Project contact is Paulo Tabares at the Colorado School of Mines
Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a mass timber material that has the potential to expand the wood building market in the U.S. However, new sustainable building technologies need extensive field and numerical validation quantifying environmental and economic benefits of using CLT as a sustainable building material so it can be broadly adopted in the building community. These benefits will also be projected nationwide across the United States once state-of-the-art software is validated and will include showcasing and documenting synergies between multiple technologies in the building envelope and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. However, there are no such studies for CLT. The objective of this project is to quantify and showcase environmental and economic benefits of CLT as a sustainable building material in actual (and simulated) commercial buildings across the entire United States by doing: (1) on-site monitoring of at least four CLT buildings, (2) whole building energy model validation, (3) optimization of the performance and design for CLT buildings and (4) comparison with traditional building envelopes. This knowledge gap needs to be filled to position CLT on competitive grounds with steel and concrete and is the motivation for this study.
Building energy regulations have been changing quite quickly across Canada to meet the mandates of governments to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Canadian model energy codes including the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC)—9.36. Energy Efficiency and the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) have been incrementally raising energy efficiency requirements, moving towards being net-zero energy ready. The Government of British Columbia enacted the Energy Step Code in 2017, so new construction will reach net-zero energy ready by 2032. The Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) has recently launched its Net Zero Home Labelling Program, providing two-tiered technical requirements for Net Zero and Net Zero Ready Homes.
Most of the Canadian energy codes and programs take an “envelope first” approach, as reducing heat transmission and air leakage through the building envelope is the most effective method to minimize energy loss. For example, the City of Vancouver requires RSI 3.85 (R22) effective for walls of residential buildings up to six storeys and mandatory airtightness testing.
Industrialized construction brings a revolution to the construction sector by mass producing panelized assemblies and modular units, which are able to provide higher levels of thermal insulation and airtightness, along with improved construction quality and efficiency, and a solution to labour shortages in the construction industry.
This document has been developed to facilitate industrialized construction for wood-based building envelopes (exterior wall, roof) to meet increased energy efficiency requirements.
Unlike other solid wood panel systems, ICLT panels are manufactured without the use of adhesives or fasteners. Wood members are connected with tongue-andgroove joints within a given layer and with dovetail joints across layers. This reduces cost and allows ICLT panels to be disassembled at end of life to be repurposed in the building material supply chain. In addition, ICLT panels provide a means to utilize lumber from trees killed by mountain pine beetle.
Durability is critical for sustainable construction, and avoidance of moisture accumulation in wood structural members is essential for long-term performance. Little work has been done specifically on hygrothermal performance of massive timber construction.
The objective of this research is to identify building envelope design and construction practices for robust hygrothermal performance of ICLT walls in multiple U.S. climates.
This report provides an overview of major changes occurred in the recent decade to design and construction of the building envelope of wood and wood-hybrid construction. It also covers some new or unique considerations required to improve building envelope performance, due to evolutions of structural systems, architectural design, energy efficiency requirements, or use of new materials. It primarily aims to help practicioners better understand wood-based building envelope systems to improve design and construction practices. The information provided should also be useful to the wood industry to better understand the demands for wood products in the market place. Gaps in research are identified and summarized at the end of this report.
Project contacts are Shiling Pei (Colorado School of Mines) and Samuel L. Zelinka (Forest Products Laboratory)
This project will generate three benchmark data sets for multistory CLT building moisture performance in different climate zones. Data will include moisture contents at key wood components and high moisture risk locations throughout the buildings. A relatively simple, but fully validated, numerical model for analyzing similar building moisture performance will be recommended. These results will be useful for structural engineers and architects to accurately consider moisture in their design of mass timber buildings.
Borate can be a potential candidate to protect building envelope components from biodegradation as it has low toxicity and can penetrate wood without pressure treatment, even in the refractory species commonly used in construction industries as structural components. In this research, wood moisture content, grain direction, formulation and species that affect the diffusion of borate in refractory species were investigated. Two highly concentrated formulations were applied and a novel approach (borate bandage) was used to keep the preservative on the surface and enhance the diffusion by reducing surface drying. From ANOVA test for different diffusion periods and depths of penetration, it was found that grain directions and moisture content are significant factors. A mould test was performed, the diffusion co-efficients were calculated and some recommendations were made about the quantity required to protect a specific volume of wood considering the distance moved by diffusion and volume treated in different directions.
Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a type of mass timber panel used in floor, wall, and roof assemblies. An important consideration in design and construction of timber buildings is moisture durability. This study characterized the hygrothermal performance of CLT panels with laboratory measurements at multiple scales, field measurements, and modeling. The CLT panels consisted of five layers, four with spruce-pine-fir lumber and one with Douglas-fir lumber. Laboratory characterization involved measurements on small specimens that included material from only one or two layers and large specimens that included all five layers of the CLT panel. Water absorption was measured with panel specimens partially immersed in water, and a new method was developed where panels were exposed to ponded water on the top surface. This configuration gave a higher rate of water uptake than the partial immersion test. The rate of drying was much slower when the wetted surface was covered with an impermeable membrane. Measured hygrothermal properties were implemented in a one-dimensional transient hygrothermal model. Simulation of water uptake indicated that vapor diffusion had a significant contribution in parallel with liquid transport. A simple approximation for liquid transport coefficients, with identical coefficients for suction and redistribution, was adequate for simulating panel-scale wetting and drying. Finally, hygrothermal simulation of a CLT roof assembly that had been monitored in a companion field study showed agreement in most cases within the sensor uncertainty. Although the hygrothermal properties are particular to the wood species and CLT panels investigated here, the modeling approach is broadly applicable.
This report documents the instrumentation installed for monitoring moisture, indoor air quality and differential movement performance in a six-storey building located in the City of Vancouver. The building has five storeys of wood-frame construction above a concrete podium, providing 85 rental units for residential and commercial use. It was designed and built to meet the Passive House standard and, once certified, will be the largest building in Canada that meets this rigorous energy standard. Although the design and construction focused on integrating a number of innovative measures to improve energy efficiency, much effort was also made to reduce construction costs. One example of the design measures is the use of a highly insulating exterior wall assembly that integrates rigid insulation between two rows of wall studs as interior air and vapour barriers.
This monitoring study aims to generate data on long-term performance as part of FPInnovations’ effort to assist the building sector in developing durable and energy efficient wood-based buildings, which is expected to translate into reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions from the built environment. The monitoring focuses on measuring moisture performance of the building envelope (i.e., exterior walls, roof, and sill plates); indoor environmental quality including temperature, humidity, and CO2; and vertical differential movement between exterior walls and interior walls below roof/roof decks. In total, 79 instruments were installed during the construction.
The next steps of this study will focus on collecting and analysing data from the sensors installed, and assessing performance related to the building envelope and vertical differential movement. FPInnovations will also collaborate with CanmetENERGY of Natural Resources Canada to monitor heat recovery ventilators and to assess whole-building energy efficiency and occupant comfort. This is expected to start after the mechanical systems are fully commissioned during occupancy. Results of these upcoming phases of work will be published in future reports.
The role of the Building Envelope team in this project is to assess whether alternate wood-based building envelope solutions developed by the Fire Team to meet the fire provisions of NBC 2010, also meet NBC Part 5 requirements relating to the protection of the building envelope from long term degradation due to uncontrolled heat, air, moisture and precipitation (HAMP) ingress into the building envelope of mid-rise buildings.
In a process of consultations with stakeholders, including the Canadian Wood Council (CWC), FPInnovations, and consultations with NRC’s Fire and Acoustics teams, specifications were developed for 2.44 m x 2.44 m wall specimens that would be investigated for hygrothermal performance.
Fifteen structural composite lumber (SCL) products including laminated-veneer lumber (LVL), laminated strand lumber (LSL), oriented strand lumber (OSL), and parallel strand lumber (PSL) provided by Boise Cascade, LP, West Fraser, and Weyerhaeuser were tested for moisture-related properties in this study, also covering four reference materials: 16-mm Oriented Strand Board (OSB), 19-mm Canadian Softwood Plywood (plywood), 38-mm Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine solid wood. Water absorption, vabour permeance, vapour sorption, and dimensional stability were measured with limited replication by following relevant standards for a purpose of assisting in improving building design and construction, such as hygrothermal modelling of building envelope assemblies, design for vertical differential movement, and on-site moisture management.