envelope may have on these heating and cooling loads. Each of the test huts will have a different method of wall construction, but all will have the same masonry veneer as the exterior.

MMI want to explore some of the thermal mass benefits that masonry provides, specifically its effect at dampening large temperature fluctuations. Thermal mass can delay the transfer of heat from the interior to the exterior environment when it’s cold outside, and vice versa during hot summer days, potentially saving on heating and cooling loads. Although this can be effective in climates where the days are hot and the nights are cool, there is still uncertainty on whether thermal mass offers these benefits in a climate like Winnipeg that often does not reach temperatures above freezing in the daytime hours of our winter season. The heating and cooling loads for the three test huts will be monitored for 1 – 2 years, ensuring they capture enough data from each season. The test huts will be spaced such that each receives same exposure to wind, sun, and precipitation.

Whole Building Energy Performance Assessment of Deep Energy Retrofit

This project involves Red River College (RRC) working alongside Manitoba Hydro and Manitoba Housing to monitor the energy usage of Donwood Manor – a 119-unit personal care home located in North Kildonan that recently completed major upgrades to its building envelope and mechanical systems (heating, cooling and ventilation).

Energy models for both the pre-retrofit and post-retrofit design were developed to determine how the new building changes would contribute to the overall building energy profile. Sensors, meters, and gauges will be installed this summer to monitor, measure, and verify the energy and water performance of the building for at least one continuous year. Finally, a comparative analysis of the modelled energy usage and the actual energy usage of the building will be performed.

Findings from this project will be of benefit to others in the building industry; therefore, a presentation of these results will be developed to share at industry association meetings, seminars, and speaking engagements (e.g. Manitoba Building Envelope Council, Building Energy Management Manitoba, Manitoba Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council, ASHRAE Manitoba Chapter), and events such as the annual Better Buildings Conference in Winnipeg.

Twin Building Case Studies

For this project Red River College is working with Manitoba Housing on three case studies for three sets of “twin MURBs” (pairs of multi-unit residential buildings that have identical size, floor area and floor plans) located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. One building from each pairing has undergone an extensive building retrofit and the other building pairing remains in its original condition. These case studies will document the pre- and post- retrofit energy performance of the buildings, as well as review each set of buildings to identify the extent of the renovations to each building, and their associated timelines.

Energy Efficiency Technology Assessment:
Drain Water Heat Recovery Evaluation

Drain-water heat recovery (DWHR) systems recover heat from a building’s wastewater and use it to preheat the fresh incoming water, thereby reducing the overall domestic hot water (DHW) load. All new Part 9 (residential) construction in Manitoba, as part of the province’s review of Section 9.36 of the National Building Code (other than for houses with slab-on-grade or crawl space foundations), now require a DWHR system. Their introduction into mid/high-rise multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) has been extremely limited.

The objective of this project is to investigate and assess the energy efficiency, effectiveness, and performance of vertical, sloped and horizontal DWHR systems for MURB applications. Red River College (RRC) will be working with Gary Proskiw, Manitoba Hydro, and Manitoba Housing on this project.

The majority of information and testing available for DWHR performance was developed for vertical installations. However, the accessible portions of the drain lines in MURBs are predominately horizontal or sloped at 45°. Therefore, the College will conduct a series of laboratory trials to evaluate the heat recovery performance of typical DWHR units installed in vertical, horizontal and sloped (45°) configurations with the use of Red River College’s plumbing workshop. Surface temperatures and in-line temperatures will be monitored to permit better correction between the two variables for use in future field screening applications.

York Landing Nursing Station

BETAC staff will be going to York Landing, Manitoba. There is a nursing station that was constructed in 2000 that has since encountered some roof damage due to ice damming. Based on site visits performed by Tower Engineering Group, GW Architecture Inc., and QCA Building Envelope Ltd. in November, 2016, it was discovered that significant amounts of insulation had been missing, moved, or become detached in the attic space, causing substantial amounts of heat to travel into the attic and melt the snow on the roof – resulting in ice damming. In order to rectify this issue, the nursing station will be undergoing an envelope upgrade that is projected to begin in July, 2017.

York Factory First Nation had expressed interest to collaborate with RRC to perform an air leakage test on the building. The objective of this applied research project is to capitalize on RRC’s abundance of knowledge and recent experiences in conducting air leakage tests on larger buildings, and conduct testing of the existing building prior to any renovations. The pre-renovation test will use smoke machines and infrared thermography to identify the major leakage paths and air barrier deficiencies, particularly focusing on the leakage paths to the unconditioned attic space; however, diagnostic testing will identify other problem areas throughout the entire building as well.

While there, RRC will provide one training session for any interested persons from York Factory on the basics of building science, with an emphasis on the impact of air leakage and its testing. Afterwards, any training session attendees from York Factory are encouraged to witness and assist with the building test, with specific engagement during the diagnostic testing of the building. A post-renovation test is recommended after the work has been completed, to ensure a reduction in air leakage has been realized, especially for major leak paths.

Large Building Air Tightness Testing Training

Increasing air tightness in a building is now widely recognized as one of the most influential factors affecting the building’s performance in terms of energy use, comfort, indoor air quality, durability and even noise transmission. Even though airtightness testing of residential houses is quite common, airtightness testing of commercial buildings is only now starting to grow. Testing equipment is now evolving to measure a larger range of commercial building types; however, since this type of testing is still relatively new to the United States and Canada, there remains very few qualified personnel able to perform these tests to specific standards.

This 3 day course educates participants on testing standards and code requirements; the differences between residential and commercial tests; building science and driving forces of air leakage; test considerations and planning; and required materials and equipment. The workshop also focuses on the setup and use of blower door equipment, and finishes with a full live test of the CARSI building at Red River College, which will incorporate diagnostic tools and analysis/reporting of the test data.

Bluebird Lodge – Airtightness Testing

The objective of this applied research project is to conduct air tightness testing on the Bluebird Lodge, a mid-rise, multi-unit residential building (MURB), located in northwest Winnipeg, through measuring the pre-and-post retrofit airtightness of the building. Additionally, these results will be used to further expand Red River College’s growing database on airtightness characteristics of large commercial-style buildings which began in 2013 with the testing of 26 buildings in Manitoba.

Manitoba Housing has expressed interest in collaborating with RRC to further these research activities as they apply to their portfolio of buildings, located around the province.

The Bluebird Lodge is currently undergoing a major building envelope upgrade, which got underway in late 2016. The upgrade is focused primarily on the exterior wall system.

Post-retrofit airtightness testing will be carried out once the retrofit is completed.  This is anticipated to occur in 2017 or 2018.

Townview Manor – Airtightness Testing

The Townview Manor in Minnedosa, Manitoba is a mid-rise, multi-unit residential building (MURB) that is undergoing a major building envelope upgrade, focused primarily on the exterior wall system and installation of a new wall system, new windows and a new high performance ventilation system. RRC conducted the pre-retrofit airtightness test on June 30, 2016 and construction on the retrofit began in late 2016. The post-retrofit airtightness testing will be carried out once the retrofit is completed.  This is anticipated to occur in 2017 or 2018.

RRC will be using the results of this testing to further expand their growing data base on airtightness characteristics of large commercial-style buildings which began in 2013 with the testing of 26 buildings in Manitoba. Manitoba Housing has expressed interest in collaborating with RRC to further these research activities as they apply to their portfolio of buildings, located around the province.

École Heritage Immersion – Construction Airtightness Testing

In 2014/15 the École Heritage Immersion School in St Pierre-Jolys, Manitoba, underwent a major building envelope upgrade including complete removal and replacement of the west and north exterior walls plus the courtyard area. As part of this work, RRC conducted a pre-retrofit test on the building in 2013 to quantify its air leakage characteristics and to identify significant air leakage sources on the building envelope. Following the retrofit, a second test was performed in 2016, allowing the impact of the test to be assessed.

The retrofit was able to reduce the measured air leakage of the building by over one-third, depending on the metric. The Equivalent Leakage Area (ELA10) was reduced by 34%, or 0.39 m2 (4.2 ft2).

The Public Schools Finance Board has expressed interest in collaborating with RRC to further these research activities as they apply to schools around the province.

Collaboration: Red River College and ft3 Architects

As more research is being performed and more knowledge is being shared about the importance of managing and controlling air leakage within the building envelope, leaders in the building design industry are stepping forward to collaborate Red River College to ensure their structures are performing as they are meant to.

Cornerstone Life Lease Estates is a seniors housing facility in northeast Winnipeg, consisting of 52 units for both independent and assisted living. The facility was designed by ft3 Architects, who are interested in monitoring the performance of the building and using the results to inform future designs and specifications for future projects. Red River College, through its Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) funding, has installed sensors within the buildings’ heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. The data is gathered on an ongoing basis, allowing them to monitor the energy performance characteristics of the building.

The second project that ft3 and Red River College are collaborating on is St. Matthews Church, which was newly renovated in 2014 and now serves a different purpose to the community. The worship and office spaces were transformed into 26 new housing units for families in the inner city neighborhood. They also created smaller worship areas for numerous congregations and a drop-in centre. The building is now referred to as the WestEnd Commons.

During the renovation, the building envelope was modified with the addition of interior insulation to the brick structure. Red River College has installed moisture and temperature sensors within the wall sections (through NSERC funding), to monitor and compare the moisture and temperature levels against the performance levels generated from the computer model. The other purpose is to ensure excess moisture is not accumulating over time within the brick façade. Data will be provided to ft3 on an ongoing basis, as this information may serve to better inform design decisions for heritage building retrofits in the future.

Ladco Lakepointe Apartment Investigation

Air leakage and thermal bridging can significantly impact the efficiency, durability, and longevity of a building. Air leaks and thermal bridges affect the building’s energy costs, the comfort of the occupants, the efficiency of the HVAC system, and can even cause damage to the building’s structure and materials. Although air leakage can never be eliminated in a building, it can be managed and controlled to minimize a number of potential threats.

Red River College (RRC) worked with Synyshyn Architecture to support and further their evaluation of the building envelope system for The Ladco Lakepointe Apartments located in southeast Winnipeg.

RRC conducted thermal scans of the building envelope from the exterior of the apartments and limited scans from the interior due to access. We also pressurized one apartment to further enhance the identification of air leakage pathways by thermography.

By identifying these deficiencies in the building envelope with respect to thermal bridging, heat loss and air leakage, this will assist Synyshyn Architecture with any future repairs and retro-fit programs.

Roof Replacement – Gerdau

Red River College, through its new Building Envelope Performance Technology Access Centre, is working in conjunction with Hatch’s Structural Consultant in Winnipeg for Gerdau Ameristeel Corporation. Gerdau is undertaking a major renovation of one of its buildings, the Melt Shop Facility at its Manitoba Mill located in Selkirk, MB. The building in question houses an industrial process with extreme process conditions (heat, particulate matter, corrosive materials) and is subject to a planned roof replacement. The research undertaken by RRC was to address the building and material science uncertainties created by the extreme conditions from the industrial process and Manitoba climate.

The current roof has reached its intended life service target of fifty years, however the interior and exterior has corroded substantially. This has resulted in increasing heat loss in the winter as well as water ingress into the building. The final project report addresses the mechanisms that led to the roof damage, as well as the various design and maintenance considerations for this particular building that is subject to such extreme internal and external conditions.

Building Envelope Design – Medicinal Marijuana Grow Operation

The requirements to become a licenced to grow operation for medical marijuana in Canada is governed by the Federal Minister of Health Controlled Substances and Tobacco Directorate Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch. A Guidance Document titled the Building and Production Security Requirements for Marijuana for Medical Purposes has been published. The Regulatory Provisions are related to securing the site, monitoring and detection, access control, intrusion detection and air filtration. Whilst the Guide addresses the security and health issues it offers no information or guidance on the design and construction of the building housing the growth operation.

This project entails the development of a best practices guide which addresses the requirements for the building envelope of medical marijuana production facilities in cold climates. The nature of growing marijuana involves operating in conditions of high temperature and humidity. The building envelope must be capable of supporting the controlled interior environment during the winter months, meet the production facilities service life expectations and be compliant with all Government regulations.

Air, Water, Structural Chamber Commissioning

The installation of an air, water and structural test chamber for evaluating building components and wall systems at the Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure (CARSI) facility at RRC’s main campus in Winnipeg will enhance the College’s capacity to conduct applied research and provide training in the area of building envelope performance.

RRC’s new test chamber will allow building envelope details, windows and doors to be evaluated for airtightness, water penetration and structural testing prior to their use in actual construction. This will accelerate the adoption of new and innovative materials, products and assemblies for projects in Manitoba. Training activities for building professionals and students enabled by RRC’s new test chamber will increase the use of best practices for design and construction. Test walls that will be used for commissioning activities of the new chamber will be constructed in-house by RRC Construction Trades’ students.

Download one page PDF about service here.

Building Product Commercialization Roadmap

The development of new products for the construction industry can be a very long, expensive and even daunting process. Further, almost all products used in the construction industry have to comply with one or more technical standards which define the minimum requirements the product must meet. Entrepreneurs and businesses who are developing or considering developing new products need to understand this process.

For that reason, RRC is developing a “Building Product Commercialization Roadmap” which explains the regulatory hurdles which must be met to bring a new construction product to market. It also provides insight into the product development process and how RRC’s Building Envelope Technology Access Centre (BETAC) can provide contract services for new product development to assist with research, evaluation and testing.

Large Building Airtightness Testing

There is a growing recognition of the need to establish performance targets for the airtightness of buildings either through regulations or voluntary programs. Before this occurs, further research is required to establish baseline air leakage rates and appropriate building airtightness targets (and, for specific building types/uses such as schools).

Between 2012 and 2014, with the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Manitoba Hydro, a total of 26 commercial buildings in Manitoba were tested. Overall, they represented a fairly diverse sample of Manitoba’s commercial construction: 18 (69%) were situated in the City of Winnipeg; they ranged in age from one to over 100 years; floor areas varied from 150 m2 to 19,788 m2 (1,615 ft2 to 212,918 ft2); and building heights ranged from one to 16 stories. Five of the structures were owned by Manitoba Hydro who also provided financial and in-kind support for the project. The rest were occupied by a variety of private and public owners. An effort was also made to include a few buildings that were undergoing, or had recently completed, a major building envelope retrofit.

While RRC’s work in this area has greatly expanded the knowledge in this area, the number of large buildings tested is still quite small especially when compared to low-rise residential dwellings. The following three projects illustrate RRC’s ongoing efforts in this area through BETAC:

See the final project report →

Multi-Unit Residential Buildings – Air Leakage Testing

The research project described in this report was carried out to explore some of the unique problems associated with performing airtightness tests on occupied Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs). Current airtightness testing methods and standards are predicated on the assumption that the testing agency has complete control over the building and its operation during the test period. With unoccupied buildings, this is seldom a problem. However, if the building is an occupied MURB, then major issues arise. Occupant access has to be limited during certain critical portions of the testing, interior doors must be kept open and suite windows have to be kept closed. These last two issues (interior door and suite window positions) were the main focus of this project.

Using two unoccupied and four occupied MURB’s, ranging in size from 8 to 124 units, a series of airtightness tests were conducted to determine if reliable results could be obtained with interior suite doors closed and a limited number of windows partially open. The results of this work indicated that conducting an airtightness test with occupied suites and closed doors is indeed possible by applying a correction factor; however all windows must be kept closed during testing. It was found that building owner cooperation and participation during the test is essential.

See the final project report →

Ecole Noel Ritchot – Air Leakage Testing

This objective of this applied research project is to conduct airtightness testing on Ecole Noel Ritchot, located in St. Norbert, Winnipeg. The Public Schools Finance Board has expressed interest in collaborating with RRC to further the research activities on large building air leakage testing.

Ecole Noel Ritchot will be undergoing a major envelope upgrade in 2016. Also, a planned expansion of approximately 30,000 sq.ft. will be added to the school around the same time. The project will involve the testing of the existing building prior to the renovations and expansion as well as comparative testing after the work has been completed. The tests will be designed to enable the pre- and post-renovation air leakage rates of the existing portion of the school independent of the new addition. Post-renovation testing will also provide air leakage rates for the new, larger building as a whole. Pre-renovation tests were completed during the summer of 2015.

Fort Whyte Alive – Air Leakage Testing

The objective of this applied research project is to conduct airtightness testing on the interpretive centre at Fort Whyte Alive, located in southwest Winnipeg. The interpretive centre will be undergoing a major envelope upgrade that is projected to take place in 2016. The project will involve the testing of the existing building prior to the renovations as well as comparative testing after the work has been completed. During the pre-renovation test, major leakage paths will be identified through the use of diagnostic tools such as smoke machines and infrared thermography.

The results of the pre-renovation testing, which was completed in December 2015, will help guide the scope of work for the retrofits. An article about the pre-renovation testing was published in the Globe and Mail.