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BCC Ruling No. 14-01-1364

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Ruling No.: 14-01-1364
Application No.: B 2013-34

BUILDING CODE COMMISSION


IN THE MATTER OF
Subsection 24(1) of the Building Code Act, S.O. 1992, c. 23, as amended.

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 3.1.5.5.(1) of Division B, of Regulation 350/06, as amended, (the “Building Code”).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Vlad Sobot, for the resolution of a dispute with Arlene Grégoire, to determine whether the proposed construction of an exterior wall system, which contains combustible components, provides sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Sentence 3.1.5.5.(1) of Division B, of the Building Code, for a ten storey building, at 88, 98 and 108 Richmond Road, City of Ottawa, Ontario. 

APPLICANT

Vlad Sobot
President, Sobotec Ltd
City of Hamilton, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Arlene Grégoire
Chief Building Official
City of Ottawa, Ontario

PANEL

Tony Chow, Chair
Alison G. Orr
Mina Tesseris

PLACE

City of Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

January 23, 2014

DATE OF RULING

January 23, 2014

APPEARANCES

Paul Wagner
Associate, LRI - Leber | Rubes Inc.
City of Toronto, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Brent Taylor
Building Official III
City of Ottawa, Ontario
Designate for the Respondent

 

RULING

 

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has applied for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992, to construct a new mixed use and residential condominium building at 88, 98 and 108 Richmond Road, in the City of Ottawa, Ontario.
The subject building is approximately 3 300 m2 in building area and will be ten storeys in building height. This includes three, Group C residential occupancy towers, above a common, one storey street level podium of mixed use Group E retail and Group A, Division 2, amenity space and meeting room, occupancies. There is a three level Group F, Division 3, underground parking garage occupancy below. The subject building is to be of noncombustible construction and to include a sprinkler system, a standpipe and hose system and a fire alarm system.

The dispute involves the proposal to include a combustible cladding system in the construction of exterior non-loadbearing wall assemblies. Although Sentence 3.1.5.1.(1) of Division B, of the Building Code, states that a building, or part of a building, required to be of noncombustible construction, shall be constructed with noncombustible materials, subject to certain exemptions.
Sentence 3.1.5.5.(1) permits the use of combustible components in the construction of an exterior non-loadbearing wall assembly provided certain conditions are met. Specifically, Subclause 3.1.5.5.(1)(a)(ii), limits this exemption to sprinklered buildings that are not more than six storeys in building height. In this case, the issue concerns the subject building’s proposed ten storey building height and the building height limit in this Subclause.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

3.1.5.  Noncombustible Construction
3.1.5.1.  Noncombustible Materials

(1)  Except as permitted by Sentences (2) to (4) and Articles 3.1.5.2. to 3.1.5.25., 3.1.13.4. and 3.2.2.16., a building or part of a building required to be of noncombustible construction, shall be constructed with noncombustible materials.

3.1.5.5.  Combustible Components for Exterior Walls


(1)  Except for an exposing building face required to conform to Sentence 3.2.3.7.(1) or Sentence 3.2.3.7.(4), an exterior non-loadbearing wall assembly that includes combustible components is permitted to be used in a building required to be of noncombustible construction provided,

(a) the building is,

  • not more than 3 storeys in building height, or
  • not more than 6 storeys in building height if sprinklered,

(b) the interior surfaces of the wall assembly are protected by a thermal barrier conforming to Sentence 3.1.5.12.(3), and
(c) the wall assembly satisfies the criteria of Sentences (2) and (3) when subjected to testing in conformance with CAN/ULC-S134, “Fire Test of Exterior Wall Assemblies”.

(2)  Flaming on or in the wall assembly shall not spread more than 5 m above the opening during the test procedure referenced in Sentence (1). 
(3)  The heat flux during the flame exposure on a wall assembly shall be not more than 35 kW/m2 measured 3.5 m above the opening during the test procedure referenced in Sentence (1).
(5)  The requirements in this Article do not apply where foamed plastic insulation is used in an exterior wall assembly of a building and the insulation is protected in conformance with Sentences 3.2.3.8.(1) and (2).

3. Applicant’s Position

The Applicant’s Agent began by stating that the dispute is about the proposal to include a combustible exterior cladding system in the construction of exterior non-loadbearing wall assemblies for a ten storey building required to be sprinklered and of noncombustible construction. The Agent said that the Respondent has replied that she will not permit the use of this combustible exterior cladding system on a sprinklered building that is more than six storeys in building height.

The Agent believes the mitigating aspects of this proposal warrant that the building height limit in Subclause 3.1.5.5.(1)(a)(ii) of Division B, of the Building Code, be waived. The Agent explained that the interior surfaces of the wall assemblies will be protected by thermal barriers conforming to Sentence 3.1.5.12.(3). The Agent also explained that the subject exterior wall assembly have been tested in conformance with CAN/ULC-S134 standard for fire testing. The Agent added that the system has demonstrated its ability to exceed the minimum flame propagation and heat flux requirements referenced in Sentences 3.1.5.5.(2) and (3). The Agent argued that would provide more protection from fire growth and spread.

The Agent added that the application of this system is intended only for cladding intermittent portions on the exterior faces of this building. The Agent said the elevation drawings demonstrate that this is a limited use application of the cladding system and he explained why it would not contribute to fire growth and spread. The Agent also added that there are no unprotected openings in the cladding vertically aligned with exit stairs. The Agent argued that the amount of combustible material in this application of the system would be significantly less than a fully cladded building having the same building area and a building height of six storeys.

 The Agent also said that the 2010 version of the National Building Code of Canada includes a similar exemption for combustible components for exterior walls, except there is no limit to building height if sprinklered. The Agent explained that the 1990 version of the National Building Code of Canada did limit building height; however a change request in 1993 resulted in a revision in the 1996 version of that code which removed the building height limit in buildings that were sprinklered. The Agent also explained that the 2005 and 2010 versions of National Building Code include intent statements. The Agent said the intent statement for Sentence 3.1.5.1.(1) of Division B, of the National Building Code of Canada, 2010, is to exempt certain combustible materials on the basis that the material insignificantly contributes to fire growth and spread.

The Agent summarized their position by saying that the performance of the proposed exterior cladding system exceeds the minimum fire protection requirements of Sentences 3.1.5.5.(2) and (3) of Division B, of the Building Code. The Agent stated that this is a limited application of system that is intended only for cladding intermittent portions the exterior faces of the subject building. The Agent argued that the combustible load is significantly less than would be permitted for a six storey building fully clad with the combustible exterior cladding system. Finally, the Agent noted that the National Building Code of Canada, 2010 has the same technical provision for exterior cladding as the Building Code except the building height is not limited for buildings that are sprinklered. The Agent argued that the intent of this exemption is to permit the use of combustible materials on the basis that it can be shown that the materials insignificantly contribute to fire growth and spread.

4. Respondent’s Position

The Designate for the Respondent said the issue in dispute relates to the use of combustible materials in the construction of exterior wall assemblies for a building required to be of noncombustible construction. The Designate said Sentence 3.1.5.1.(1) of Division B, of the Building Code, states a building or part of a building required to be of noncombustible construction, shall be constructed with noncombustible materials. The Designate stated that the Building Code definition for noncombustible means that a material meets the acceptance criteria of CAN4-S114, “Standard Method of Test for Determination of Non-Combustibility in Building Materials”. The Designate added that Sentence 3.1.5.5.(1) provides some exemptions for using combustible materials in a building required to be of noncombustible construction.

The Designate explained that, in this case, the Applicant proposed an alternative solution for the purposes of demonstrating that the subject combustible cladding system achieves the level of performance required for Sentences 3.1.5.5.(1), (2) and (3). The Designate stated that the issue is not about satisfying the fire test conditions in Article 3.1.5.5., it is about the condition in Subclause 3.1.5.5.(1)(a)(ii) that limits this exemption to sprinklered buildings not more than six storeys in building height. The Designate said he believes that exceeding minimum fire test performance results and limited use of the system are not relevant compensating measures when the issue is building height limits. The Designate added that six storey building height limits in the Building Code are related to the six storey building height limitations of most firefighting equipment.
The Designate said the Ontario Building Code, not the National Building Code of Canada, is the law that applies in this dispute. The Designate said he is aware that the National Building Code of Canada provision about combustible materials in exterior walls was changed in 1996 and that the condition limiting height to not more than six storeys if sprinklered became was removed. The Designate said he did not know why the change was not adopted by the Ontario building code. The Designate added that he did know that there have been several requests to make that change in the past, however the change has not been made.

In summary, the Designate said the system’s compliance with Sentences 3.1.5.5.(2) and (3) of Division B, of the Building Code, is not in dispute. However, the Designate maintained that compliance with those provisions is not relevant because they only apply to buildings described in Subclauses 3.1.5.5.(1)(a)(i) and (ii), and in this case, the proposed ten storey building height of the subject sprinklered building exceeds the six storey limit in Subclause (ii).

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed construction of an exterior wall system, which contains combustible components, does not provide sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Sentence 3.1.5.5.(1) of Division B, of the Building Code, for a ten storey building, at 88, 98 and 108 Richmond Road, City of Ottawa, Ontario.

6. Reasons

  1. The Commission heard that the subject building is required to be of noncombustible construction and to be sprinklered. Subsection 3.1.5., of Division B, of the Building Code, regulates noncombustible construction. Sentence 3.1.5.1.(1), states that a building or part of a building required to be of noncombustible construction, shall be constructed with noncombustible materials, except where permitted.
  2. If not already permitted by Sentence 3.1.5.5.(5) of Division B, of the Building Code, Sentence 3.1.5.5.(1) is an exemption that would permit an exterior non-loadbearing wall assembly to include combustible components, provided that certain conditions are met, one of which relates to building height. Since the subject building is sprinklered, this provision would permit a building up to six storeys in building height to include combustible components in an exterior non-load bearing wall system that meets the performance requirements of the CAN/ULC-S134 standard. The Commission heard that the subject building is ten storeys in building height and therefore this provision should not apply.
  3. The Commission did not find the Applicant’s arguments regarding the limited application of an exterior non-load bearing wall system that exceeds the performance requirements of the CAN/ULC-S134 standard and regarding the similar National Building Code of Canada, 2005, provision, which includes the same conditions, except there is no limit to building height, to be persuasive enough arguments to convince the panel that a further relaxation of the Building Code is warranted.

 
Dated at the City of Toronto this 23rd day in the month of January in the year 2014 for application number B 2013-34.

 

Tony Chow, Chair

Alison G. Orr

Mina Tesseris