A team of researchers at the Building Envelope and Technology Access Centre (BETAC) partnered with SMT Research to monitor the structural health of the Skilled Trades and Technology Centre (STTC) being built at Red River College.
Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) of bridges and heritage buildings are essential to ensure modern rehabilitation techniques and materials continue to perform as expected. SHM systems also play a key role to ensure new buildings perform as expected with respect to energy efficiency and durability.
- The BETAC and SMT Research team installed a substantial network of sensors embedded throughout the new STTC.
- A total of seven different building envelope types have been instrumented throughout the exterior building envelope as well as the roof and green roof assemblies.
- The measurements from these sensors can be compared to controlled tests performed on mock-up test walls in the Dual Environment Test Chamber located in the Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure (CARSI) at Red River College.
- Field analysis will be performed in real-time during normal building occupancy throughout the temperature extremes inherent to Winnipeg.
A paper on our work was presented at the 8th International Conference on Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure in Brisbane, Australia, in December, 2017.
The paper focused on the application of advanced sensor networks and data visualization techniques on a building instrumented as a ‘living lab’ located in Winnipeg, Canada.
This three-day course educated participants on:
- Air tightness testing standards and code requirements
- the differences between residential and commercial air tightness tests
- building science and driving forces of air leakage
- test considerations and planning
- required materials and equipment
The workshop also focused on the setup and use of blower door equipment, and finished with a full live test of the CARSI building at Red River College, which incorporates diagnostic tools and analysis/reporting of the test data.
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 project focuses 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 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, and 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. 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.
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. BETAC will be working with Gary Proskiw, Manitoba Hydro, and Manitoba Housing on this project.
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 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, BETAC 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.
For this project, BETAC 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.
This project involves BETAC 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.
York Factory First Nation is collaborating with BETAC to perform an air leakage test on a nursing station built 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.
The objective of this applied research project is to capitalize on BETAC’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, BETAC staff 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.
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.
- BETAC will also offer a strategy for any future additional remedial work on the building to ensure it meets the requirements.
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 Red River College.
Research and Services Provided
- BETAC used the Red River 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.
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, BETAC 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 BETAC to further these research activities as they apply to schools around the province.