Author Archives: CS Editor

New standard for electrical impedance scanners for roofing moisture surveys

A proposed ASTM standard will create best practices for electrical impedance scanners used in roofing/waterproofing surveys. Photo © BigStockPhoto

A proposed ASTM standard will create best practices for electrical impedance scanners used in roofing/waterproofing surveys. Photo © BigStockPhoto

Excess moisture trapped in roofing or waterproofing assemblies can have a negative impact on performance, and also lead to premature failures. Employing an electrical impedance scanner is a an efficient way to conduct moisture surveys of roofing and waterproofing systems.

A new ASTM International standard—D7954/D7954M, Practice for Moisture Surveying of Roofing and Waterproofing Systems Using Non-Destructive Electrical Impedance Scanners—covers the use of electrical impedance scanners to monitor the moisture level of a roofing system over various stages of its lifespan.

“As the practice of using electrical impedance scanners to locate moisture and evaluate the comparative moisture levels within roofing and waterproofing systems is widely used, it is important to have an ASTM standard in place that would qualify the types of moisture scanner suitable for this purpose,” explained Sean Fallon, a member of Subcommittee D08.20 on Roofing Membrane Systems.

In the described procedure, an electrical impedance scanner is moved across a roof surface. Low-frequency signals are transmitted non-destructively through the surface, measuring the electrical alternating current impedance. The strength of the signal varies in proportion to the moisture level under the footprint of the scanner, with greater amounts of moisture resulting in higher comparative moisture readings.

ASTM D7954/D7954M can be used during a roofing/waterproofing assembly’s installation to determine whether there was moisture intrusion into the system or materials. However, it can also be employed at regular intervals as part of a preventive maintenance program or before repair work to determine the extent of amelioration necessary.

California: Design-build authorization for infrastructure delivery

A new senate bill is expected to increase use of design-build for California. Photo © BigStockPhoto

A new senate bill is expected to increase use of design-build for California. Photo © BigStockPhoto

On September 30, Senate Bill (SB) 785, Design-build, was passed in the California Legislature, standardizing the state’s design-build laws and clarifying opportunities for project owners and practitioners. According to the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA), it is the eighth bill passed in California in the past year that expands authority for the practice, which involves combining design and construction services into a single contract with one point of responsibility.

This type of project delivery system was first authorized in the Golden State more than two decades ago, but DBIA says succeeding statutes included numerous limitations to employing design-build, and resulted in many challenges, inconsistencies, and confusion.

“In practical terms, [prior to SB 775] this patchwork of laws was so confusing that agency heads and practitioners would often use a less-efficient delivery method… simply to avoid the legal confusion design-build caused in California,” said Richard Thomas, DBIA’s director of state/local legislative affairs. “Project managers often wanted to use design-build to deliver higher-quality projects in less time with fewer change-orders, but wading through the myriad regulations simply became too time-consuming.”

SB 785 allows those state agencies previously precluded from combining design and construction services to now do so.

Proponents of design-build say the method can mean faster delivery, cost savings, and better quality because a single entity decreases owners’ administrative burdens, enabling them to focus on successfully delivering the project, rather than managing separate contracts. The approach is also lauded by its practitioners for reducing risk and resulting in fewer litigation claims.

ASTM proposes standard for qualifying firestop inspectors

 A new ASTM standard will assess the qualifications of firestopping inspectors. Photo courtesy BigStockPhoto

A new standard, developed and proposed by ASTM, could assess the qualifications of firestopping inspectors. Photo courtesy BigStockPhoto

A new ASTM standard could be used to assess the credentials and qualifications of inspectors who routinely employ ASTM firestop standards in their work.

ASTM WK40836, Practice for Credentials for Inspectors of Through-penetration Firestop Systems, Fire-resistive Joint Systems, and Perimeter Fire Barriers, would provide the information necessary to qualify inspectors who work with ASTM E2174, Practice for Onsite Inspection of Installed Firestops, and ASTM E2393, Practice for Onsite Inspection of Installed Fire-resistive Joint Systems and Perimeter Fire Barriers.

Both those standards were adopted into the 2012 International Building Code (IBC) for buildings 23 m (75 ft) or taller, with Category 3−4 occupancies. The IBC adoption means more jurisdictions from the local to federal level will need individuals qualified to do firestop inspections.

According to ASTM member Patrick Tesche (managing director of Global Fire Protection Group and the International Firestop Council [IFC] Inspector Committee chair), ASTM WK40836 would be used to test the knowledge of inspectors who wish to become qualified to conduct firestop inspections. The proposed standard will be directed toward building owners, developers, and design professionals as well as government agencies.

“The standard we are developing will help the authority having jurisdiction [AHJ] gauge the qualifications of a third-party firestop inspector,” says Tesche. “The components included are education, experience, and knowledge of installed firestop systems, as well as understanding conflict of interest and other acceptance criteria.”

The proposed standard is being developed by Subcommittee E06.21 on Serviceability, part of ASTM International Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings. Tesche invites all parties with expertise in passive fire protection to participate. He says the committee would particularly like to see increased participation from independent consulting and firestop inspection firms.

The Construction Specifier reached out to Bill McHugh, CSI, the executive director of the Firestop Contractors International Association (FCIA), for his comments.

“FCIA was the code proponent for the addition of the ASTM E2174 and ASTM E2393 standards for the inspection of installed penetration and joint firestops into Chapter 17 (“Special Inspections”) of the International Building Code (IBC),” he said. “IBC’s Chapter 17 requires both the special inspection agency (company) and the individual special inspector (employee) that performs special inspections demonstrate knowledge, education, and expertise in firestopping to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). The (IAS) Accreditation Criteria (AC) 291 for Special Inspection Agencies has a section on firestopping already for the company to demonstrate capabilities for the AHJ to accept the company as an approved agency.”

“This new ASTM Work Item, when it becomes a standard, may be a good addition to the already existing FM and UL firestop exams to provide AHJs with an easier way to approve the individual inspectors,” McHugh continued. “Don’t forget, though, it’s a package—both the special inspection agency and the individual inspector need to be approved by the AHJ. This new ASTM program only approves the individual inspectors.”

EPA helping green five state capitals

A previous recipient of the Greening America’s Capitals program, Helena, Montana, employed a design option for Last Chance Gulch with on-street parking, paving that allows water to fall through to the soil, shared lanes for bikes and vehicles, and new trees in stormwater planters that are installed in sidewalks to better manage runoff. Images courtesy EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing technical assistance to help five capital cities develop green infrastructure, improving neighborhoods, and increasing protection against impact from climate change.

This year’s Greening America’s Capitals candidates were selected through a national competition, and the agency will work with each city to provide design assistance in specific neighborhoods. The projects focus on incorporating green infrastructure by using vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater.

“EPA is excited about the opportunity to work with five new capital cities as they pursue their vision of a more sustainable future,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “Their projects will lay the groundwork for a greener, healthier environment that can help these cities become more resilient to climate change and other challenges, while acting as models for other communities.”

The program has been in place since 2010, with 18 capital cities and the District of Columbia benefiting from community designs that helped clean the air and water, stimulate economic development, and make existing neighborhoods more vibrant places.

Austin, Texas
Austin will receive assistance to create design options to improve pedestrian and bike connections in the South Central Waterfront area, and to incorporate green infrastructure that reduces stormwater runoff and localized flooding, improves water quality, and increases shade.

Carson City, Nevada
Carson City will be improving William Street—a former state highway that connects to the downtown area. The project will help the city explore how to incorporate green infrastructure through the use of native plants, and to enhance the neighborhood’s economic vitality.

 Another past winner of Greening America’s Capitals, Des Moines, Iowa’s 6th Avenue redesign provides landscaped areas to absorb and clean stormwater, local art within public infrastructure, and new bus shelters.

Another past winner of Greening America’s Capitals, Des Moines, Iowa’s 6th Avenue redesign provides landscaped areas to absorb and clean stormwater, local art within public infrastructure, and new bus shelters.

Columbus, Ohio
Columbus intends to develop design options for the Milo-Grogan neighborhood; it will explore using green infrastructure to improve stormwater quality, reduce flooding risks, and encourage walking and cycling.

Pierre, South Dakota
Pierre will receive assistance to redesign its historic main street, South Pierre, in a way that uses green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff and improve resiliency to extreme climate conditions.

Richmond, Virginia
Richmond will receive assistance to design options for more parks and open spaces, and to incorporate green infrastructure to better manage stormwater runoff on Jefferson Avenue—the street serving as the gateway to some of Richmond’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/greencapitals.htm.

Association Cooperation

In the October issue of The Construction Specifier, authors Ward R. Malisch, PhD, PE, and Bruce A. Suprenant, PhD, PE (both of the American Society of Concrete Contractors [ASCC]) wrote our cover story, “Bridging the Specification Gap between Divisions 03 and 09: Concrete and Floorcovering Associations Unite.” The piece looked at how their association teamed up with six other flooring groups to find a solution to a ‘specification gap’ between Divisions 03 and 09 in terms of floor surface flatness requirements.

For space reasons, we had to hold off including a little more background on how these associations collaborated. That ‘missing’ information follows, in the words of Malisch and Suprenant:

The impetus for developing the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC) Position Statements came from a group of contractor members who became aware of a paper published by a national wood flooring organization—not, it should be noted, the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA)—that stated the organization did not believe in F-numbers and felt they should not be used to measure slabs for gym floors. Rather than trying to decide how they could build a floor that meets unreasonable requirements, ASCC contractors realized they needed to spend their time and resources to educate the industry on the limitations of concrete floors. Thus was born this series, including ASCC Position Statement 6, Division 3 versus Division 9 Floor Flatness Tolerances.

Then, rather than continuing to fight their fellow contractors in the floorcovering industry, ASCC made an effort to get them on board, realizing the greater strength of a united front. ASCC first approached NWFA. With only minor rewriting, that association was eager to endorse the Position Statement.

“For the first time, instead of disagreeing, the two sides have come together to find a common solution to a problem that has cost both groups hundreds of thousands of dollars in rework,” said NWFA president/CEO Michael Martin.

Shortly thereafter, ASCC invited the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) to participate in a panel discussion on this topic featuring contractors and technical personnel from both disciplines. Both sides acknowledged the wisdom of a bid allowance to compensate for the incompatibility of the measuring methods, and NTCA became the second flooring association to sign on.

Bart Bettiga, NTCA executive director, commented on the reasons for the document’s usefulness.

“It is our belief this position statement is one of the most important documents we have supported in the past several years,” he said. “This statement accomplishes its goals on many levels. It educates the construction professional about important considerations that must be taken when specifying floorcovering products over concrete substrates.”

“The most important point emphasized in this position statement centers on the disparity related to meeting industry standards in the respective divisions,” Bettiga continued. “Equally important is the call for communication between the related parties and for a proactive approach to be determined prior to the commencement of the work. We strongly support the use of this statement to our members in their communication to the general contractor and architect/specifier on their projects.”

These two organizations were followed by the Flooring Contractors Association. Then, last year, Scott Conwell, director of industry development and technical services for the International Masonry Institute (IMI) contacted the ASCC, asking to add the group’s name, along with those of the Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA) and the International Union Of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen (BAC) to the list of supporters.

“This ASCC Position Statement succinctly brings to light the disparity in requirements for floor flatness between the concrete and the ceramic tile trades,” says Conwell. “The paper effectively brings expectations in line, leading to increased cooperation on the job site to make any corrections to the floor that may be necessary prior to installation of the tile finish.”

Two trades with distinctively different practices and obstacles to overcome but with one goal: to deliver a high-quality product to a satisfied owner.