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
(L-R): Rick Marshall, Bird Construction; David Stones, CBEP Advisory Board Chair; Lawrence Toet, MP for Elmwood-Transona; David Rew, interim President of Red River College; Hon. Peter Van Loan, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.
Lawrence Toet, Member of Parliament for Elmwood–Transcona and the Honourable Peter Van Loan, Leader of Government in the House of Commons, and on behalf of Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), were at Red River College on July 7, 2015 to highlight a new investment to build a construction research centre that will spark partnerships with Winnipeg’s construction industry.
Red River College is receiving a Technology Access Centres Grant of $1.75 million—allocated over five years under the College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program—to build the Building Envelope Technology Access Centre. Red River College will work with the local construction industry to support innovation in building envelope design and construction, conduct applied research, and provide specialized education and training.
The CCI Program is managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
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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 m2to 19,788 m2 (1,615 ft2 to 212,918 ft2)
- 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
Red River College’s research relationship with Manitoba Hydro has resulted in an award for innovation from Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan). The award celebrates the College’s dynamic applied research partnership with Manitoba Hydro, in which energy efficiency of buildings plays a large role.
Read more about the award
CARSI is a leader in the testing of building construction materials
By Joel Schlesinger
Originally published in a Special Report by Research Manitoba
Few places can compare to Winnipeg for dramatic changes in weather.
Over the course of a typical year, this city’s temperatures will swing from a frigid -30 C in winter to a blazing hot 30 C in summer.
Those wild swings from icy cold to sizzling heat combined with heavy rain and snow loads can take a toll, especially on the materials used in the construction of roads and buildings.
Which brings us to Ray Hoemsen and his colleagues at the Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Development, also known as CARSI. The centre was conceived as a grass roots idea by the School of Construction and Engineering Technologies at Red River College.
Located on the Notre Dame Campus of Red River College, CARSI is one of places in Canada where builders can test materials for building envelopes – the outer walls of a building – to see how they hold up to the forces of Mother Nature.
To that end, the facility features a huge walk-in environmental testing chamber. Large enough for a car, the chamber has a barn-style door and is divided into two compartments, each of which can be independently controlled. On any given day, Hoemsen and his crew can turn the thermostat in either compartment down to – 40 C or up to 40 C; wall assemblies can be placed in a common wall opening and tested against temperature and humidity differentials.
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