In 2015, the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC)  adopted prescriptive provisions to allow the construction of mid-rise (5- and 6-storey) buildings using combustible construction. These types of buildings were already permitted under the British Columbia Building Code, as of 2009 . In2014 the Province of Ontario filed an amendment to also allow mid-rise wood buildings, however, it required that the exit fire separations be built using noncombustible construction having a fire resistance rating (FRR) of not less than 1.5-hr, which was an increase from the 1-hr requirement in the NBCC. The Québec Construction Code has also filed amendments to allow mid-rise wood construction and also limits exit stairwells to use noncombustible construction.
FPInnovations conducted a research project to study the construction of mid-rise wood exit shafts in Ontario and Québec. The scope of the project included an investigation into the concerns that have been raised in regards to the use of wood exits in mid-rise buildings, an analysis of recent Canadian fire statistics in residential multi-family structures, and a fire demonstration of a mass timber wall and supported light-frame floor. This report describes the fire demonstration completed as part of this project; this report acts as a supplement to the full project report.
The objective of this research is to address a knowledge gap related to fire performance of midply shear walls. Testing has already been done to establish the structural performance of these assemblies. To ensure their safe implementation and their broad acceptance, this project will establish fire resistance ratings for midply shear walls. Fire tests will provide information for the development of design considerations for midply shear walls and confirm that they can achieve at least 1-hour fire-resistance ratings that are required for use in mid-rise buildings.
This research will support greater adoption of mid-rise residential and non-residential wood-frame construction and improve competition with similar buildings of noncombustible construction. This work will also support the development of the APA system report for midply walls, which will be a design guideline for using midply walls in North America.
This literature review aims to provide a general picture of retrofit needs, markets, and commonly used strategies and measures to reduce building energy consumption, and is primarily focused on energy retrofit of the building envelope. Improving airtightness and thermal performance are the two key aspects for improving energy performance of the building envelope and subsequently reducing the energy required for space heating or cooling. This report focuses on the retrofit of single family houses and wood-frame buildings and covers potential use of wood-based systems in retrofitting the building envelope of concrete and steel buildings.
Air sealing is typically the first step and also one of the most cost-effective measures to improving energy performance of the building envelope. Airtightness can be achieved through sealing gaps in the existing air barrier, such as polyethylene or drywall, depending on the air barrier approach; or often more effectively, through installing a new air barrier, such as an airtight exterior sheathing membrane or continuous exterior insulation during retrofit. Interface detailing is always important to achieve continuity and effectiveness of an air barrier. For an airtight building, mechanical ventilation is needed to ensure good indoor air quality and heat recovery ventilators are typically required for an energy efficient building.
Improving thermal resistance of the building envelope is the other key strategy to improve building energy efficiency during retrofit. This can be achieved by: 1. blowing or injecting insulation into an existing wall or a roof; 2. building extra framing, for example, by creating double-stud exterior walls to accommodate more thermal insulation; or, 3. by installing continuous insulation, typically on the exterior. Adding exterior insulation is a major solution to improving thermal performance of the building envelope, particularly for large buildings. When highly insulated building envelope assemblies are built, more attention is required to ensure good moisture performance. An increased level of thermal insulation generally increases moisture risk due to increased vapour condensation potential but reduced drying ability. Adding exterior insulation can make exterior structural components warmer and consequently reduce vapour condensation risk in a heating climate. However, the vapour permeance of exterior insulation may also affect the drying ability and should be taken into account in design.
Overall energy retrofit remains a tremendous potential market since the majority of existing buildings were built prior to implementation of any energy requirement and have large room available for improving energy performance. However, significant barriers exist, mostly associated with retrofit cost. Improving energy performance of the building envelope typically has a long payback time depending on the building, climate, target performance, and measures taken. Use of wood-based products during energy retrofit also needs to be further identified and developed.
The purpose of this guide is to provide an introduction to the concept of encapsulated mass timber construction. This guide provides an overview of encapsulation techniques for mass timber construction, and other related fire protection measures, and summarizes some approved encapsulation materials and application methods and identifies additional requirements for safety during construction. This guide is intended to help architects, engineers and designers by reducing uncertainty and allowing for more confidence in design, as well as providing authorities having jurisdiction and inspectors with a reference for simple design review.
Funded by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry through FPInnovations with Morrison Hershfield Limited
Currently, mass timber building designs commonly incorporate a concrete floor topping. This can improve building accoustics by increasing the mass of the assembly, reduce floor vibration and create a smooth flat surface to install finish flooring on. The installation of concrete requires formwork, pouring and finishing the concrete and time to cure which adds to project schedules. One way to address this is to use mass timber elements that are prefabricated with concrete toppings preinstalled. Replaceing the concrete floor toppings wiht dry alternatives, such as cement board, may also reduce construction timelines, while still ensuring adequate acoustic and vibration performance. Cement board needs only to be screwed in place and can be walked on immediately after installation; this reduction in construction time may reduce overall project costs and help make wood buildings more cost competitive than other types of construction.
The objective of this work is to generate fire resistance data for NLT assemblies to address significant gaps in technical knowledge. This research will support designers and builders in the use of mass timber assemblies in larger and taller buildings, as well as provide scientific justification for Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to review and accept this construction method. The intent is to demonstrate that NLT construction can meet or exceed NBCC fire safety requirements for use in buildings of mass timber construction.
The data could be used towards the inclusion of an NLT fire resistance calculation methodology into Annex B of CSA O86 – Engineering Design for Wood , which currently addresses only glue-laminated timber (GLT), structural composite lumber (SCL) and cross-laminated timber (CLT).
The objective of this work is to generate fire performance data for NLT assemblies to address gaps in technical knowledge. This project aims to study how the size of gaps between NLT boards might affect charring of an assembly and its overall fire performance. This research will support designers and builders in the use of mass timber assemblies in larger and taller buildings, by ensuring fire safe designs.
The objective of this project is to establish fundamental fire performance data for the design and specification of NLT assemblies; this project specially addresses determining FSRs for NLT. The goal of this project is to confirm that NLT, when used as a mass timber element, has a lower FSR than standard thickness SPF boards when tested individually and flatwise. The project also considers how the surface profiles, design details, and the direction of an assembly might influence flame spread. This includes the evaluation of typical architectural features, such as a ‘fluted’ profile.
Having this technical information will support project approvals for the use of NLT elements in larger and taller wood buildings, as well as provide scientific justification for Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to review and accept this construction method. This research will provide the evidence for designers to demonstrate their design have met or exceeded fire safety requirements. Ultimately the intent is to expand the adoption of manufactured solid timber construction for larger and taller buildings, as well as for non-traditional wood markets (such as institutional or commercial buildings).
Other aspects of this project (in separate reports) include evaluating fire resistance of NLT, and assessing how NLT charring rates might be affected by gaps between boards.