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Research Partnerships and Innovation

Research Partnerships & Innovation

BETAC

RRC receives grant to support building performance project for long-term care housing

September 14, 2021

Red River College (RRC) has received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) grant.

The grant supports a three-year project led by RRC’s Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre (BETAC) to provide building performance evaluations (BPE) and post-occupancy evaluations (POE) for existing and new long-term care homes (LTCHs) in Manitoba.

The built environment is a contributing factor for health outcomes, for example, poor air quality can be detrimental for people living with respiratory conditions. Additionally, poor air circulation can be connected to the spread of COVID-19.

The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on long-term care residents, highlights underlying issues and the need to re-think the design, construction, and operation of LTCHs.

With approximately 10,000 residents currently living in LTCHs in the province – and the number of long-term care beds required in Manitoba projected to drastically increase by 2035 – the building performance project is an important initiative that will help inform critical improvements, impacting lives of long-term care residents.

“Students from RRC’s Nursing, Architectural Engineering Technology and Construction Management programs are working in tandem with industry partners, which gives them a unique opportunity to develop their skillsets as they relate to industry and other program areas,” says Arnold Boldt, Executive Director, Academic, Red River College.

“The project not only provides students with applied knowledge for their future careers, but students are also getting the opportunity to help improve the lives of older adults in the community.”

The project has a strong interdisciplinary approach, engaging local industry partners – Efficiency MB, fT3 Architecture, MMP Architects Inc., and the University of Manitoba – alongside BETAC and RRC students. The interdisciplinary team is undertaking BPE, POE as well as using qualitative measures, including resident surveys, to determine perceived quality of life in the built environment.

The project brings to light the challenges of a global aging population, and how it relates directly to residents in LTCHs in Manitoba.

“The College and Community Innovation program provides innovative solutions for local and regional challenges through the expertise of Canadian colleges. On behalf of the Tri-agency, I would like to congratulate all college recipients and their industry and community partners who provide social, economic and environmental benefits to communities of all sizes across the country,” says Alejandro Adem, President, Natural Sciences and Research Council of Canada.

BETAC staff, industry partners, and RRC students are currently working on the first phase of the building performance project. In addition to BPE, the project also uses POE, an area where there’s currently a lack of data for LTCHs, helping generate benchmarks.

The project’s reach will extend beyond provincial borders, through building awareness and sharing findings at national conferences and online webinars.

Testing Artspan Inc.’s one-step building envelope solution

July 5, 2021

Artspan Inc. (Artspan) is a company based out of Winkler, MB, that designs, manufactures, and distributes structurally insulated panels (SIP). Artspan provides a one-step building envelope solution for residential, commercial, and industrial applications.

The company had previously conducted airtightness testing on completed houses, thermal testing on its insulation foam, and a variety of fire and structural testing. The Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre (BETAC) at Red River College performed further testing through an Engage Grant project, with financial support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The Engage Grant project with Artspan took place between 2018 and 2020, with the objective of conducting a performance assessment of the company’s panelized system and window installation details. Testing was broken down into three parts: air leakage and water penetration, air tightness and energy modelling, and thermal performance assessment.

Air Leakage and Water Penetration Testing

Air-Water-Structural (AWS) Test Chamber

Air-Water-Structural (AWS) Test Chamber

As mentioned, Artspan had previously conducted tests on its structurally insulated panels; However, testing of the panel joints (wall-to-floor, panel-to-panel, and floor-to-ceiling) and the window-wall interfaces had been limited. Resistance to air and water infiltration at these points is critical in cold and mixed climate zones, with regards to the building envelopes’ durability and its energy efficiency.

Experimental testing took place in the RRC Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure (CARSI), using the Air-Water-Structural (AWS) Test Chamber, to conduct air leakage and water penetration testing on three test walls.

Air Tightness Testing and Energy Modelling

The project also included a whole building air leakage test and energy modelling of the Artspan office building, located in Winkler, MB.

The overall objectives of the tests were two-fold:
a) To measure the airtightness of the office building built with Artspan SIP panels both during and post-construction.
b) To expand the general knowledge base on the airtightness characteristics of commercial-style buildings in Manitoba.

Air leakage in a building can never be eliminated. However, it can be managed and controlled within limits to minimize several potential issues, including:

  • Excessive energy costs, for both heating and cooling.
  • Poor occupant comfort – cold drafts, poor air quality, and inadequate temperature control.
  • Negative impacts upon the HVAC system which can degrade its efficiency.
  • Damage to the building and its component materials from moisture-related mechanisms of deterioration.

BETAC’s research personnel conducted the Standard Test Method for Measuring the Air Leakage Rate of a Large or Multizone Building, with two airtightness tests using the Envelope Protocol. The first test was conducted during construction – building was near completion with installed windows, drywall, and HVAC. The second airtightness test was conducted once the building had been completed, transported to its location, and was occupied.

Test results of the Artspan Inc. office building air tightness and energy modelling were plotted alongside values for various new and existing commercial buildings in Manitoba.

Thermal Performance Assessment

The final portion of the Artspan project was conducting a thermal performance assessment of the insulation used in their SIP. The purpose of this testing was to compare results from newly produced samples (one month) to aged samples (six years).

Four samples were provided for thermal testing – two aged for one month, and two aged for six years. The Netzsch Heat Flow Meter was used to test the panel foam by determining the thermal resistance of each insulation sample.

After the Engage Grant project was complete, BETAC research staff had an Interactive Visit with Artspan to conduct additional thermal testing on different versions of their panel foam.

RRC works with Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery to help build Canada back better

March 4, 2021

Red River College is proud to be a founding member of Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2), a group of climate-action leading colleges, Cégeps, institutions, and polytechnics from across Canada who have joined forces to educate a post-pandemic workforce to support a new climate-focused economic recovery.

C2R2 champions projects across Canada to:

  • support a recovery that delivers good jobs
  • positively impact for the environment, and
  • address socio-economic inequality.

By working together, colleges can help lead the transition to a clean economy. With a vision to build back better from the COVID-19 crisis, colleges are positioned to quickly develop thousands of training and research opportunities to help Canadians access good jobs, support the transition to the low carbon economy, and foster inclusion, diversity, and equity.

Alignment with current research programs

Through the leadership of Research Partnerships & Innovation, RRC has existing research programs that align with the coalition’s focus goals, such as RRC’s extensive electric vehicle applied research experience – particularly cold-weather performance, battery-pack redesign, redevelopment, and secondary use.

RRC’s Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre (BETAC) provides relevant industry training and applied research. BETAC has an array of specialized equipment that can enable and support energy efficient buildings.

C2R2 is working together to support the rapid development and deployment of new curriculum and research initiatives to support resilience in our towns and cities across Canada.

Follow along with C2R2 at resilientcolleges.ca.

Get hands-on with innovative building envelope research and tools from BETAC this Thursday, January 23

January 22, 2020

Don’t miss the Building Forensics Night, hosted by the Canada Green Building Council – an evening of engaging activity and discussion around building envelope diagnostics and forensic troubleshooting.

Participants are invited to tour BETAC’s testing laboratory at Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus. Learn about equipment and procedures for testing building envelope performance and diagnosing potential problems, get hands-on experience with thermographic imaging equipment and observe demonstrations of air tightness testing equipment.

Immediately after the event, there will be a debriefing and networking session at One Great City Brewing (1596 Ness Ave.) One drink and appetizers are included with the event registration cost.

When: Thursday, January 23, 2020, 5:45 – 7:45 p.m.
Where: Red River College Notre Dame Campus
Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre
2055 Notre Dame Ave.
Winnipeg, MB

Register now!

Report on Air Filtration: Cost of Air Sealing Measures

September 13, 2019

Over the last 30 to 40 years, hundreds of thousands of Canadian homes have been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption. These retrofits have included measures to reduce air leakage, increase the thermal resistance of the building envelope and replace or upgrade mechanical systems. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has been a central player in this field and has worked closely with provincial and territorial governments as well as various energy utilities to establish programs capable of assisting those who wish to retrofit their home. As part of these initiatives, approximately 950,000 houses have received pre-retrofit airtightness tests. Out of these, close to 780,000 have also had post-retrofit tests performed.

To read more, please download the full report: Air Filtration – Cost of Air-Sealing Measures – a report prepared for Sustainable Buildings and Communities CanmetENERGY, Natural Resources Canada, by Proskiw Engineering Ltd.

Three-Day Training Course: Large Building Airtightness Testing

July 23, 2019

New session starting October 2019

What you will learn:

  • Differences between residential and commercial tests
  • Building science and driving forces of air leakage
  • Testing standards and code requirements
  • Test considerations and planning
  • Required materials and equipment
  • First-hand experience with setup and use of blower door equipment
  • Trouble-shooting common problems encountered during testing

 

This workshop concludes with a full live test at the Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure (CARSI) at Red River College, which will incorporate diagnostic tools and data analysis.

Each session will be limited to 12 participants.

Course date and cost

Dates: October 16-18, 2019

Times: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (will end at 2 p.m. on the last day to allow time for travel)

Cost: $1,495 + GST (includes parking, lunch and morning coffee)

Location: Red River College, 2055 Notre Dame Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Registration

To register, call or email:
Alexis Epp
204.632.2036 | aepp33@rrc.ca

Instruction

Learn from instructors whose experience ranges from applied research-related to energy efficiency, field observation, commercial and residential airtightness testing, commissioning, education, training and more.

Additional course information:

Cory Carson
204.631.3325 | ccarson31@rrc.ca

Other course offerings can be found at rrc.ca/techsolutions

 

Saving money, saving the planet: RRC’s first Mitacs-funded project takes off at ACE Project Space

May 28, 2019

Matt Schaubroeck is in the business of making buildings smarter. The entrepreneur has teamed up with Red River College (RRC) to develop the software behind ioAirFlow, a product that’s been percolating for the past two years and is now being put into fruition at RRC’s ACE Project Space.

“Essentially, ioAirFlow is a data analysis tool,” says Schaubroeck. “We use big data to determine energy efficiency in commercial buildings.”

Matt Schaubroeck and Xinxin Wei work on the software behind ioAirFlow

ioAirFlow takes the concept of residential smart thermostats and applies it to commercial-industrial buildings. The goal is to make big buildings smarter and greener, with a technology that’s as accessible as possible.

The idea occurred to Schaubroeck when he was working on his MBA in a tech commercialization program. After meeting industry leaders and talking about his idea of a smart thermostat for commercial buildings, Schaubroeck realized there was a real need for the product.

“Everyone wants to save money on energy bills,” he says. “We want to save the planet at the same time.”

The big idea was there. Two years of research and development were in the books – including working with RRC’s Building Envelope Technology Access Centre (BETAC) last year, heating up a trailer behind the Notre Dame Campus in order to track temperature and humidity.

Schaubroeck worked alongside Steve Lawrence, Coordinator of the ACE Project Space, on the research proposal. Lawrence is also working as the academic supervisor/advisor for the project.

Earlier this month, the time finally came to put the idea into action. That’s where the ACE Project Space and funding from Mitacs came in, making this the first Mitacs-funded project at RRC.

“We’re thrilled to be the first Mitacs-funded project at ACE Project Space. Mitacs presented themselves as a great option to allow us to get into a space like this,” says Schaubroeck. “It’s such a great opportunity. We wouldn’t be here without their help.”

Mitacs is a national not-for-profit research network that has traditionally funded applied research collaborations at Canadian universities. Last year they began funding colleges, and with former RRC research manager Brent Wennekes taking the lead for Mitacs in Manitoba, RRC was one of the first colleges to sign on as a Mitacs partner institution.

“Mitacs is very pleased to be able to support this partnership with ioAirFlow with funding for their talented research intern,” says Wennekes. “RRC has been a national college leader in applied research for many years, and ACE Project Space has established itself as a key player in Winnipeg’s start-up community. Our program is perfect for start-up companies and with ACE, you get not only talent, but office space as well!”

Along with Xinxin Wei, a Business Information Technology (BIT) student from RRC, and the third member of their team, Amanda San Filippo, Schaubroeck is now working on the software, crunching the numbers on the program’s back-end.

“The big problem with energy efficiency is you have to be an expert to use it. The front end of this system is going to make it as easy to understand as possible,” he says. “We’re working with building owners to understand what they care about and how it’s going to make a difference.”

While the whole team had to face the challenge of learning the complicated technical language of the software programming, Xinxin Wei had to face the additional challenges of honing his English language skills and navigating a new country. The international student has just finished his first year of the BIT program and is thrilled to be working on ioAirFlow.

“I don’t have any experience in Canada,” says Wei. “The most important part for me is working with a real Canadian employer. I’ve been learning how to work with others, and the whole experience is very great.”

The team hopes to have the program off the ground by this fall. For more information on ioAirFlow, please visit their website.

Three-Day Training Course: Large Building Airtightness Testing

March 5, 2019

What You Will Learn

  • Differences between residential and commercial tests
  • Building science and driving forces of air leakage
  • Testing standards and code requirements
  • Test considerations and planning
  • Required materials and equipment
  • First-hand experience with setup and use of blower door equipment
  • Troubleshooting common problems encountered during testing

This workshop concludes with a full live test at the Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure (CARSI) at Red River College, which will incorporate diagnostic tools and data analysis.

Each session will be limited to 12 participants.

Course Dates and Cost

Dates: April 24-26, 2019 (spots available)

Times: 8:30am to 4:30pm (will end at 2pm on the last day to allow time for travel)

Cost: $1,495 + GST (includes parking, lunch and morning coffee)

Location: Red River College, 2055 Notre Dame Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Registration

To register, call or email:

Sheila Allarie
sallarie@rrc.ca
204-632-2038

Cancellation policy: Students who withdraw from a course seven days or less before the start date will be charged a $100 cancellation fee.

Instructors

Cory Carson
Cory is a Mechanical Engineering Technologist with over five years of experience in applied research related to energy efficiency, who has tested over 50 large buildings for airtightness.

Kevin Knight
Kevin is a building envelope authority with over 35 years of experience in field observation and testing, commissioning, research, education and training.

Gary Proskiw
Gary is a mechanical engineer with 40 years of experience; he has conducted hundreds of airtightness tests on houses and commercial buildings and has been active in code and standard development.

Additional Course Information

Cory Carson
204.631.3325 | ccarson31@rrc.ca

Other course offerings can be found at rrc.ca/techsolutions.

BETAC in the news: Journal of Commerce

February 13, 2019

Red River College’s Building Envelope Technology Access Centre (BETAC) was in the news this week, with a mention in the Journal of Commerce by ConstructConnect. The article highlights BETAC’s partnership with SMT Research Ltd. to monitor the health of the Skilled Trades and Technology Centre as it was being built.

“SMT partnered with Red River College’s (RRC) Building Envelope Technology Access Centre (BETAC) to monitor the structural health of the Skilled Trades and Technology Centre (STTC) as it was being built on the RRC Notre Dame campus in Winnipeg.

Structural health monitoring helps to ensure that new buildings are energy-efficient, durable and perform as expected.

BETAC and SMT installed a wide network of sensors throughout the building as it was under construction.

A total of seven different building envelope types were instrumented throughout the exterior building envelope, as well as the roof and green roof assemblies.

The effectiveness of the STTC’s building envelope, which helps protect its occupants from the extremes of Winnipeg’s climate, will continue to be monitored in real time.”

Read the full article here.

Lunch and Learn: Starting Out and Scaling Up with Federal Support

May 1, 2018

Join industry, business, and applied research leaders for this Lunch and Learn to explore how federal support can bring your work to the next level.

Get a practical snapshot of the spectrum of federal programming available from exploratory applied research, to pre-commercialization, and support for late-stage procurement and testing.

Date: Thursday, May 10, 2018
Time:
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Location: Prairie Lights, Notre Dame Campus, Red River College

This event is being organized by the Research Partnerships & Innovation office at Red River College in collaboration with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Register for the event today