A-5 Environmental Separation. The requirements provided in Part 5 pertain to the separation of environmentally dissimilar spaces. Most obvious is the need to separate indoor conditioned spaces from unconditioned spaces, the outdoors or the ground. There are also cases where separation is needed between interior spaces which are intended to provide different environments. (See also Appendix Notes A-18.104.22.168.(1) and A-22.214.171.124.(1).)
A-126.96.36.199.(1) Scope. Prior to the adoption of By-law 7931 in September 1998, Part 5 applied to all buildings except those within the scope of Part 9 or within the scope of the National Farm Building Code of Canada. With the adoption of By-law 7931, the scope was expanded to include some residential building types which were previously only covered under the provisions of Part 9. These buildings were deemed to be large enough in scale and would likely have high enough exposures as to have similar environmental separation concerns as those otherwise covered in Part 5. The new inclusions are for Group C multi-family dwellings (residential occupancies with more than two dwelling units) and artist live/work studios more than two storeys in building height or more than 600 m2 in building area regardless of firewalls. [See Sentence 188.8.131.52.(3) of Division A]
A-184.108.40.206. Maritime Climate. The effects of Vancouver's maritime climate are well documented. The City's prolonged stretches of near continuous rainfall, combined with driving winds produce extended periods of wetting of building exteriors. This extended wetting combined with very mild year round temperatures means that there are limited periods in which the drying of an envelope assembly might occur. These factors create an environment where the possibility of moisture induced deterioration of materials is very high. The choice of appropriate materials and assemblies for building envelopes is therefore extremely important in Vancouver.
Consistent application of basic water management principles; deflection, drainage, drying and durability of materials throughout the design and construction process, is critical for a successful building envelope assembly in Vancouver's climate. Although excess moisture in an envelope assembly can come from construction sources, exterior sources such as rainwater, or interior humidity sources, it has been shown that most performance problems in Vancouver have resulted from a failure to control exterior sources. In Vancouver, the first consideration in envelope design should be the deflection of incident rain with elements such as roof overhangs and the use of flashings with drip edges to direct water away from a building face. The ability to effectively drain water, which does penetrate through the cladding, should be the next consideration for successful envelope assemblies. Since many materials used in the construction of building envelope assemblies are susceptible to deterioration or decay if they remain wet, the ability of the assembly to allow for drying should be considered in the design. However, as the potential for drying in this climate is relatively limited, it should not be relied upon as the primary mechanism, and it should be ensured that materials placed in an exterior envelope assembly do not contain excess moisture before the assembly is enclosed. Lastly, where the probability exists that materials may be exposed to moisture sources, it is critical to choose materials which are durable enough to withstand the moisture until it is dissipated.
Selection and specification of performance criteria for components such as windows should ensure that the components are also capable of meeting the overall envelope performance requirements. In addition, the integration of components into the overall envelope assembly should be carefully considered in the drafting of design documents and through out the construction process, particularly at the interfaces between components such as windows and the adjacent wall system. All envelope details should be clearly shown in the construction documents, using a progressive series of three dimensional details where correct layering and overlapping of materials needs to be clarified. For critical building envelope assembly details or new and unique assemblies, full-scale mock-ups and testing on site are extremely valuable in confirming the performance of an assembly and in establishing construction standards for the balance of the envelope construction.
The requirements in Part 5 outline a performance standard for the building envelopes, but good design practice should go beyond the requirements in these regulations. Issues such as the quality of detailing, the compatibility of materials used in assemblies, and a design that allows for the simplicity of on-going maintenance are concerns that a professional designer should take into account in the design of a successful building envelope assembly.
Guidance with respect to building science principles and envelope assembly performance for maritime climates is available from a variety of sources. The Canadian Building Digest series and many other publications from the National Research Council (NRC) and in particular from the Institute for Research in Construction (IRC) are valuable resources. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has also published a wide variety of documents which are useful in understanding building science principles and the application of these principles to residential design and construction. Locally, courses in building envelope basics, offered as the educational component towards a Building Envelope Professional accreditation, are administered by the Architectural Institute of BC. Regular seminars on building envelope issues are also offered on an industry wide basis by the BC Building Envelope Council.
A-220.127.116.11.(1) Application. Subsection 1.3.3. of Division A specifies that Part 5 applies to all buildings except those within the scope of Part 9 or the scope of the National Farm Building Code of Canada. Because of their intended use, many buildings need only provide a limited degree of separation from the outdoor environment, the ground, or between interior spaces. The provisions in Part 5 are written to allow exemptions for these buildings.
Part 5 applies to building elements that separate dissimilar environments and to site conditions that may affect environmental loading on the building envelope.
The provisions address
Part 5 applies not only to building elements that separate indoor space from outdoor space, but also to those elements that separate indoor space from the ground and that separate adjacent indoor spaces having significantly different environments.
Indoor spaces that require separation include interior conditioned spaces adjacent to indoor unconditioned spaces, and adjacent interior conditioned spaces that are intended to provide different environments. An extreme example of the last would be a wall that separates an indoor ice rink from a swimming pool.
Some building elements are exposed to exterior environmental loads but do not separate dissimilar environments. Solid guards on exterior walkways are one example. Such constructions are subject to the application of Part 5.
A-18.104.22.168.(2) Exemptions. This sentence is intended to allow for the exemption of the application of Part 5 to buildings or parts of buildings where it can be shown that due to the intended use of a building, the full provisions of Part 5 are not necessary. As an example, buildings such as open parking garages, stadia, and certain park buildings intended for summer use would only require a limited degree of separation from the exterior environment. Any proposed exemptions should be discussed with the City of Vancouver prior to implementation.
A-22.214.171.124.(1) Building Envelope Professional Reviews Scope of Application and Letters of Commitment and Completion. The specific areas of focus for which a Building Envelope Professional is required to perform reviews are Sections 5.4., 5.5. and 5.6. The duties are described as Building Envelope Professional design review and enhanced field review. The design review is required to be completed by a Building Envelope Professional. This review is intended to ascertain that the design for which they will be giving a commitment of responsibility for review in the field substantially complies with Part 5 with respect to Sections 5.4., 5.5. and 5.6. The term enhanced field review is used to differentiate the level of review for which a Building Envelope Professional is responsible, from that which a registered professional signing for architectural items in Schedules B-1 and B-2 would be responsible. The requirements in Part 5 outline a minimum performance standard, but these requirements can not address the specific detail concerns which experience has shown are the primary source of problems which have resulted in the deterioration of building envelopes. Building Envelope Professional enhanced field review is intended to address this concern. It requires that the professional performs field reviews at a sufficient frequency and reviews a substantial number of the details, which could be potential problem sources, in order to ascertain that the performance requirements of Part 5 are satisfied. While a professional may not be able to see all of the details, the level of duty intended for this enhanced field review is to review as many details as possible rather than just a representative sampling.
An additional duty of the Building Envelope Professional involves the review of moisture content present in envelope assemblies prior to enclosure. Exterior walls, in buildings of structural light framing systems, should not be enclosed when there is sufficient moisture present to initiate deterioration. While wood may have been delivered to a construction site kiln dried, exposure to rain during construction may raise the moisture content to an unacceptable level (above 19%). Water may also have collected in elements of wall assemblies, such as steel stud tracks, and may lead to deterioration if not dried out prior to the wall assembly being enclosed.
The Building Envelope Professional is required to assure that all wood framing, structural members, and sheathing do not exceed 19 per cent moisture content, and all other materials are dry, prior to the wall assembly being enclosed.
The Articles in Section 5.4 do not define the air tightness limits of a completed assembly, but only that of the components in an assembly. Therefore, it is a critical responsibility of the Building Envelope Professional to conduct sufficient design and field review work in order to be able to ascertain that the continuity of the air barrier system meets the performance requirements of this Part.
The Building Envelope Professional is required to perform sufficient design and field review work to ascertain that the installed vapour barrier system meets the performance requirements of Part 5. The Building Envelope Professional is required to confirm adequate completeness of the system in order to ensure that vapour diffusion is retarded at an appropriate wall location and that all inappropriate barriers to diffusion are eliminated.
Preventing inappropriate barriers to diffusion requires careful attention to detail. While it is often unintended, envelope assemblies may end up with more than one functional vapour barrier. As it can never be ensured that an exterior envelope assembly will always be free of moisture, the drying mechanism must not be blocked, or the trapped moisture may lead to deterioration of moisture sensitive materials. Drying potential in the system requires that vapour, driven by a vapour pressure differential (i.e. from high interior vapour pressure to low exterior vapour pressure) be allowed to pass to a location in the assembly which is open to exterior air (such as a cavity) where drying may occur. Plywood sheathing for instance has sufficiently low permeance that care must be taken in the design of an assembly to ensure that vapour is allowed to pass the sheathing if it is not intended to act as a vapour barrier. Caution may also be needed with the over use of impermeable sheet membrane materials at details such as windows. If the application is too extensive, the potential for moisture diffusion out of the assembly may be locally impeded, with a resultant increase in the likelihood of deterioration.
The Building Envelope Professional is required to perform sufficient design and field review work to ascertain that the installed exterior cladding system meets the performance requirements of Part 5. The Building Envelope Professional is required to confirm that the cladding system will provide continuous precipitation protection, the drainage paths are complete and the flashings as installed over the complete exterior envelope will function properly.
Where the cladding is a pressure equalized rainscreen application of an Exterior Insulation Finish System (EIFS) as outlined in A-126.96.36.199.(3), the design review and enhanced field review is required to be undertaken by a Building Envelope Professional who has specialized training and experience with EIFS.
A-188.8.131.52. Application of Structural Design to Other Building Elements. Part 4, as currently written, applies primarily to buildings as a whole and to structural members. Requirements defining structural loads and design to accommodate or resist those loads, however, apply not only to buildings as a whole and components that are traditionally recognized as structural members, but also apply to other elements of the building that are subject to structural loading. This is addressed to some extent in Part 4 by the requirements that pertain, for example, to wind loads on cladding. A range of structural loads and effects, as defined in Subsection 4.1.2., may be imposed on non-loadbearing elements such as backing walls, roofing, interior partitions and their connections. These must generally be addressed using the same load determination and structural design procedures as used for structural members.
Responsibility for the structural design of buildings as a whole and their structural members is commonly assigned to the engineer of record. The application of Part 4 reflects this, and as such, “non-structural” elements are not explicitly identified in the Part 4 provisions. Rather the application of Part 4 to these elements is specified in cross-references from other Parts of the By-law, e.g. Part 5, which recognizes the fact that the structural design of these elements is often carried out by engineers other than the engineer of record.
Responsibility for the structural design of buildings as a whole and their structural members is commonly assigned to the engineer of record. The application of Part 4 reflects this, and as such, “non-structural” elements are not explicitly identified in the Part 4 provisions. Rather the application of Part 4 to these elements is specified in cross-references from other Parts of the Code, e.g. Part 5, which recognizes the fact that the structural design of these elements is often carried out by engineers other than the engineer of record.
Part 4 does not generally apply to the structural design of building services, such as heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, plumbing, electrical, electronic or fire safety systems, though these may be subject to structural loads. It does, however, apply to the design of the connections of building services to address earthquake loads (see Article 184.108.40.206.).
A-220.127.116.11.(4) Past Performance as Basis for Compliance with Respect to Structural Loads. As discussed in Appendix Note 18.104.22.168., a range of structural loads and effects can be imposed on materials, components and assemblies in environmental separators and assemblies exposed to the exterior. In many instances, compliance with Sentence 22.214.171.124.(1) for structural loads must be determined based on the loads and calculation methods described in Part 4 as specified in Sentence 126.96.36.199.(2) and the referenced Subsection 5.2.2., e.g. for cladding. In practice, compliance for some materials, components or assemblies of environmental separators and assemblies exposed to the exterior is determined by relying on provisions governing the use of alternative solutions (such as Clause 188.8.131.52.(1)(b) of Division A and formerly Section 2.5. in the 1999 edition of the VBBL).
For some very common building elements and installations, however, there is a very large body of evidence of proven performance over a long period of time. In these cases, imposing the degree of analysis, or documentation of performance, required by Part 4 or Section 2.3. of Division C would be unnecessary and onerous. Clause 184.108.40.206.(4)(b) is intended to address these particular cases. Because the constructions are so widely accepted throughout the industry and the body of evidence is so substantial (though not necessarily documented in an organized fashion), there should be no question that detailed analysis or documentation is unnecessary.
Whether compliance of a particular material, component or assembly may be determined based on past performance depends not only on the type of material, component or assembly, but also on its intended function, the particular loads to which it will be subject and the magnitude of those loads. Because the possible combinations and permutations are infinite, only guidelines can be provided as to when past performance is a reasonable basis for determining compliance.
In determining compliance based on past performance, the period of past performance considered should be a substantial number of years. For example, 30 years is often used to do life-cycle cost analysis of the viability of investments in building improvements. This period is more than long enough for most deficiencies to show up. There should be no question as to the structural adequacy of a material, component or assembly that has been successfully used in a given application for such a period.
The determination of compliance may be based on past performance only where the function of the material, component or assembly is identical to that of the materials, components or assemblies used as a reference, and where the expected loads do not exceed those imposed on the reference materials, components or assemblies. For example, the acceptance of gypsum board, and its fastening, to serve as part of the backing wall supporting cladding cannot be based on the performance of gypsum board that has served only as an interior finish.
The determination of compliance may be based on past performance only where the properties of the material, component or assembly are identical or superior to those of the materials, components or assemblies used as a reference. For example, where a component of a certain gauge of a particular metal has provided acceptable performance, the same component made of the same metal or a stronger one would be acceptable.
Compliance with respect to various loads may be determined individually. A particular material may have to be designed to Part 4 to establish acceptable resistance to wind or earthquake loads, for example, but past performance may be adequate to determine that the material and normal fastening will support the material's dead load and will resist loads imposed by thermal and moisture-related expansion and contraction.
Past performance is a reasonable basis for determining compliance for lighter materials, components or assemblies not subject to wind load; for example, semi-rigid thermal insulation installed in wall assemblies where other materials, components or assemblies are installed to resist air pressure loads.
Past performance is an appropriate basis for determining compliance for some smaller elements that will be subject to wind loads but are continually supported or fastened behind elements that are designed for wind loads, for example, standard flashing over wall penetrations.
It should be noted that this particular approach to demonstrating compliance pertains only to the resistance or accommodation of structural loads described in Part 4. The resistance or accommodation of environmental loads, resistance to deterioration, and material compatibility must still be addressed in accordance with Part 5.
A-220.127.116.11.(5)(b) and (c) Deflection. It is well understood that the deflection of the backing assembly in a wall can have significant effects on the performance of the cladding. For example, Clauses 9.14.3 and 10.14.3 of CSA S304.1, “Design of Masonry Structures,” specifies the maximum deflection criteria for backing assemblies to masonry veneer. Clauses 18.104.22.168.(5)(b) and (c) are written in very general terms in recognition of the fact that not only can the deflection of cladding affect the performance of the backing assembly, but that the excessive deflection of any element has the potential to adversely affect the performance of any adjacent element. Such effects must be avoided or accommodated.
A-22.214.171.124. Deterioration. Environmental loads that must be considered include but are not limited to: sound, light and other types of radiation, temperature, moisture, air pressure, acids and alkalis.
Mechanisms of deterioration include:
Information on the effects of deformations in building elements can be found in the Commentary entitled Effects of Deformations in Building Components in the User's Guide – NBC 2005, Structural Commentaries (Part 4 of Division B).
Resistance to deterioration may be determined based on field performance, accelerated testing or compliance with guidelines provided by evaluation agencies recognized by the Chief Building Official.
Building components must be designed with some understanding of the length of time over which they will effectively perform their intended function. Actual service life will depend on the materials used and the environment to which they are exposed. The design should take into consideration these factors, the particular function of the component and the implications of premature failure, the ease of access for maintenance, repair or replacement, and the cost of repair or replacement.
Many buildings are designed such that access for maintenance, repair or replacement is not possible without damaging — or seriously risking damaging — other building elements. This can become a considerable deterrent to proper maintenance thus compromising the performance of the subject materials, components and assemblies, or other elements of the building. In cases where it is known or expected that maintenance, repair or replacement is likely to be required for certain elements before such time as the building undergoes a major retrofit, special consideration should be given to providing easy access to those elements.
Where the use of a building or space, or the services for a building or space, are changed significantly, an assessment of the impact of the changes on the environmental separators should be conducted to preclude premature failures that could create hazardous conditions.
A-126.96.36.199.(3) Soil Temperatures. In theory, soil temperatures are needed to determine the conformance of a design to the requirements related to heat transfer and vapour diffusion. In practice, standard construction in a particular area may have proven to perform quite adequately and detailed calculations of soil temperature are unnecessary. (See also Sentence 188.8.131.52.(2).)
A-184.108.40.206.(1) Interior Environmental Loads. The interior environmental conditions required depend on the intended use of the spaces in the building as defined in the building program. Spaces in different types of buildings and different spaces within a single building may impose different loads on the separators between interior and exterior spaces and between adjacent interior spaces. The separators must be designed to withstand the expected loads.
A-220.127.116.11. Resistance to Wind and Other Air Pressure Loads. The wind load provisions apply to roofing and other materials subject to wind-uplift loads.
Note that, although Article 18.104.22.168. is specifically concerned with wind loads and directly references only two Sentences from Part 4, Sentence 22.214.171.124.(1) references all of Part 4 and would invoke Article 126.96.36.199. for example, which is concerned with air pressure loads on interior walls and partitions.
A-5.3. Heat Transfer. In addressing issues related to health and safety, Section 5.3. calls up levels of thermal resistance needed to minimize condensation on or within environmental separators, and to ensure thermal conditions appropriate for the building use. Energy regulations, including Subsection 2.2.5 of Division C or Section 9.25 where they exist, specify levels of thermal resistance required for energy efficiency or call up energy performance levels, which relate to levels of thermal resistance. Where Part 5 calls for levels of thermal resistance higher than those required by the energy regulations, the requirements of Part 5 take precedence.
A-188.8.131.52. Required Resistance to Heat Transfer. The control of heat flow is required wherever there is an intended temperature difference across the building assembly. The use of the term “intended” is important since, whenever interior space is separated from exterior space, temperature differences will occur.
The interior of an unheated warehouse, for example, will often be at a different temperature from the exterior due to solar radiation, radiation from the building to the night sky and the time lag in temperature change due to the thermal mass of the building and its contents. If this temperature difference is not “intended,” no special consideration need be given to the control of heat flow.
If the warehouse is heated or cooled, thus making the temperature difference “intended,” some consideration would have to be given to the control of heat flow.
It should be noted, however, that in many cases, such as with adjacent interior spaces, there will be an intended temperature difference but the difference will not be great. In these cases, the provisions to control heat flow may be little or no more than would be provided by any standard interior separator. That is, materials typically used in the construction of partitions may provide the separation needed to meet the requirements of Section 5.3. without adding what are generally considered to be “insulating” materials.
A-184.108.40.206. Material and Component Properties and Condensation. Total prevention of condensation is generally unnecessary and its achievement is rarely a certainty at design conditions. Part 5, therefore, requires that condensation be minimized. The occurrence of condensation should be sufficiently rare, or the quantities accumulated should be sufficiently small and dry rapidly enough, to avoid material deterioration and the growth of mould and fungi.
A-220.127.116.11.(1) Use of Thermal Insulation or Mechanical Systems for Environmental Control. The level of thermal resistance required to avoid condensation on the warm side of an assembly or within an assembly (at the vapour barrier), and to permit the maintenance of indoor conditions appropriate for the occupancy depends on
To control condensation on the interior surface of an exterior wall, for example, the interior surface must not fall below the dew point of the interior air. If, for instance, the interior air is 20°C and 35% RH, the dew point will be 4°C. If the interior air is 20°C and 55% RH, the dew point will be 6°C.
Where the exterior design temperature is mild, such as in south coastal British Columbia, the interior RH during the heating season may well be around 55%. With an exterior temperature of -7°C, the materials in the environmental separator would have to provide a mere RSI 0.082 to avoid condensation on the interior surface. Depending on the specific properties of the material, this RSI might be provided by 10-mm plywood. Therefore, materials generally recognized as thermal insulation would not be required only to limit condensation on the warmer side of the building envelope.
In other areas of the province, the exterior design temperatures are much lower. In these cases, maintaining temperatures inboard of the vapour barrier above the dew point will require insulation or increased heat delivery to the environmental separator. Direct delivery of heat over the entire surface of the environmental separator is generally impractical. Indirect heat delivery may not be possible without raising the interior air temperatures above the comfort level. In any case, increased heat delivery would often entail excessive energy costs.
In addition to controlling condensation, interior surface temperatures must be warm enough to avoid occupant discomfort due to excessive heat loss by radiation. Depending on the occupancy of the subject spaces, this may require the installation of insulation even where it is not needed to control condensation.
A-18.104.22.168.(3) Heat Transfer through Fire-Rated Glazed Assemblies. Thermal bridging through fire-rated glazed assemblies should not be ignored; measures should be taken to minimize condensation consistent with the intent of Sentence 22.214.171.124.(2).
A-126.96.36.199.(2) Position of Materials Providing Thermal Resistance. For a material providing thermal resistance to be effective, it must not be short-circuited by convective airflow through or around the material. The material must therefore be either
A-188.8.131.52. Resistance to Air Leakage. An air barrier system in above-grade building components and assemblies separating conditioned space from the exterior will reduce the likelihood of condensation due to air leakage, discomfort from drafts, the infiltration of dust and other pollutants, and interference in the performance of building services, such as HVAC and plumbing. These problems can all lead to serious health or safety hazards.
Currently, the most obvious and significant problems are due to moisture-related material deterioration, such as rot and corrosion, which can lead to the failure of component connections. The infiltration of dust and other pollutants can lead to a wide range of health problems. Where the separator is subject to high moisture levels, the pollutants may include fungus spores. Interference with the performance of building services can lead to unhealthy conditions and potentially hazardous conditions during the heating season in many regions of the country.
There are few buildings intended for human occupancy where the interior space is conditioned but where an air barrier system is not required. Some industrial buildings, for example, may be exempt. This would depend, however, on the particular levels of interior conditioning provided, ventilation levels, protection provided for the workers, and the tolerance of the building’s construction to the accumulation of condensation and potential precipitation ingress.
Some industrial buildings are provided with only limited conditioning, for example radiant heating, and ventilation levels are sufficient to reduce relative humidity to a level at which condensation will not accumulate to a degree that is problematic. Conversely, some industrial buildings, due to the processes they contain, operate at very high temperatures and high ventilation levels. In these cases, the building envelope will be maintained at temperatures that will avoid condensation. In both examples above, either the ventilation rates or protective gear required in the work environment would protect the occupants from unacceptable levels of pollutants.
Where adjacent interior environments are sufficiently different, controlling airflow between those spaces is necessary to maintain conditions. Referring again to the industrial building examples above, assemblies separating office space from the work floor would likely require an air barrier system.
An air barrier system may be required in components and assemblies in contact with the ground to control the transfer of soil gases such as radon and methane.
The word “minimize” is used in Sentence 184.108.40.206.(1) because not all moisture accumulation in an assembly need be of concern. Incidental condensation is normal but should be sufficiently rare and in sufficiently limited quantities, and should dry rapidly enough, to avoid material deterioration and the growth of mould or fungi.
A-220.127.116.11.(1) [ . . . ] Air Leakage through the Air Barrier System.
The current requirements specify only a maximum air leakage rate for the material in the air barrier system that provides the principal resistance to air leakage.
The report, “Air Permeance of Building Materials,” prepared by AIR-INS Inc. for CMHC (1988) identifies, from 36 common building materials, 19 that would comply with the leakage limit of 0.02 L/(s • m 2) at 75 Pa. [ . . . ]
Ideally, a maximum air leakage rate for the complete air barrier system would be specified. The maximum acceptable rate will ultimately depend on warm and cold side temperatures and humidity conditions, and on the susceptibility of the environmental separator to moisture-related deterioration. Recommended maximum leakage rates for the air barrier system in an exterior envelope in most locations in Canada are shown in Table A-18.104.22.168.(1) and (2). These values are for air barrier systems in opaque, insulated portions of the building envelope. They are not for whole buildings, as windows, doors and other openings are not included. The Table is provided for guidance when testing air barrier systems as portions of an envelope.
| Table A-22.214.171.124.(1) and (2)
Recommended Maximum Air Leakage Rates
|Warm Side Relative Humidity at 21°C||Recommended Maximum System Air Leakage Rate, L/(s•m2) at 75 Pa|
|27 to 55%||0.10|
Determining the leakage rate of a particular assembly, however, is problematic. There is little information available on the airtightness of the many air barrier systems used in building construction, and testing requires specialized equipment and expertise. Depending on the type of test,
Despite the difficulties, when using a system whose performance is not known, it is recommended that tests be conducted. Testing options include:
A-126.96.36.199. Required Resistance to Vapour Diffusion. Resistance to vapour diffusion is required to reduce the likelihood of condensation within building assemblies, and the consequent potential for material deterioration and fungal growth. Deterioration such as rot and corrosion can lead to the failure of building components and connections, and interfere with the performance of building services. Some fungi can have very serious effects on health.
In Canada, relatively few buildings that are subject to temperature and vapour pressure differences would be constructed or operated in such a manner that the control of vapour diffusion would not need to be addressed in their design. Assemblies enclosing certain industrial spaces, as described in Appendix Note . for example, may be exempt.
For residential spaces, and most other spaces that are conditioned for human occupancy, a means of vapour diffusion control is generally agreed to be necessary, even in the milder climates of the country. The questions in those cases pertain to the degree of control needed.
The word “minimize” is used in Sentence 188.8.131.52.(1) because not all moisture accumulation in an assembly need be of concern. Incidental condensation is normal but should be sufficiently rare and in sufficiently limited quantities, and should dry rapidly enough, to avoid material deterioration and the growth of mould or fungi. Here are some references regarding the effects of fungi on health:
A-184.108.40.206.(1) Vapour Barrier Materials and Installation. In the summer, [ . . . ] buildings may be subject to conditions where the interior temperature is lower than the exterior temperature. Vapour transfer during these periods is from the exterior to the interior. In general, in Vancouver, the duration of these periods is sufficiently short, the driving forces are sufficiently low, and assemblies are required to be constructed such that any accumulated moisture can drain before deterioration will occur.
Buildings such as freezer plants, however, may operate for much of the year at temperatures that are below the ambient exterior temperature. In these cases, the "warm" side of the assembly would be the exterior and a detailed analysis on an annual basis is required.
Steady state heat transfer and vapour diffusion calculations may be used to determine acceptable permeance levels for the vapour barrier and to identify appropriate positions for the vapour barrier within the building assembly.
A-220.127.116.11. Required Protection from Precipitation. Windows, cast-in-place concrete walls, and metal and glass curtain wall systems are examples of components and assemblies that, when properly designed and constructed, are expected to prevent the ingress of precipitation into a building. Assemblies such as roofs and veneer walls consist of materials specifically intended to screen precipitation.
Components and assemblies separating interior conditioned space from the exterior are generally required to provide protection from the ingress of precipitation. Components and assemblies separating interior unconditioned space from the exterior may or may not be required to provide protection from the ingress of precipitation. Buildings such as stadia, parking garages and some seasonally occupied buildings, for example, may not require complete protection from the ingress of precipitation. The degree of protection will depend to a large extent on the materials selected for the building elements that will be exposed to precipitation.
The word “minimize” is used in Sentence 18.104.22.168.(1) because not all moisture ingress or accumulation in an assembly need be of concern. The penetration of wind-driven rain past the cladding may not affect the long-term performance of the assembly, provided the moisture dries out or is drained away before it initiates any deterioration of building materials. When the design service life of a material or component is longer than the design service life of the overall assembly, taking into account the expected exposure to moisture, initiating deterioration of the material should not be of concern. That is to say, provided the material or component continues to provide the necessary level of performance for its intended service life and does not adversely affect the service life of the assembly of which it is a part, the deterioration of the material or component is not an issue.
A-22.214.171.124.(3) [ . . . ]. Water leakage through sloped roofs is often due to the formation of ice dams at the eaves, which can be limited by controlling the transfer of heat to the roof through a combination of insulation and venting to dissipate heat. See Clause 126.96.36.199.(1)(d).
Draining Moisture with Protective Materials
This City of Vancouver Building By-law differs from the provincial and national codes in its approach to the requirements for handling of precipitation. Experience has shown that it is virtually impossible to make face sealed walls work in the Vancouver climate, in anything beyond a very low exposure condition. The intent of Section 5.6. is to illustrate to the designer that a rainscreen design is the minimum acceptable option for vertical exterior envelope assemblies in Part 5 buildings. Where there is a slope in any element of the envelope, it should be considered a roof and treated accordingly.
Where the system is a mass wall construction type, and does not include a cladding, all joints between panels (and junctions to other elements such as windows) are required to be two-stage or rainscreen joints with an appropriate means to drain any accumulated moisture to the exterior.
Exterior Cladding over Structural Light Framing
Exterior cladding shall be installed over a cavity with all the necessary through wall flashings designed to drain accumulated moisture to the exterior, where the wall system incorporates exterior cladding over structural light wood or steel framing systems,. This cavity, a water shedding plane on the interior side of the cavity and a complete air barrier system to achieve pressure moderation, constitute the primary elements of a required rainscreen design. Compartmentalization of the cavity, in particular at corners, is required to achieve effective pressure moderation. Where the cladding material is stiffer than the supporting light frame structure, such as in a stucco application, the compartmentalization should include though wall flashing at each floor. The design of the cavity should minimize the potential for water to bridge across this gap and maximize the free air space.
While there is agreement on the need for a cavity, current research is not conclusive on the optimal width of a cavity to maximize drying potential, however a conservative approach would suggest that the widest allowable cavity would be prudent in this environment, where drying is an issue. As other Sections of this By-law limit a cavity in a wall to 25 mm before requiring fire stopping, a 19 mm (3/4") cavity is the minimum width recommended which will satisfy this requirement, while still maximizing the drying potential for an assembly with insulation in the stud space. [See Clause 188.8.131.52.(2)(d)]
Where the envelope system employs a full membrane application on the outside of the sheathing and where all of the insulation is installed outboard, then the width of the cavity may be reduced, since the drying potential is not as critical in this configuration. Research has shown that a 10 mm gap is sufficient to prevent liquid water from bridging across a cavity. Therefore, a cavity width of 12 mm (1/2") is the minimum recommended for this configuration, provided that the application of the cladding and the insulation is constructed so that the Building Envelope Professional can assure that this 12 mm (1/2") gap can be maintained.
Exterior columns, beams, walkways, guardrails, or other elements, which do not form a direct continuation of the building enclosure, may not be required to be constructed as rainscreen assemblies. For this approach to be acceptable, these elements must be totally constructed with pressure treated lumber and sheathing (field treated at cuts and boltholes) or other durable materials, with corrosion resistant fasteners and be provided with proper ventilation.
Exterior Insulation Finish Systems over Light Structural Steel Framing
Subject to specific limitations, the required cavities in Exterior Insulation Finish Systems may be reduced in dimension provided they form part of a pressure equalized rainscreen system. This approach would not be acceptable where the application is over wood framing.
As there are no standards for EIFS listed in Section 5.6.1., specific reviews would be required to qualify for this approach. Material systems are required to conform to the CCMC Technical Guide for "Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) Class PB Masterformat Section 07240" and a listing at CCMC is required to be obtained. Pressure equalization is required to be demonstrated by testing as defined by the Institute for Research in Construction, Construction Technology Update No.17; "Pressure Equalization in Rainscreen Wall Systems," July 1998.
Design review and enhanced field review is required to be conducted by a Building Envelope Professional who has specialized training and experience with EIFS. The professional is required to review the project specific design, and confirm that the whole system including the required thermal expansion/contraction joints, joints around doors or windows, or any other penetrations of the finish will allow for drainage back to the exterior, without reliance on surface sealing. The professional is also responsible for reviewing the pressure equalization system including compartmentalization, vent location and sizing and confirm the required stiffness of the substrate using calculations based on the manufacturer's data.
The quality provisions of the CCMC Technical Guide for "Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) Class PB Masterformat Section 07240", Section 7.0 "Quality Assurance Program" must be adhered to. Buildings are required to be designed incorporating devices such as davit bases or other design elements, so that any required maintenance could be provided without causing undue damage to the EIFS. [See Article 184.108.40.206.]
A-220.127.116.11.(4) Flashings, Drips or Overhangs. As the first principle for water management in a building envelope is deflection, the appropriate use of flashings, drips or overhangs is a critical part of any precipitation protection system. The 1996 CMHC survey of envelope failures in B.C. found a striking inverse relationship between the length of overhang, and the percentage of walls which experienced water induced problems. Roof overhangs perform a more complex function than that as a simple 'umbrella' shielding the wall below. Studies have shown that a large proportion of the precipitation incident on any building face will be deposited on an overhang at the top of a wall due to wind movement and water deposition patterns. If the overhang includes a means to shed this water, a large portion of the precipitation can be deflected without it ever touching the rest of the building face. Proper detailing and lapping of flashings with other materials is also critical to prevent the ingress of precipitation where there are changes in planes of walls and roofs, changes in cladding material, or window or door heads and sills.
Information on the installation of flashing to drain water to the exterior of roof or wall assemblies may be found in a number of publications including, but not limited to:
A-18.104.22.168. Drainage. Experience has shown that maintaining a face sealed watertight exterior on a building in Vancouver's climate, which will meet the performance requirements of Part 5, is virtually impossible, in anything beyond a very low exposure condition. Therefore, the first strategy should always be to deflect or shed as much precipitation as possible from a building face. Secondly, since there is always the probability of some penetration by precipitation into a component or assembly, drainage is required to re-direct this moisture to the exterior. [See A-22.214.171.124.(3).]
A-126.96.36.199.(5) Overflow Outlets. Where a roof or balcony is entirely enclosed by parapet walls there is a likelihood of drains becoming obstructed with materials such as leaves falling during heavy autumn rains. It is recommended that a secondary means of drainage such as scuppers be provided. Overflow outlets should be installed in the parapet walls in sufficient number and at an appropriate height to drain the roof or balcony, to avoid water backing up into moisture sensitive assemblies, and to prevent structural collapse from ponding.
A-188.8.131.52.(1) Required Drainage. A wall or floor located below the water table or in the path of a watercourse will be subject to continuous hydrostatic pressure. In such cases, the provision of drainage will be ineffective and the wall or floor must be made waterproof to prevent water ingress.
Where a wall or floor is subject to intermittent hydrostatic pressure, as may result from seasonal flooding, proper drainage will facilitate the drying out of the soil. In some cases, reducing exposure to high moisture levels will extend the life of the moisture protection.
Where a wall or floor is not subject to hydrostatic pressure, drainage again reduces the exposure to high moisture levels and allows less than waterproof treatment of the wall or floor.
A-5.8.2. Moisture Protection. Moisture protection for building elements in contact with the ground is generally categorized as either waterproofing or dampproofing. Waterproofing provides a continuous protection against water ingress and is intended to resist hydrostatic load. Dampproofing, on the other hand, does not provide a seal against water ingress and cannot withstand hydrostatic pressure.
In general, Part 5 requires walls, floors and roofs in contact with the ground to be waterproofed. Properties of waterproofing are specified in Sentences 184.108.40.206.(2) to (5), and waterproofing material standards are referenced in Table 220.127.116.11. Materials intended to be used as dampproofing rather than waterproofing are generally not permitted [Sentence 18.104.22.168.(6)]. Standards for installing waterproofing are also specified [Sentence 22.214.171.124.(1)].
Part 5 does permit the use of dampproofing in lieu of waterproofing where the substrate is cast-in-place concrete, a drainage layer is installed and where the assembly will not be exposed to hydrostatic pressure. Material standards are referenced in Clause 126.96.36.199.(7)(b) and installation methods in Sentence 188.8.131.52.(2).
A-184.108.40.206. Required Moisture Protection. The control of the ingress of moisture from the ground into interior space is not related to the type of building, the use of the space, or whether or not the space is conditioned. This recognizes the potential adverse effects of high humidity levels, with or without standing water, on both the health of the building occupants and the durability of the building structure.
Although a subject interior space may not be occupied, the assembly separating this space from occupied space often cannot be relied upon to provide adequate protection for the building occupants. Depending on the construction of the separating assembly, it may also be subject to moisture-related deterioration.
The exceptions to this requirement stated in Sentence 220.127.116.11.(2) recognize only those cases where the subject interior space is not occupied and where the assembly separating this space from occupied space will provide the required protection and be resistant to a high humidity environment, or where the moisture loads are sufficiently limited as to not adversely affect the building or its occupants.
A-18.104.22.168.(7) Drainage Layers. Drainage layers reduce both structural and moisture loading on the building envelope by breaking capillary flow and allowing water to percolate quickly to the drainage system. A drainage layer may consist of permeable materials including granular backfill, geosynthetic drainage products or mineral fibreboard with oriented fibres to facilitate drainage. Where a granular material is used, it should be protected from contamination by fines from the adjacent native soil or additional material should be installed to ensure that an adequate thickness of the granular material remains free of fines.
A-5.9. Required Protection from Noise. Sentence 22.214.171.124.(1) applies to the separation of dwelling units from other dwelling units with regard to sound transmission irrespective of Clause 126.96.36.199.(1)(b), which deals with the separation of dissimilar environments. It is understood that, at any time, there is the potential for sound levels to be quite different in adjoining dwelling units.
A-188.8.131.52.(1) Sound Transmission. The Tables in Appendix Note A-184.108.40.206. provide information on the typical sound transmission class ratings of a number of building assemblies. In the absence of test information or results for a specific assembly of materials, the values given in Table A-220.127.116.11.A are considered to satisfy the intent of Sentence 18.104.22.168.(1).
A-22.214.171.124.(1) Selection of Materials and Components and Compliance with Referenced Standards. It is important to note that Sentence 126.96.36.199.(1) is stated in such a way that the selection of materials and components is not limited to those traditionally recognized as serving particular functions or those for which a standard is identified in Table 188.8.131.52. This approach permits more flexibility than is provided by similar requirements in Part 9. As long as the selected material meets the performance requirements stated elsewhere in Part 5, the material may be used to serve the required function.
However, where the selected material or component, or its installation, falls within the scope of any of the standards listed in Table 184.108.40.206., the material, component or installation must comply with that standard. For example, if some resistance to heat transfer is required between two interior spaces and standard partition construction will provide the necessary resistance, the installation of one of the “thermal insulation” materials identified in the standard list is not required. If, on the other hand, one decides to install glass fibre insulation, the material must conform to CAN/ULC-S702, “Mineral Fibre Thermal Insulation for Buildings.”
A-220.127.116.11.(3) Airtightness and Watertightness of Wired Glass Windows. Fixed wired glass assemblies are sometimes permitted as closures in vertical fire separations. The airtightness and watertightness requirements are waived for these windows when used in such an application, in recognition of the fact that the availability of assemblies that meet both the requirements of the window standards and the requirements for fire resistance may be limited. However, control of air and water leakage should not be ignored: measures should be taken to attempt to comply with applicable requirements.
A-Table 18.104.22.168. Airtightness of Windows. In order to select appropriate window ratings for air and water tightness and wind load resistance, designers should reference the user selection guide for CAN/CSA-A440. Designers need to assure that appropriately rated windows are installed in projects for which they are responsible. The following notes are included only as a guide to the ratings in CAN/CSA-A440, as the CSA ratings are approximations that assume typical conditions and do not take into account local variations.
The minimum air tightness level recommended by following the user selection guide for windows in buildings of any height in Vancouver is A2.
While the actual wind loading requirements may be calculated in conformance with Section 4.1.8., the minimum recommended wind load resistances for buildings in Vancouver using the simplified method in the user selection guide are:
Watertightness of Windows
In order to select appropriate window ratings for air and water tightness and wind load resistance, designers should reference the user selection guide for CAN/CSA-A440. Designers need to assure that appropriately rated windows are installed in projects for which they are responsible. The following notes are included only as a guide to the ratings in CAN/CSA-A440, as the CSA ratings are approximations that assume typical conditions and do not take into account local variations.
The minimum recommended water tightness level for buildings in Vancouver using the simplified method in the user selection guide are: