Building high energy efficiency has become a must to reduce carbon emission from the built environment and to meet needs of consumers. Industrialized construction provides an effective way to produce highly insulated and airtight building envelopes to achieve superior building performance, such as Net Zero Energy. However, it is important that as other attributes (e.g., seismic, wind, fire, vibration, etc.) are being addressed, further research is needed to develop well rounded building envelope solutions. Meanwhile, improvement may be made in automated production equipment and software to optimize and monetize these solutions.
Neither the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) , nor any provincial code, such as the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC) , currently provide “acceptable solutions” to permit the construction of tall wood buildings, that is buildings of 7 stories and above. British Columbia, however, was the first province in Canada to allow mid-rise (5/6 storey) wood construction and other provinces have since followed. As more mid-rise wood buildings are erected, their benefits are becoming apparent to the industry, and therefore they are gaining popularity and becoming more desirable.
Forest product research has now begun to shift towards more substantial buildings, particularly in terms of height. High-rise buildings, typically taller than 6 storeys, are currently required to achieve 2 h fire resistance ratings (FRR) for floors and other structural elements, and need to be of non-combustible construction, as per the “acceptable solutions” of Division B of the NBCC . In order for a tall wood building to be approved, it must follow an “alternative solution” approach, which requires demonstrating that the design provides an equivalent or greater level of safety as compared to an accepted solution using non-combustible construction. One method to achieve this level of safety is by ‘encapsulating’ the assembly to provide additional protection before wood elements become involved in the fire, as intended by the Code objectives and functional statements (i.e., prolong the time before the wood elements potentially start to char and their structural capacity is affected). It is also necessary to demonstrate that the assembly, in particular the interior finishes, conform to any necessary flame spread requirements.
The Technical Guide for the Design and Construction of Tall Wood Buildings in Canada  recommends designing a tall wood building so that it is code-conforming in all respects, except that it employs mass timber construction. The guide presents various encapsulation methods, from full encapsulation of all wood elements to partial protection of select elements. National Research Council Canada (NRC), FPInnovations, and the Canadian Wood Council (CWC) began specifically investigating encapsulation techniques during their Mid-Rise Wood Buildings Consortium research project, and demonstrated that direct applied gypsum board, cement board and gypsum-concrete can delay the effects of fire on a wood substrate .
There is extensive data on the use of gypsum board as a means of encapsulation for wood-frame assemblies and cold-formed steel assemblies. However, tall wood buildings are more likely to employ mass timber elements due to higher load conditions, requirements for longer fire resistance ratings, as well as other factors. There is little knowledge currently available related to using gypsum board directly applied to mass timber, or in other configurations, for fire protection. Testing performed to date has been limited to direct applied Type X gypsum board using standard screw spacing, and showed promising results [5, 6, 7]. This represents an opportunity for other configurations that might provide enhanced protection of wood elements to be investigated.
Being able to provide equivalent fire performance of assemblies between non-combustible and combustible construction will thus improve the competiveness of tall timber buildings by providing additional options for designers.
Lack of research and design information for the seismic performance of balloon-type CLT shear walls prevents CLT from being used as an acceptable solution to resist seismic loads in balloon-type mass-timber buildings. To quantify the performance of balloon-type CLT structures subjected to lateral loads and create the research background for future code implementation of balloon-type CLT systems in CSA O86 and NBCC, FPInnovations initiated a project to determine the behaviour of balloon-type CLT construction. A series of tests on balloon-type CLT walls and connections used in these walls were conducted. Analytical models were developed based on engineering principles and basic mechanics to predict the deflection and resistance of the balloon-type CLT shear walls. This report covers the work related to development of the analytical models and the tests on balloon-type CLT walls that the models were verified against.
The latest developments in seismic design philosophy have been geared towards developing of so called "resilient" or "low damage" innovative structural systems that can reduce damage to the structure while offering the same or higher levels of safety to occupants. One such innovative structural system is the Pres-Lam system that is a wood-hybrid system that utilizes post-tensioned (PT) mass timber components in both rigid-frame and wall-based buildings along with various types of energy disspators. To help implement the Pres-Lam system in Canada and the US, information about the system performance made with North American engineered wood products is needed. That information can later be used to develop design guidelines for the designers for wider acceptance of the system by the design community. Several components influence the performance of the Pres-Lam systems: the load-deformation properties of the engineered wood products under compression, load-deformation and energy dissipation properties of the dissipators used, placement of the dissiaptors in the system, and the level of post-tensioning force. The influence of all these components on the performance of Pres-Lam wall systems under gravity and lateral loads was investigated in this research project. The research project consisted on two main parts: material tests and system tests.
In the material tests part of the program, a total of 110 compression tests were conducted to determine the load-deformation properties of four different engineered wood products (LVL, LSL, Glulam and CLT) in various directions. The LVL, LSL and Glulam specimens tested under compression parallel to grain had similar linear elastic behaviour with limited ductility. The CLT specimens tested under compression in the major-axis direction had linear elastic behaviour with moderate plasticity. Depending on the type of engineered wood product, typical failure modes included crushing, shear, wedge split and splitting. The compressive strength of the products tested ranged from 42.1 to 53.5 MPa, the global MOE (of the entire specimen under compression) varied between 6390 and 9554 MPa, the local (near the crushing surface) MOE parallel to grain was in the range of 2211 to 5090 MPa, while the local to global MOE ratio ranged from 29.2 to 58.0%, and was higher with the increase in the oven-dry density.
The specimens of the four different engineered wood products tested under compression perpendicular to grain or in the minor-axis direction had elastic-plastic behaviour with a clearly defined plastic plateau. Crushing (densification) of the fibres perpendicular to grain was the main failure mode for all specimens, and was in some cases followed by in-plane shear failure or cracking perpendicular to grain. Compression parallel to grain in the middle layer that was followed by its delamination and buckling was a unique failure mode for CLT specimens tested under compression in the minor strength direction. The compressive strength of the engineered wood products tested were in the range of 4.8 to 27.8 MPa, while the global and local MOE perpendicular to grain were in the range of 244 to 2555 MPa, and 320 to 1726 MPa, respectively. The compressive strength and global MOE perpendicular to grain increased with an increase in the oven-dry density. The results show no well-defined trend for the local MOE perpendicular to grain. The specimens loaded in the centre perpendicular to grain had higher strength, global and local MOE than those loaded at the end.
A convenient and timesaving design for the axial energy dissipators (fuses) was developed by replacing the epoxy in the original design with two half-tubes. Compared to the original design of fuses with epoxy, the new design with two half-tubes had similar necking failure mode and a longer failure displacment, thus providing user-friendly fuses that performed similar or even better than the original design.
In the system tests part of the program, a total of 17 different PT and Pres-Lam CLT walls with six different configurations were tested under monotonic and reversed cyclic loading. The studied parameters included the level of PT force, the position of the fuses, and the number of UFPs. CLT shear walls subjected only to post-tensioning, had non-linear elastic behaviour. The behaviour of the PT walls with and without energy dissipators was relatively similar under monotonic and cyclic loading. The strength degradation observed during the cyclic tests was low in all wall configurations suggesting that very little damage was inflicted upon the structure during the first cycles at any deformation level. Four major failure modes, including yielding and buckling of fuse, crushing and splitting of wood at the end of wall, and buckling of lumber in the exterior-layer of CLT wall, were observed in the tests. The yielding in fuses occurred at the early stage of loading as designed and the other failure modes happened when the lateral drift reached or beyond 2.5%.
The initial stiffness of the single-panel PT CLT walls tested ranged from 1.80 to 2.31 kN/mm, the load at the decompression point and 2.5% drift were in the range of 4.2 to 14.9 kN and 32.7 to 45.9 kN, respectively. The initial stiffness of the single-panel Pres-Lam CLT walls tested ranged from 1.69 to 2.44 kN/mm, the load at the decompression point and 2.5% drift were in the range of 21.0 to 30.2 kN and 59.6 to 69.8 kN, respectively. All the mechanical properties increased with an increase in the PT force. The average initial stiffness and the load at 2.5% drift of the coupled-panel Pres-Lam CLT walls tested were 4.59 kN/mm and 151.3 kN, respectively, while the load at the decompression point increased from 58.4 to 69.7 kN by increasing the number of UFP. The test results show that the behaviour of the Pre-Lam CLT shear walls can be de-coupled and a “superposition rule” can be applied to obtain the stiffness and resistance of such system.
The test results gave a valuable insight into the structural behaviour of the PT and Pres-Lam CLT shear wall under in-plane lateral loads. The data from the testing will be used in the future for development of numerical computer models. They will also be used for development of design guidelines for this system. All tests conducted in this study and the analyses in the future modelling research will form the basis for developing future design guidelines for PT and Pres-Lam mass timber systems.
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.
A system which integrates architectural and structural design issues for timber connections will be developed for a limited number of connections and loading conditions which are dealt with in various national and international codes and standards. The scope of engineering issues relevant to connections will be expanded to include a wide range of timber connections and engineering solutions which are not covered by code procedures. This will include cases such as 3-dimensional loading configurations, dynamic analysis of connections and more rigorous analysis procedures. Progress on these objectives is described.
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.