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Announcing the top 10 features and articles from 2017

Unlike ceramics and wired glass, 19-mm (3/4-in.) tempered glazing units meet the more-stringent Class A safety rating without the need for expensive films or laminates. Tempered glass can be used in all 20- to 45-minute applications with hose stream, provides additional radiant-heat protection, and is less expensive than filmed or laminated ceramics. Our most-read web article explored this topic more fully.
Photo courtesy SAFTI FIRST

As this year winds down, Construction Canada is revealing what were the website’s most popular features and articles from 2017. Reread a favourite or check out a piece you missed the first time around.

1. “CGSB Releases Updated Safety Glazing Standard Excluding Wired Glass” by Diana San Diego (March 28)

2. “Architects and Specification Writers: Part 1” by Cyrus Kabeer, CSP, NCARB, AIA, LEED AP (June 22)

3. “Introducing Brock Commons: Looking Up to the World’s Tallest Contemporary Wood Building” by John Metras, Ralph Austin, and Karla Fraser (May 16)

4. “Three Common Continuous Mineral Fibre Myths Debunked” by Antoine Habellion, M.Eng., M.A.S. (April 5)

5. “Edmonton Tower Breaks the ICE in New District” by Ben Aitchison (August 21)

6. “Practise What You Preach: Incorporating Acoustics in an Office Redesign” by Steve Titus, B.A.Sc., P.Eng. (September 11)

7. “Simplifying Barrier-free Design Across Canada” (July 12) by Samantha Proulx, CET

8. “Controlling Condensation from Air Leakage and Vapour Diffusion” by Vincent Chiu (September 15)

9. “Parliamentary Privileges” by Brian Burton (January 25)

10. “Legal Issues: Dismissal for Delay” by David I. Bristow, QC, LSM, C.Arb (May 11)

1. “Ontario to Reach New Heights with Tall Wood Building” (August 14)

2. “Design Unveiled for New Research Centre at Toronto’s Ryerson University” (March 20)

3. “Reflecting on the Construction of the ACC” (February 21)

4. “Architects and Engineers Share the Secrets of Success” (April 25)

5. “Recent Tests Make CLT’s Fire Performance a Hot Topic” (August 21)

6. “Modernizing History with Expansion to University of Toronto Library” (August 14)

7. “Diamond Schmitt Architects Expands into Western Canada” (March 27)

8. “Toronto Hospital Heals its Wind Tunnel Woes” (April 3)

9. “Vancouver Wood Design Awards Celebrate the Material’s Possibilities” (March 14)

10. “Ontario Students Catch TimberFever” (November 6)

Did you have a particular favourite article this year in the magazine or the website? Share in the comments below! (And all the best for 2018!)

Looking for help in aligning Alberta definitions with MasterFormat

Construction in Calgary: A new initiative aims to co-ordinate terminologies and definitions with CSC publications.
Photo ©

The Alberta Construction Association is looking for assistance with developing and updating trade definitions, and aligning them with resources like MasterFormat and UniFormat.

CSC past-president Keith Robinson, FCSC, FCSI, RSW, LEED AP, is the CSC Edmonton Chapter representative providing support for the initiative.

“The Alberta Construction Trade Definitions are a resurrection of the trade definitions that used to form a part of the construction tendering system, updated to reflect the corresponding increase in granularity within the trade contractor community,” he explains. “This is a real collaborative effort, with the goal over the next couple of years of expanding from the primary UniFormat and MasterFormat classifications to the secondary and tertiary related requirements to build a better 3D—potentially 4D and 5D—map of specification structure as an aid to describing complete work results for all project types.”

The goal is to provide a more accurate map for preparation of construction specifications that address not only the trades, but also the gaps between the existing definitions allowing for better co-ordination by the prime contractor. MasterFormat has already helped in the identification of trade relationships through organization of related requirements. The exercise is not intended to create a “trade scope,” Robinson explains, but rather to provide specifiers with information that allows for improved document co-ordination.

Information is being presented in UniFormat to reflect the elemental approach used in trade definitions, and then binding MasterFormat numbers and titles to the elements. There is a direct correlation between the two resources, essentially building one-to-many relationships and helping design/construction professionals visualize how the specification can help them in project delivery and coordination.

According to Robinson, the initiative is about one-third complete and is targeting completion early in the new year, with publication of the 2018 Update, Alberta Construction Trade Definitions aiming for March. He is looking for volunteers to make the workflow easier. Robinson will provide a short training session, and then anticipates about six to eight hours of actual work effort from each person to complete the various assignments.

“This is the potential to make significant gains in co-ordination between specifications and project deliverables—taking into account trade activities, but staying away from specifying actual scope,” Robinson says. “The granularity of the construction community these days makes identifying components for a fully inclusive specifications much more difficult than it has been in the past.”

A downloadable version is available at for anyone needing additional information. Those interested in volunteering can contact Robinson at

Using 3D to help projects leap into the future

Geolocated 3D models assist in gaining insight into the scale and location of proposed projects in context with the existing site.
Images courtesy Ledcor Contractors

By Rod Wales

Through visualization, project personnel can effectively manage more data than is possible through traditional methods. Improving construction operations has become a driving force behind innovation in virtual construction, and it will continue to push the industry to conform to new technology. Various software platforms can be used to create a workflow allowing all project members to integrate site imagery with 3D models for visual project control.

Correlating imagery to design drawings and site locations is time-consuming and not without the possibility for error. Complex geometry and large sums of information can hamper productivity during field checks for accuracy and quality. Further, photographs and videos do not always communicate the full extent of issues. This forces specific personnel to come onsite, creating additional time and cost impacts because of ineffective data-sharing methods.

A research partnership between construction company Ledcor Group and Mitacs—a national, not-for-profit research and training organization—has produced a tool that blends the actual and virtual worlds, combining models with real imagery for hands-on management of construction projects from pursuit to closeout. In this workflow, imagery captured onsite is integrated with Google Earth, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) footage, and 3D models to produce a comprehensive overview of the project. By analyzing the time stamp and geolocation of an image, the tool automatically populates the area in Google Earth for visual organization of data. The addition of drone footage allows for true 360-degree coverage of the site, ensuring all aspects are captured.

New structures can be visualized in the context of existing structures in Google Earth.

Adding a model to a space allows captured imagery to be overlain with the proposed design for real-time visualization and effective progress tracking. The result is a virtual environment all team members can access as they move forward through the various stages of construction.

This type of platform facilitates sharing of information throughout the life cycle of a construction project, providing snapshots at crucial intervals to support decision-making related to estimating, planning, and controlling. When ground images are retrieved and compared to existing and proposed sites, project teams can compare planned models to structures as they are built, tracking progress remotely and making changes when necessary.

An important feature to prioritize is the capability to accurately review and understand site data from any location. This way, project stakeholders can receive real-time project updates in a virtual reality (VR) setting. By using 3D technology, project team members can have access to a comprehensive overview of project operations and status without expending time and money to visit the site.

It is also important users have the option to control the period or location of viewing, automatically filtering by date range or location and limiting the output to requested information only. This is effective because it allows project managers to review completed work in a 3D environment and minimize effort during planning of upcoming tasks. Likewise, if there is uncertainty surrounding a previous installation, filtering data from the location and time of the install can provide users a full 3D model overlain with imagery. The option to quickly flip between different stages of a project highlights small details and information that may otherwise be overlooked by the project team. By project closeout, the result is a 3D model superimposed with staged imagery as recorded onsite.

Drone imagery is overlaid to update existing site conditions.

This offers an excellent method for checking work by comparing model components to real-life photos where any deviations or missing parts will stand out. Further, if all time-stamped imagery throughout the course of a project is combined, a detailed timeline is created containing critical information related to warranty and potential contract disputes. Full implementation of this type of tool can save time and limit conflicts during the completion phase of a project.

Moving forward
Although full implementation remains a work in progress, researchers are developing new methods to further improve 3D construction tools, such as adding embedded hyperlinks for rapid access to relevant information. If a particular component is being built with concrete, for example, it can be linked to corresponding documents containing information such as strength test results or design and quantity information.

The desire to virtually oversee construction can be rapidly translated into a working proof of concept, effectively bridging the gap between decades of construction practice and modern technology. Employing 3D software will advance workflow capabilities as well as the outlook on construction in Canada over the coming years.

Rod Wales is vice-president of operations for Ledcor Infrastructure. He leads project partnerships, proposal submissions, large design-build and public-private partnership pursuits, and major project startup. Wales is also a member of Ledcor’s innovation and technology investment committees, and holds a master’s degree in construction engineering and management from the University of Alberta. He can be reached via e-mail at

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Delving into air barriers in new downloadable e-book

The magazine’s series of sponsored e-books continues with a look at the barriers against air leakage in a variety of building assemblies.

Uncontrolled air leakage increases the burden on heating or air-conditioning, and causes problems because air can transport large amounts of humidity. Consequently, the concept of an ‘air barrier material’ was formally introduced in the 1985 edition of the National Building Code of Canada (NBC).   Building professionals adapted their designs to this new reality, but the appropriate choice and positioning of materials in assemblies brought new challenges, with the functions of air barrier and vapour barriers often misunderstood. Consequently, major failures such as mould growth in wall assemblies, rotting of structural materials, or bursting of water-saturated exterior cladding materials in winter were observed.

Starting in the mid-’90s, NBC prescribed a maximal air leakage rate for exterior wall assemblies, but did not indicate how to evaluate materials and systems to determine compliance. Interestingly, standards for air barriers appeared first at ASTM with the development of the E2178, Standard Test Method for Air Permeance of Building Materials, published in 2001. This standard rapidly became the reference for the determination of air leakage of building materials.

In Canada, the first standards related to air barrier materials and systems appeared several years later. CAN/ULC-S741, Standard for Air Barrier Materials−Specification, and CAN/ULC-S742, Standard for Air Barrier Assemblies−Specification, were published in 2008 and 2011, respectively. Some may say these are just Canadian versions of the ASTM E2178 and E2357, Standard Test Method for Determining Air Leakage of Air Barrier Assemblies, because they reference their U.S. counterparts for test conditions. However, that is all they have in common.

To learn more about the differences, and overall approaches to air barriers, you can download the new, free Construction Canada e-book, “Barriers Against Air Leakage” at The latest is a suite of sponsored e-books, this resource also includes magazine articles on curtain walls, insulating concrete forms (ICFs), and exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS).

Lessons from the Parkhill Excavating Case

What is an insurer’s duty to defend its insured when it comes to legal action? In construction, this issue comes up time after time in court cases, arbitrations, and mediations.
Photo ©

By David I. Bristow, QC, LSM, C.Arb

What is an insurer’s duty to defend its insured when it comes to legal action? In construction, this issue comes up time after time in court cases, arbitrations, and mediations. In 2004, BGS Homes Inc. (BGS) retained Parkhill to design, install, and supervise the construction of 36 septic systems in homes it built and sold. The work, performed from 2004 to 2010, was deficient. BGS and Tarion Warranty Corporation replaced the 36 septic systems in 2011.

The following year, BGS sued Parkhill for negligence and breach of contract. Parkhill defended the action of BGS and commenced a third-party claim against a sub-trade, Young Construction (Young). Parkhill then requested its insurance companies defend it in the action. The insurers denied they had a duty to defend the action and they relied on the exclusionary clauses in the insurance contracts, which stated the insurers do not cover damage to “your work”—that is, the work of Parkhill under its contract with BGS. Parkhill then commenced action against the insurers to force them to provide a defence to the claim.

The hearing judge found the “your work” exclusion applied and dismissed the case against the insurers.

Parkhill appealed and argued there would be consequential damages over and above the cost of repairs to the faulty work—therefore, the insurers must defend Parkhill in BGS’s action against it. The Court of Appeal agreed and allowed the appeal.

In allowing the appeal, the court quoted from paragraph 37 of the initial judge’s reasons for judgement:

The damages sought in the underlying action are approximately four times what Parkhill was paid to install the septic systems. The plaintiffs in the underlying action claim losses arising from deficiencies in the septic system. At para. 44 of the claim, it is alleged that the “[b]uilder has incurred costs and continues to incur costs performing remedial work necessary to satisfy the orders to comply.” Paragraph 51 of the claim alleges that the plaintiffs “are expected to have to perform further remedial work at their own expense”. Paragraph 82 refers to the cost of remedial work “including the higher cost of remedying work once the homes had been sold.” Accordingly, in addition to the question of whether defective work can be an accident, which has been answered affirmatively by Progressive Homes at paras 42-50, it is not at all clear from the claim that the damages sought are restricted only to the replacement of the allegedly deficient systems due to the work performed by Parkhill.

The Court of Appeal stated, “Having made this finding, the motions judge should have concluded that there was a mere possibility that claims for consequential damages were being asserted and that therefore the insurers must defend.”

This case now puts a heavy burden on insurers regarding the “own work” exclusion found in most all insurers’ contracts, and a mere possibility the work is even partially for consequential damages requires the insurers to defend.

The case was reported at 2016-ONCA-832.

David I. Bristow, QC, LSM, C.Arb., is a Toronto-based provider of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services consisting of mediations, arbitrations, and early neutral evaluations. He is co-author of Construction Builders’ and Mechanics’ Liens in Canada. Bristow is a member of the American Arbitration Association’s (AAA’s) panel of arbitrators, a mediation and arbitration panel member of both the International Chamber of Commerce and the Centre for Public Resources Institute of Dispute Resolution, and a charter member of Mediators Beyond Borders. He can be reached at

ICF weatherproofing strategies explored in free e-book

The magazine’s series of sponsored e-books continues with a look at the barriers against air leakage in a variety of building assemblies.

Successful independent field-testing and code compliance analysis in British Columbia has led to the continent’s first comprehensive set of residential construction details for insulating concrete forms (ICFs).  From footings to trusses, the ICF details presented in the provincial Homeowner Protection Office (HPO) release, “Building Envelope Guide for Houses,” offer a concise and cost-effective path to best practices and B.C. code compliance. Ongoing efforts indicate a strong potential for expanded adoption of these details in jurisdictions across the country.

Many different methods—and even more opinions—exist on weatherproofing ICF walls. Only recently has the industry had scientific evidence upon which to base best practices for installation of window and door openings in such walls. “ICF Field Testing Report,” a research report issued by HPO, provides a range of solutions compliant with building codes. These solutions address the widest-possible range of building types, from single-family homes to high-rise commercial buildings.

To convey the report’s findings and make them easily applicable to individual projects, it is best to start at the core of the issue—how to permanently prevent air and water leakage at window and door openings in ICF walls. A recent Construction Canada feature examines this topic. To learn more about the research, along with other strategies for blocking the escape or entry of air, you can download the new, free Construction Canada e-book, “Barriers Against Air Leakage” at

Download the new, free e-book on barriers against air leakage

The magazine’s series of sponsored e-books continues with a look at the barriers against air leakage in a variety of building assemblies.

Construction Canada has announced the newest volume in its series of free, downloadable e-books. “Barriers Against Air Leakage” is a four-part pdf exploring advancements in assemblies that help keep exterior conditions outside where they belong.

Using practical examples, industry standards, technical studies, and lessons learned, this curated collection brings together popular technical articles from the magazine to help you:

  • understand Canadian air barrier standards (and how they differ from their U.S. counterparts);
  • apply new weatherproofing research from British Columbia to ensure resilient insulating concrete form (ICF) homes;
  • improve curtain wall performance in terms of condensation resistance; and
  • harness the attributes of exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) to help ensure energy-efficient buildings.

Download the “Barriers Against Air Leakage” e-book in two different formats—pdf or digital edition—by visiting


Edmonton Chapter offering PCD, Specifier, CCA, and TR classes

The Edmonton Chapter of CSC is offering four education courses this fall, all beginning on Monday, September 11.

Its Principles of Construction Documentation (PCD) class, held at the DIALOG offices (10237 104 St.), runs 10 weeks from 6 to 9 p.m. Its successful completion serves as a prerequisite for the other three classes.

The Specifier program, which combines the former Specifier 1 and Specifier 2 courses, is intended for those pursuing their Registered Specifications Writer (RSW) or Certified Specification Practitioner (CSP) certifications. The 15-week program takes place at Planworks Architecture Inc. (201-10217 106 St.)

The Construction Contract Administration (CCA) program runs for 11 weeks at IBI Group.

Finally, the 11-week Technical Representative (TR) course has also been planned, with a specific time and location still being determined.

For more information on the classes, click here.

CSC Vancouver puts out fires with suppression presentation

On Thursday, September 7, the Vancouver Chapter of CSC is hosting a discussion on the specification and coordination of fire-suppression systems.

Led by Keith Trulson, Eng.L. AScT, a fire protection associate with Integral Group, it delves into how recent changes to local building bylaw codes have required full fire suppression designs, which must be implemented at the building permit stage.

As Trulson will explore, it is important to provide all facets of fire suppression design—from specifications, schematics, design development and working drawings to hydraulic calculations, system sizing, fire pump requirements, and seismic load calculations. Projects incorporating full fire-suppression designs also ensure tendering of projects will lessen onsite construction extras, installation delays, or fines due to late permit application.

The event takes place at the Sandman Hotel (180 West Georgia Street), in a ballroom located through the back of the Moxie’s Classic Grill restaurant. It begins with a buffet at 11:30 a.m., with the speaker presentation expected to finish by 1:30 p.m. For more information, click here or contact Vince Smith.

In other Vancouver Chapter news, the group is offering the Principles of Construction Documentation (PCD) and Certified Technical Representative (CTR) courses later this month.

Vancouver Chapter hosting PCD and CTR courses next month

The Vancouver Chapter of CSC is running two education courses in September—the Principles of Construction Documentation (PCD) and Technical Representative (TR) programs.

The 10-week PCD, a prerequisite for TR (as well as the Construction Administration (CA) and Specifier courses), kicks off on Monday, September 11 at the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) offices, starting at 6 p.m. This introductory course offers an understanding of construction documentation, products, bidding procedures, and contracts. It emphasizes the relationship between specifications and drawings, and the role of the industry participants.

The TR course, which leads to a Certified Technical Representative (CTR) designation, provides a better understanding of contract documents and bidding procedures, product representation, professionalism, and ethics, building on what is introduced in the PCD. The 14-week course takes place Wednesdays at the VRCA offices, starting on September 13 at 6 p.m. It is designed for the individual involved in the supply section of the construction industry such as manufacturer representatives, agents or distributors of products. The student will have successfully completed the PCD course.

To register or for more information, contact Glenn Chatten.