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BCC Ruling No. 16-17-1445

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Ruling No.: 16-17-1445
Application No.: B 2016-05

 

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 Clauses 3.1.5.4.(5)(a) and (b), Sentence 3.1.5.5.(6) and Sentences 3.2.3.8.(1) and (2) of Division B of Regulation 332/12, as amended, (the “Building Code”).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Rick Gooyers, for the resolution of a dispute with Ralph Kaminski, Chief Building Official, to determine whether the proposal to install vinyl windows in the exposing building face, clad with an exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS), of a building required to be of noncombustible construction, provides sufficiency of compliance with Clauses 3.1.5.4.(5)(a) and (b), Sentence 3.1.5.5.(6) and Sentences 3.2.3.8.(1) and (2) of the Building Code at 7 Westhill Drive, Waterloo, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Rick Gooyers
Sifton Properties Ltd.
London, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Ralph Kaminski
Chief Building Official
City of Waterloo, Ontario

PANEL

Tony Chow, Chair
Leslie Morgan
Yaman Uzumeri

PLACE

City of Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

April 21, 2016

DATE OF RULING

April 21, 2016

APPEARANCES

Rick Gooyers
Sifton Properties Ltd.
London, Ontario
Applicant

Robert Dyck
Robert J. Dyck Architect & Engineering Inc.,
Kitchener, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Ralph Kaminski
Chief Building Official
City of Waterloo, Ontario
Respondent

Brandon Thompson
Building Official
City of Waterloo, Ontario

Designate for the Respondent

RULING

 

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992, to construct an 11 storey residential building at 7 Westhill Drive, Waterloo, Ontario.

The subject building is a new 11 storey, Group C occupancy building with a building area of 1 286 m². The building is required to be of noncombustible construction and is equipped with a sprinkler system, standpipe and hose system and fire alarm system.

The construction in dispute relates to the proposal to install vinyl windows in an exterior wall assembly, which contains foamed plastic insulation that is protected by an exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS).

Article 1.4.1.2. of Division A defines noncombustible and noncombustible construction as follows:

Noncombustible means that a material meets the acceptance criteria of CAN/ULC-S114, “Test for Determination of Non-Combustibility in Building Materials.”

Noncombustible construction means a type of construction in which a degree of fire safety is attained by the use of noncombustible materials for structural members and other building assemblies.

Sentence 3.1.5.4.(5) of the Building Code permits combustible window sashes and frames in a building required to be of noncombustible construction provided each window in an exterior wall face is an individual unit separated by noncombustible wall construction from every other opening in the wall, and windows in exterior walls in contiguous storeys are separated by not less than 1 000 mm of noncombustible construction.

Article 3.1.5.5. of the Building Code sets out the conditions for where combustible components for non-loadbearing exterior walls are permitted in a building required to be of noncombustible construction.

Article 3.2.3.8. of the Building Code outlines the provisions for protection of an exterior building face where foamed plastic insulation has been used in an exterior wall of a building more than 3 storeys in building height.

In this case, the dispute centers on whether the installation of both the vinyl windows having combustible frames and sashes in combination with the combustible foamed plastic insulation in the exterior wall assembly is permitted in noncombustible wall construction. The Commission is being asked to determine whether the proposal provides sufficiency of compliance with Clauses 3.1.5.4.(5)(a) and (b), Sentence 3.1.5.5.(6) and Sentences 3.2.3.8.(1) and (2) of the Building Code.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

3.1.5.4.  Combustible Glazing and Skylights
  1. (5) Combustible window sashes and frames are permitted in a building required to be of noncombustible construction provided,
    1. (a) each window in an exterior wall face is an individual unit separated by noncombustible wall construction from every other opening in the wall,
    2. (b) windows in exterior walls in contiguous storeys are separated by not less than 1 000 mm of noncombustible construction, and
3.1.5.5.  Combustible Components for Exterior Walls
  1. (1) Except as required by Sentence (2), 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,
    1. (a) the building is,
      1. (i) not more than 3 storeys in building height, or
      2. (ii) not more than 6 storeys in building height if sprinklered,
    2. (b) the interior surfaces of the wall assembly are protected by a thermal barrier conforming to Sentence 3.1.5.12.(3), and
    3. (c) the wall assembly satisfies the criteria of Sentences (3) and (4) when subjected to testing in conformance with CAN/ULC-S134, “Fire Test of Exterior Wall Assemblies”.

  2. (2) Except as permitted by Articles 3.2.3.10. and 3.2.3.11., where the area of unprotected openings determined in accordance with Tables 3.2.3.1.B. to 3.2.3.1.E. is required to be not more than 10% of the exposing building face, the construction requirements of Table 3.2.3.7. shall be met.

  3. (3) 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).

  4. (4) 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. (5) A wall assembly permitted by Sentence (1) that includes combustible cladding of fire-retardant treated wood shall be tested for fire exposure after the cladding has been conditioned in conformance with ASTM D2898, “Accelerated Weathering of Fire-Retardant-Treated Wood for Fire Testing”.

  6. (6) 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).
3.2.3.8.  Protection of Exterior Building Face
  1. (1) Except as permitted by Sentence (3) and in addition to the requirements of Sentence 3.2.3.7.(1) and where the maximum permitted area of unprotected openings is greater than 10% of the exposing building face, foamed plastic insulation used in an exterior wall of a building more than 3 storeys in building height shall be protected on its exterior surface by,
    1. (a) concrete or masonry not less than 25 mm thick, or
    2. (b) noncombustible material that complies with the criteria for testing and conditions of acceptance of Sentence (2) when tested in conformance with CAN/ULC-S101, “Fire Endurance Tests of Building Construction and Materials”.

  2. (2) The criteria for testing and the conditions of acceptance for a wall assembly to satisfy the requirements of Clause (1)(b) are that,
    1. (a) the fire exposed area of the wall assembly shall be not less than 9.3 m² and have no dimension less than 2.75 m,
    2. (b) the exposed surface will include typical vertical and horizontal joints,
    3. (c) the test shall be continued for not less than 15 min and the standard time/temperature curve of the referenced standard shall be followed,
    4. (d) the noncombustible protective material will remain in place and no through openings will develop that are visible when viewed normal to the face of the material, and
    5. (e) the noncombustible protective material will not disintegrate in a manner that would permit fire to propagate along the surface of the test assembly.

3. Applicant’s Position

The Agent submitted that the Applicant is proposing to use combustible vinyl windows in a building that is required by the Building Code to be of noncombustible construction. He explained that the proposed wall construction surrounding the windows in question includes an exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS), which contains combustible foamed plastic insulation.

The Agent advised that it was the Respondent’s position that the wall construction surrounding the windows must be entirely noncombustible as per Sentence 3.1.5.4.(5) of the Building Code.

The Agent maintained that Subsection 3.1.5. of the Building Code contains exceptions which allow the inclusion of combustible materials in a building that is required to be of noncombustible construction (including walls). One such exception, he asserted, can be found in Sentence 3.1.5.5.(6) of the Code, which states, “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)”.

Referring to Article 3.2.3.8., the Agent noted that Sentence 3.2.3.8. (1) states, “…foamed plastic insulation used in an exterior wall of a building more than 3 storeys in building height shall be protected on its exterior surface by, (a) concrete or masonry not less than 25 mm thick, or (b) noncombustible material that complies with the criteria for testing and conditions of acceptance of Sentence (2) when tested in conformance with CAN/ULC-S101, “Fire Endurance Tests of Building Construction and Materials”.

He advised that the supplementary documents submitted in support of the proposed construction, include tests that were conducted by Intertek in accordance with CAN/ULC-S101 that confirm that the basecoat (Primus DM) applied to the exterior surface of the foam plastic insulation conforms to this standard. The Agent concluded that since the foamed plastic insulation meets CAN/ULC-S101, it is considered to be a “noncombustible material”. Therefore, he argued, that the insulation complies with the exception provided in Sentence 3.1.5.5.(6) of the Code, which explicitly permits foamed plastic insulation in an exterior wall assembly provided it is protected in conformance with Sentences 3.2.3.8.(1) and (2) of the Code.

The Agent submitted that Clause 3.1.5.4.(5)(b) of the Building Code permits combustible window sashes and frames in a building required to be of noncombustible construction provided, windows in exterior walls in contiguous storeys are separated by not less than 1 000 mm of noncombustible construction. The Agent submitted evidence that the windows in the exterior walls in contiguous storeys are separated by not less than 1 000 mm of noncombustible construction as defined by the Building Code.

The Agent submitted that Clause 3.1.5.4.(5)(a) of the Building Code permits combustible window sashes and frames in a building required to be of noncombustible construction provided each window in an exterior wall face is an individual unit separated by “noncombustible wall construction” from every other opening in the wall. The Agent maintained that it was his opinion that the windows in this case are considered to be individual units separated by noncombustible wall construction i.e. noncombustible construction, as defined by the Building Code (emphasis added).

As a result, the Agent submitted it was the Applicant’s position the vinyl windows that are surrounded by the EIFS cladding system as proposed, comply with the technical requirements of the Building Code.

4. Respondent’s Position

The Respondent advised that the subject building is a new 11 storey, residential building that is required to be noncombustible. The Respondent explained that the Applicant is proposing to install combustible foam plastic insulation as part of the exterior wall assembly in combination with combustible vinyl window frames.

The Respondent submitted that the Building Code allows limited combustible components to be installed in buildings that are required to be of noncombustible construction, as per Subsection 3.1.5. of the Code. The Respondent asserted that for an exterior wall of a building required to be of noncombustible construction, the Building Code allows the use of combustible material in the wall assembly or in the window frames, but not both.

The Respondent submitted that Sentence 3.1.5.5.(6) of the Building Code permits combustible foamed plastic insulation, where it is appropriately protected. In this case, he advised it will be protected by an exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS).

The Respondent advised that the Applicant is applying the provisions of Sentence 3.1.5.5.(6) of the Code, which allows for combustible components in an exterior wall assembly. The Respondent submitted, it was the municipality’s position that the installation of the foamed plastic insulation in the exposing building face, which is protected by an exterior insulation finishing system, is considered to be a combustible exterior wall assembly permitted in noncombustible construction due to its EIFS protection. However, the Respondent maintained that it was also the municipality’s position that combustible window sashes and frames installed in a combustible exterior wall assembly do not comply with Clause 3.1.5.4.(5)(a).

The Respondent submitted that Clause 3.1.5.4.(5)(a) states, “Combustible window sashes and frames are permitted in a building required to be of noncombustible construction provided, each window in an exterior wall face is an individual unit separated by noncombustible wall construction from every other opening in the wall”. The Respondent maintained that this Clause requires that each window unit be separated by noncombustible wall construction, and not noncombustible construction, as maintained by the Applicant (emphasis added). The Respondent argued that since the Applicant has designed the wall assembly with combustible material, the windows in the exterior wall would not be separated by noncombustible wall construction and therefore, would not satisfy the exemption provided in Clause 3.1.5.4.(a) of the Code.

In summary, the Respondent maintained that although the Building Code allows limited combustible components to be installed in buildings that are required to be of noncombustible construction, the installation of both combustible window frames in an exterior wall assembly comprised of combustible material does not comply with the Building Code.

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposal to install vinyl windows in the exposing building face, clad with an exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS), of a building required to be of noncombustible construction provides sufficiency of compliance with Clause 3.1.5.4.(5)(b), Sentence 3.1.5.5.(6) and Sentences 3.2.3.8.(1) and (2) of the Building Code at 7 Westhill Drive, Waterloo, Ontario.

Further, it is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposal to install vinyl windows in the exposing building face, clad with an exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS), of a building required to be of noncombustible construction, does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Clause 3.1.5.4.(5)(a) of the Building Code at 7 Westhill Drive, Waterloo, Ontario.

6. Reasons

  1. Sentences 3.2.3.8.(1) and (2) of Division B of the Building Code, set out the requirements for protecting the exterior surface of foam plastic insulation, when it is used in an exterior wall of a building more than 3 storeys in building height. The Commission heard that the foamed plastic insulation in the exposing building face is being protected by an exterior insulation finishing system. The parties agreed that the proposed EIFS complies with Clause 3.2.3.8.(1)(b) of the Building Code, which requires the foamed plastic insulation used on the exterior wall of the subject building to be protected by a noncombustible material that complies with the criteria for testing and conditions of acceptance of Sentence (2) when tested in conformance with CAN/ULC-S101, “Fire Endurance Tests of Building Construction and Materials”.

    Sentences 3.1.5.5. (1) to (5) set out the conditions for where a non-loadbearing wall assembly that includes combustible components is permitted to be used in a building required to be of noncombustible construction. Sentence 3.1.5.5.(6) provides an exception to the requirements of Sentences (1) to (5), 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). As stated above, the subject EIFS satisfies the requirements of Clause 3.2.3.8. (1)(b), therefore, the exception provided in Sentence 3.1.5.5.(6) is applicable. As a result, the use of an exterior insulation finishing system is considered to be acceptable in a building required to be of noncombustible construction.

  2. Words in the Building Code that are italicized are defined terms, which can be found in subsection 1(1) of the Building Code Act or in Article 1.4.1.2. of Division A of the Building Code. Article 1.4.1.2. of Division A of the Building Code defines, “Noncombustible” and “Noncombustible construction” as follows:

    Noncombustible means that a material meets the acceptance criteria of CAN/ULC-S114, “Test for Determination of Non-Combustibility in Building Materials.”

    Noncombustible construction means a type of construction in which a degree of fire safety is attained by the use of noncombustible materials for structural members and other building assemblies.

    Clause 3.1.5.4.(5)(b) of the Building Code states, “Combustible window sashes and frames are permitted in a building required to be of noncombustible construction provided, windows in exterior walls in contiguous storeys are separated by not less than 1 000 mm of noncombustible construction”.

    Based on the evidence and testimony, it is the Commission’s opinion that the exterior wall is considered noncombustible construction, as defined by the Building Code. Further, the Commission heard that the windows in contiguous storeys are separated by not less than 1 000 mm of noncombustible construction.

  3. Clause 3.1.5.4.(5)(a) of the Building Code states, “Combustible window sashes and frames are permitted in a building required to be of noncombustible construction provided each window in an exterior wall face is an individual unit separated by noncombustible wall construction from every other opening in the wall”.

    The Commission heard from staff of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that the italicized word “construction” referenced above is an error in printing and that this word should not be italicized and would not apply to the reference in Clause 3.1.5.4.(5)(a). Further, Ministry staff advised that the intent of this Clause is to require that each window in an exterior wall face be separated by a wall comprised of noncombustible material.

    Based on the above, it is the Commission’s opinion that the proposed individual vinyl window units are required to be separated by a wall comprised of noncombustible material. Therefore, even though the wall is considered to be noncombustible construction, as defined by the Code, it is not considered to be a wall comprised of noncombustible material. The EIFS contains combustible elements that do not meet the definition of noncombustible as defined by the Code and, as a result, does not achieve sufficiency of compliance with Clause 3.1.5.4.(5)(a).

Dated at the City of Toronto this 21st day in the month of April in the year 2016 for application number B 2016-05.

Tony Chow, Chair

Leslie Morgan

Yaman Uzumeri