Projects

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.

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.