The launch of NRC’s technology initiative, Building Regulations for Market Access, is projected to generate significant new business opportunities and growth for manufacturers of construction products. Among others, these include innovative solutions for improving the energy performance of buildings, and for the protection of envelope components against wind and rain.
New energy requirements spurring interest
For years, industry and all levels of Canadian government have worked to enhance energy efficiency in buildings. The publication of the National Energy Code for Buildings 2011 and the recent incorporation of energy requirements for housing in Part 9 of the National Building Code are already inspiring a new round of innovation. As part of our technology initiative, we will help firms, utilities, and code authorities develop tools to use in demonstrating compliance with these new energy requirements.
During consultations, industry and the provinces and territories identified a number of technical issues that need to be addressed before specific energy solutions can be developed and validated. By working with our partners and clients to resolve these issues, NRC will help builders and designers achieve code compliance more readily.
There is growing interest in new technologies and design approaches that will enhance the energy efficiency of building envelope systems. Collaborators in our research initiative are proposing a rating system that captures the combined effect of good thermal insulation and exceptional airtightness. At the present time, these elements are addressed as separate criteria when assessing envelope performance.
Additionally, numerous manufacturers see promise in technologies such as envelope components that incorporate reflective foils or significant thermal mass, and assemblies with air spaces and complex thermal bridges. We will help manufacturers develop design methods and compliance assessment tools to ensure they can demonstrate and capitalize on the benefit of innovative designs and products.
As regulatory requirements for indoor air quality are developed and validated in the coming years, opportunities will arise for companies wishing to invest in energy-efficient ventilation systems and air-cleaning technologies. At NRC we have several collaborative projects underway and welcome additional partners seeking to benefit from these solutions.
Wind and rain: challenges create opportunities
Canada's cold climate and a greater incidence of damage from wind and wind-driven rain have continually challenged manufacturers and designers to find innovative ways to protect the building envelope from the elements. The time and cost of demonstrating compliance is high for the many combinations of membranes, cladding, and fastening systems used for innovative products. Through collaborative research projects and technical services, we will continue to help clients and partners develop solutions to these issues.
New challenges are arising from the use of building envelope-mounted equipment such as photovoltaic systems and rooftop gardens. To this end, NRC will help industry clients determine how these systems affect structural integrity and overall performance of the envelope.
During the first phase, we will work with partners seeking improvement in weather protection technologies on the following:
developing new performance levels for the standard assessment of innovative roofing systems;
creating evaluation guides for products used for enhanced weather protection of walls; and
validating requirements for weather protection of multi-function wall systems.
As a result, manufacturers will see their innovation efforts reach the implementation stage more quickly and at less cost. Technical criteria, as well as evaluations and design guides resulting from the work, will encourage product development and commercialization by demonstrating code compliance more quickly and easily. This will give builders confidence to use innovations without undue liability concerns.