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OAA Building receives a good rating



Toronto, April 10, 2012 – More than 30 members came to OAA Headquarters, 111 Moatfield Drive Monday night to witness the Air Leakage Test administered by Halsall Engineering as part of the building program. They joined OAA Councillors and staff, and Architect, David Fujiwara, who is currently undertaking the OAA Building Program.

OAA President Sheena Sharp welcomed everyone. David De Rose, Project Manager Halsall and Dr. John Straube, Building Science Corporation (BSC) consultants to Halsall, explained the procedures and the test.

Energy benchmarking indicates the intensity per square foot. The first phase of testing is the pressurization test, followed by the depressurization test to identity the leakage path. The next phase is to use thermographic scanning and a fog machine to identify the general locations of any leaks.

“If the readings are the same under positive pressure and decompression, this indicates a thermal bridge; if the readings are different there is leakage,” explained David De Rose.

The Halsall team and BSC team had arrived late afternoon to set up the equipment and review the test plan. A big part of the setup includes finding and plugging the intentional openings and sealing them from the outside; shutting down the mechanical systems and setting up the blower doors, as well as controls and logging equipment.

In preparation for set up, Halsall looks at the surface area of the building and guestimates how many doors will be needed. In this case they guestimated four to six, brought nine and installed six. They used six digital pressure meters (model 700); four control the fans and two measure the pressure.  The next step was to open all the spaces within the building (doors, closets, etc.).

“We’re all here at the beginning of an intervention,” said Dr. John Straube. “We’re going to test for leakage and then try and reduce it.”

Straube informed the architects in the audience of the value of seeing the process, “You’ll have an advantage over all of your engineers. They don’t teach this, few have had this experience.”

At approximately 8:45 pm the depressurization began. 

We are informed that the fans like to run at full speed, but it doesn’t take much power to get to 20 Pa (our target). The fans are running at full blast with the covers removed, the addition of the rings (A rings, and B rings) constrict the air flow. They begin to constrict to make the fans work harder. 

Smells coming from the drains began to permeate the space. “When we begin we ensure the traps are full to minimize this so that the odours are not as bad,” explained Halsall representatives.

The depressurization test begins. A crew from Halsall monitored the seals so they would not pop open. The target difference is 75 Pa. The Energy Conservatory software was used to read the results. 

Fans draw air from the building; air comes back in from holes. The preliminary results show this is generally a tight buiding. Things are pretty good here.

Dr. Straube clarifies, “ (This is a ) Strong measure of how the building is put together.”

To explain the thermographic scanning which will continue into the night, a thermal imaging camera demonstration is given. Those in attendance got an opportunity to use the camera, pointing it at the floor, windows, and other attendees to view the hot spots. Thermographic scanning and fog machines will be used to identify the general locations of air leakage.

A full report of the testing will be forwarded to David Fujiwara to review the information which will be presented to the OAA Building Committee.

This energy bench-marking exercise is part of the OAA’s Building Program which was launched in 2011 as an audit and maintenance program of the 20-year old structure located at YorkMills Road and Don Mills Road.  David Fujiwara, Architect explained that the Blower Door Test is one component of the OAA Building Program. Elements that are being evaluated and updated include: glazing, lighting, controls, and insulation (the HVAC and various forms of energy production and conversion).

“Building maintenance is important. As components are removed or replaced we have an cost-effective opportunity to integrate new technologies to ensure buildings are efficient and more environmentally sound,” explained Sheena Sharp. “Buildings are the major source of global demand for energy and materials that produce by-product greenhouse gases (GHG). We want to lead by example and illustrate that the architectural profession can make a significant contribution to making Ontario less energy dependent and stronger economically.”

The OAA supports the 2030 Challenge to slow the growth rate of Greenhouse gasses (GHG) and then reverse it in order to address climate change. To accomplish this The 2030 Challenge asks the global architecture and building community to adopt the following targets:

  • At a minimum, an equal amount of existing building area shall be renovated annually to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 60% of the regional (or country) average for that building type.
  • The fossil fuel reduction standard for all new buildings and major renovations shall be increased to:
    • 70% in 2015
    • 80% in 2020
    • 90% in 2025
  • Carbon-neutral in 2030 (using no fossil fuel GHG emitting energy to operate).

These targets may be accomplished by implementing innovative sustainable design strategies, generating on-site renewable power and/or purchasing (20% maximum) renewable energy.

All new buildings, developments and major renovations shall be designed to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 60% below the regional (or country) average for that building type.