Daily Archives: June 18, 2014

Standards and Terminologies

In the May 2014 issue of The Construction Specifier, we published the article, “Passive Fire Protection and Interior Wall Assemblies,” by Gregg Stahl. Soon after, a reader contacted us regarding what he considered inaccuracies. We reached out to the author and, in the interest of continuing the discourse about this important topic, excerpts from both sides are included below.

Reader: The first issue is the reference to ASTM E603. The author mentions this is one of two standards that rates assemblies. Actually, ASTM E603 is a “guide” standard, and is used to explain the various types of fire tests, whether they are ASTM, NFPA, UL, or FM, and how they can be compared and contrasted. This standard is not a test method.
Author: The reader brings up several good points in regard to the article on passive fire protection. It should be noted, however, this piece was intended to provide a general overview on the basic principles of passive fire protection. As to the first point, the reader is technically correct. E603 is in fact an ASTM “Guide,” not an ASTM “Standard.” In the “Scope” section of this guide, it does state one of the purposes is to “allow(s) users to obtain fire-test-response characteristics of materials, products, or assemblies, which are useful data for describing or appraising their fire performance under actual fire conditions.” In the subsequent paragraphs, I go on to describe how A603 is used as well as differentiating it from the E119 fire test, which is testing the effectiveness of a particular assembly.

Reader: The second issue is the article states ASTM E119 tests the effectiveness of an assembly as a “fire barrier.” Although not untrue, the use of “fire barrier” seems to limit the type of fire-rated assembly that is tested, since a “fire barrier” is a specific type of fire-rated assembly used by the IBC and NFPA. ASTM E119 is used to test any type of assembly for fire-resistance, whether it is a wall, roof system, floor system, column, beam, etc.
Author: I should have been more precise in the selection of the terminology used. The intent of the term was to use a dictionary meaning, not a fire test assembly meaning. A Google search for the term will produce numerous definitions, such as the one below:

fire barrier: a continuous vertical or horizontal assembly, such as a wall or floor, that is designed and constructed with a specified fire resistance rating to limit the spread of fire and that also will restrict the movement of smoke. Such barriers might have protected openings.

Reader: The third issue is mentioning the hose stream test is used to “measure an assembly’s resistance to water pressure.” This is misleading. The hose stream test is not really a measure of an assembly’s resistance to water pressure, but to test the system’s integrity. As the commentary to the standard states, the hose stream tests the “ability of the construction to resist disintegration under adverse conditions.” In other words, it is a way of testing, from a distance (it is very hot) the assembly’s integrity from falling debris.
Author: The reader references “the standard,” but I do not know to which standard he is referring. ASTM E2226, Standard Practice for Application of Hose Stream, states:

1.3 – The result derived from this practice is one factor in assessing the integrity of building elements after fire exposure. The practice prescribes a standard hose stream exposure for comparing performance of building elements after fire exposure and evaluates various materials and construction techniques under common conditions.

The application of the hose stream does exert pressure on the assembly after it has completed either the full cycle of an E119 fire test or 50 percent of the time of the rated wall assembly. I agree the single word “pressure” does not go far enough to explain—the intent was to determine the integrity of the remaining assembly.

Reader: The fourth and final issue is the use of “area separation firewalls” in the article, and its associated endnote. The use of “area separation” walls was dropped when the IBC was published in 2000, and is not a term used by NFPA’s standards. The correct term used by both the IBC and NFPA is “fire wall” (not a single word). The endnote (no. 3) gives the impression these “area separation firewalls” are used to separate residential units or commercial tenants. This is incorrect. A fire wall divides a building—residential or commercial—into separate buildings so they can be considered independently when applying the code. “Fire partitions” are used for residential unit and commercial tenant separations within a single building and do not require the type of requirements described in the article.
Author: I respectfully disagree with the reader, who seems to be making the reference to area separation walls fit his use without recognizing the term can have more than one use or intent. It was employed here with no reference to NFPA or IBC, and was not intended as the reader interpreted it.
The term “area separation wall”—or “ASW” as it is commonly abbreviated—is used for a particular type of fire-rated wall assembly with a two-hour fire resistance rating, which is typically intended to permit controlled collapse of one unit in a multifamily residence, while still remaining intact and able to protect the adjacent unit in a fire situation. This is a common term in the construction industry. The reader can check the literature of various manufacturers and find this type of assembly. There are also various UL assemblies for this type of construction.

Walking the Walk: Energy distributor makes efficiency top priority

A clear-span steel structural system was chosen to accommodate heavy equipment at the Washington Electric Cooperative project in Marietta, Ohio. A standing-steam metal roof system was specified to provide relief from the leaks of the former facilities. Photos © D.A. Fleischer Photography

A clear-span steel structural system was chosen to accommodate heavy equipment at the Washington Electric Cooperative project in Marietta, Ohio. A standing-steam metal roof system was specified to provide relief from the leaks of the former facilities.
Photos © D.A. Fleischer Photography

By Kevin Hutchings
Maximizing energy efficiency is a key concern on virtually every new commercial construction project. When the construction happens to be for the electric provider itself, it is easy to understand how the priority takes on even greater importance. This was the case for Washington Electric Cooperative, an energy distributor located in Marietta, Ohio.

The company had been operating for years out of three separate facilities, serving nearly 10,500 customers in six counties. After five years of site planning and land acquisition, it was ready to consolidate under one roof, adding both operational and administrative efficiencies in the process.

Chief among Washington Electric’s goals with its new facility was the desire to build to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, underscoring its commitment to energy efficiency. Additionally, the company had a vested interest in using a local company for construction.

Persistence pays off
Washington Electric approached a local builder for a design-build solution. However, since the project was receiving financial assistance from the local Rural Utility Service (RUS), a government agency, the project was required to go through a bid process. After nine bidders and 90 days, local company Mondo Building & Excavating was chosen for the project.

In an effort to decrease the amount of artificial light needed and control heating costs, all offices were located on the outer perimeter, and a clerestory runs the entire length of the facility.

In an effort to decrease the amount of artificial light needed and control heating costs, all offices were located on the outer perimeter, and a clerestory runs the entire length of the facility.

The building was originally designed to pursue entry-level LEED certification. Striving for a higher goal of Silver would have required enhancements specific to such areas as water runoff and recycling—issues not germane to Washington Electric’s core business.

“We really wanted to do it right when it came to the energy side,” says the company’s CEO Ken Schilling. “We wanted to walk the walk with everything from solar panels to high-efficiency water heating, geothermal heating and cooling, and high-efficiency windows.”

Bringing more natural light inside the building also played a key role in LEED certification. For instance, all of the offices were located on

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the outer perimeter, enabling inclusion of windows. This allows the building to gain more heat from the sun during the winter, as well as reduce the energy required for electrical lighting.

Kevin Guiler, project manager, explains how another design element provided a flood of natural light.

“We added a clerestory that runs the entire 61-m (200-ft) length of the facility. It has 762-mm (30-in.) windows that add daylight and help conserve energy by reducing daily lighting needs,” he said.

The clerestory also features a gable-type window on the front facing to give it an attractive, finished look.

The new facility is 2787 m2 (30,000 sf)—including 1003 m2 (10,800 sf) of office space and 1783 m2 (19,200 sf) of space for operational support. At any given time, bills are being processed in the front area, while bucket trucks and track diggers are maneuvering in the building’s back area.

With such a broad range of activities happening inside, it was critical to find a cost-effective building design that could also be versatile.

A clear-span steel structural system was used to construct the facility, with 7.6-m (25-ft) bays in the back to accommodate the heavy equipment frequently moving in and out of the building. While the company’s needs did not call for a clear-span frame, the structural system did provide the flexibility necessary to optimize all work processes inside the facility.

The building’s roof features a standing-seam metal roof system. This was a change from the existing buildings the company was operating from—all three were experiencing leak issues. Schilling recalls the issues of the old administration building in particular.

“It was a brick building built around 1963, and it had a flat roof,” he says. “It leaked around the rooftop heat pumps and was giving us fits.”

The roof system provided a proven weathertight solution. The assembly’s efficiency, long life cycle, and recyclability attributes helped contribute to the sustainability of the new facility as well.

Smooth construction
Despite running into a few unforeseen challenges, including some tricky excavation work around a high-pressure gas line outside the building, the overall construction process itself went smoothly.

“Our concept was we wanted a simple building, but one that was very energy efficient and functional,” says Shillilng. “We were determined to get a lot of bang for our buck and have a building that will be useful for the next 50 years. “

CROPKevin Hutchings has been the training manager for Butler Manufacturing for 15 years. He is responsible for product, builder management, and sales training. Hutchings joined Butler as an order technician for the buildings division and in the retrofit roof group, where he gained substantial experience in metal roof design and detailing. He has also served as project services manager for the roof division of Butler, managing a number of large and complex retrofit roof projects. Hutchings can be contacted by e-mail at jkhutchings@butlermfg.com.