Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Letter to Ontario MPPs Regarding Opposition to Bill 13


The CSSBI is a member of the Coalition for Fair Construction Practices. A sub-group of representatives from the Ontario construction industry sent a letter to all Ontario MPPs on March 18, 2014 to identify some principal concerns we have with respect to Private Members' Bill 13. The information below includes excerpts from that letter. At the bottom of this post is a link to download the letter in its entirety. We invite you to read more about this issue and to contact your local MPP to express any opinions or concerns you may have.

Bill 13 - Ontario Forestry Industry Revitalization Act (Height of Wood Frame Buildings), 2013

The Bill introduced by Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli would politically direct the amendment o the Ontario Building Code (OBC) to allow for wood frame construction to be used in mid-rise buildings up to six stories from the current four stories and completely bypass the normal and established code process. We feel it is important to present our concerns with this Bill.

Code Changes should be made by Technical Professionals NOT Politicians

We were disappointed to learn that the Bill received passage at second reading in the Legislature and was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs for further study and review. One of the topics that we have been following over the past two years has been the proposed amendments to the OBC and the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) being put forward by the wood industry. Our Coalition believes that any proposed changes to the OBC should go through the proper and established code development process and public review that all construction materials are subjected to prior to any amendments being finalized.

It is important to note that in 2011, the Ontario Part 3 and 4 Technical Advisory Committees, consisting of engineers, architects, firefighters, and other professional representatives, rejected any changes to mid-rise wood-frame construction codes. These representatives are leaders in their industry and provide independent and balanced advice based on their expertise and for the safety of Ontarians. The Ontario government ultimately listened to the Committees' recommendations and no amendments were made with respect to the maximum height allowance of mid-rise wood frame construction when the revised Ontario Building Code was announced in November 2012.

Safety Concerns of Utmost Importance

The Ontario Coalition for Fair Construction Practices believes that any potential changes must address all safety and fire implications and do so through the normal code process. The massive fires that have recently destroyed several multi-storey wood buildings under construction in the last two years include Kingston, ON where the crane operator had to be heli-rescued; Richmond, BC; and Edmonton and Calgary, AB demonstrate how dangerous and unsafe wood-frame buildings are while  under construction. The tragic loss of senior citizens in L'Isle-Verte, QC in January 2014 demonstrates how dangerous these buildings can be in operation and how many lives can be put at risk as a result. There are significant safety issues, public and private liability and other consequences, especially with moving too quickly on potential Code changes.

Read the full letter to Ontario MPPs.


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Life Cycle Assessment of Steel Framed Homes

One of the key sustainable attributes of steel is its ability to be recycled without the loss or degradation of its inherent material properties. The recyclability of steel allows for it to exist for potentially an infinite number of product life cycles.

Steel benefits from the most comprehensive and accessible collection infrastructure of any material, and not just in North America, but around the world. Steelmaking practice ensures that there is a minimum of 28% recycled steel content in every ton of steel produced. Economic and environmental considerations have driven technological advances in electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmaking technology. EAF technology utilizes a 100% recycled steel charge.

Life Cycle Assessment

Life cycle assessment, or LCA, is a tool for comprehensively measuring and accounting for the resource consumption and environmental burdens associated with a product over its life.

The life cycle of a product typically represents a number of distinct phases. In the construction context a condensation of the major phases includes:
  • Raw Material Extraction and Manufacture - the resource consumption and burdens associated with the conversion of raw materials from the earth to finished building components;
  • Construction - the resource consumption and burdens associated with the fabrication of the home; 
  • Use - the utilization of the home for its intended purpose; 
  • Post Use - the demolition, recycling/disposal of base materials. 

LCA is methodologically rigorous, requiring the completion of four steps. The steps are:

  1. Goal and Scope Definition - the demarcation of the physical boundaries round the product system which is to be examined; 
  2. Life Cycle Inventory, LCI - the data collection phase, consisting of the measurement and accounting of all material and energy inputs, outputs, and emissions; 
  3. Life Cycle Impact Assessment, LCIA - the categorization of the various emission types into common environmental themes expressed in a uniform metric; 
  4. Interpretation - the evaluation of each environmental theme as a potential environmental impact.
Download the PDF of our Lightweight Steel Framing Technical Bulletin Volume 3, Number 1: Life Cycle Assessment of Steel Framed Homes to learn more.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Prepainted Sheet Steel: Taking on Canada’s Climate for Decades

Prefinished sheet steel for construction consists of four major components: the sheet steel itself, a metallic (zinc or aluminum-zinc alloy) coating, chemical pre-treatment and primer, and a top coat. Each performs an important role in providing designers with a high quality, aesthetic, cost- competitive and corrosion-resistant material. 

The backbone of the system is sheet steel, an ideal material for covering large surface areas because of its economy and high strength-to-weight ratio.

Protection against the demanding Canadian environment is provided by the metallic coating, one of the most effective methods of protecting bare steel from corrosion. Both zinc and aluminum-zinc alloy provide a tough, non-porous coating.

Besides acting as a protective barrier, zinc is able to “sacrifice” itself to protect the underlying sheet steel if both metals are exposed, for example at a cut edge. Sacrificial protection occurs when two dissimilar metals are in electrical contact and are coupled with water and oxygen. Under most conditions, zinc can protect gaps of bare steel or edges up to 2 mm (1/16 inch) in width.

The aluminum-zinc alloy coating also provides both sacrificial and barrier type protection to the base steel.

Zinc and aluminum-zinc alloy coated sheet steel is, of course, a viable construction material by itself. For maximum corrosion protection, however, a primer and top coat must be added to provide both colour and a highly effective barrier to the atmosphere. The primer and top coat inhibit water and oxygen from reaching the underlying metallic coated sheet steel, thus effectively arresting the corrosion process.
This, then, is prefinished sheet steel.

Prefinished sheet steel is a Canadian development, one that can back up all its claims and prove that it performs successfully in Canada’s many different environments. 

Download Fact Sheet 2 to learn more about prefinished sheet steel and paint systems.


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Sustainability for the Future - Design for Deconstruction

The Canadian Standards Association has recently published CSA Z783-12 Deconstruction of Buildings and Their Related Parts. Included in this standard are the minimum requirements for processes and procedures connected with the deconstruction of buildings. It is intended for use by contractors, consultants, designers, building owners, regulators and value chain organizations involved in the deconstruction of a building that is at the end of its life or when it is undergoing renovations or alternations.

In the introduction to the section on design it states “To simplify the deconstruction process, it is possible to incorporate features during the design and construction phase. CSA Z782 is a voluntary guidance document that provides a framework for reducing building construction waste during the design phase.” Of primary interest under section C, Building envelope, is C.5.5.3 note 1 identifying Steel Building Systems (SBS) as being ideally suited for deconstruction and reuse.

Deconstruction and reuse are not uncommon and have been conducted with various levels of success for decades. Certain features make SBS particularly suitable. Connections are bolted instead of field welded, the parts can
stand up to being re-handled without damage, panels that are not caulked can be reused, and big spans mean easy adaptation for other uses. A reusable building adds value to the owner and improved return on the investment.

The responsibilities of the parties involved are well defined in Section 6, Project management and oversight, of CSA Z783-12. The primary roles are conducted by the owner (or owner’s representative), and the contractor.

In the introduction to the section on deconstruction, the reuse of the building should be considered as the first option. For new construction SBS is an excellent choice. Not only have SBS buildings been recognized as being ideally suited for deconstruction, with proper insight and guidance at the front end, SBS can make the process more seamless and transparent.

Click on our Fact Sheet 40: Design for Deconstruction of a Steel Building System below for a checklist of items to consider when you are designing for deconstruction.