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 wood products industry wants to expand its market share in non-residential buildings. This is a challenging goal because building codes exhibit a bias against the use of wood products, particularly in the construction of non-residential buildings. The move towards adoption of performance-based building codes offers the promise of eliminating such biases. However, in order to be prepared for the introduction of performance-based codes, architects, engineers and building code officials have pointed out the need for engineering tools to assess the fire performance of buildings.
This five-year project was initiated to develop fire-safety design tools for non-residential wood-frame buildings, and to foster development and delivery of educational programs to train students and practitioners in performance-based fire-safety design. In order to achieve these goals an NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Fire Safety Engineering was established at Carleton University in March of 2001. This report summarises the progress towards these goals made by the Chair in his first year of tenure.