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Considerations for Photovoltaic Roofing Systems

by Ron Utzler

Non-penetrating photovoltaic (PV) sheet metal components before assembly.  Photos courtesy Viridian Systems

Non-penetrating photovoltaic (PV) sheet metal components before assembly.
Photos courtesy Viridian Systems

As the push toward renewable energy continues, roofing suppliers have been receiving an increased number of inquiries from photovoltaic (PV) providers regarding installation of these systems on warranted roof systems. Many of the PV suppliers operate on the assumption membrane manufacturers prefer use of ‘non-penetrating’ ballasted PV systems. However, this is not always the case.

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A Sound Decision

Wood brings acoustic value to structures
by Michael Heeney

In the sea of concrete and granite that people have come to expect from buildings in Washington, D.C., one structure showcasing wood stands out from the crowd. When Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater reopened in 2010, it was the capital’s first modern structure of its size to use heavy timber components. It was also the country’s first project to use a hybrid wood and glass enclosure to envelop two existing structures. Designed by Bing Thom Architects (with Fast+Epp Structural Engineers, Clark Construction, and StructureCraft Builders Inc.), the structure has a lobby large enough to hold up to 1400 patrons from all three theaters out at the same time. To warm that huge space and absorb sound, the design team again used stained poplar for the wood soffit on the lobby ceiling.
Photos © Nic Lehoux. Photos courtesy Bing Thom Architects

When designing a commercial structure, it is important to consider the situational aspects and parameters before selecting the most appropriate building products. While limitations such as budget and availability often sit at the forefront of these decisions, factors like aesthetic details and desired outcomes must be taken into account. One of the chief considerations for many projects should be the acoustics, encompassing everything from sound transmission to absorption and reverberation. Continue reading

Sprayed Fire-resistive Materials, Bond Strength, and the IBC

By John Dalton

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Photo © BigStockPhoto/Tim Markley

Sprayed fire-resistive materials (SFRMs) are passive fire-protection materials intended for direct application to structural building members. They are predominantly cementitious or mineral-fiber-based, with the fire-resistive qualities and physical characteristics varying widely between the respective types. A recent code change pertaining to these materials is important for design/construction professionals to understand. Continue reading

Missed Opportunities with Chillers

By Paul Valenta, LEED AP

IceBank Tanks

Capturing off-peak electricity savings can be accomplished by installing a hybrid cooling system that features a chiller and thermal energy storage (TES) assemblies that use water or ice to store energy.
Photo courtesy Calmac

The HVAC system is rarely thoroughly studied or analyzed until there is a problem. In the daily activities of running a business or managing a building, HVAC is out of sight, out of mind until things get too hot or cold. Then, productivity drops and costs increase as chillers limp along with Band-Aid fixes that result in expensive after-hour service calls. Replacing the chiller with a newer version (i.e. the ‘like-for-like’ method) is all too often the chosen solution, simply because it is the quickest option. However, this can represent a missed opportunity. Continue reading

Specifying NFPA 285 Testing

By Joseph Berchenko AIA, CSI, CCS

bigstock-Apartment-b#64FACC

Flames can blast through windows to climb along exterior walls—a fact replicated by a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) test.
Photo © BigStockPhoto/Anne-Louise Quarfoth

For testing certain wall assemblies, the 2012 International Building Code (IBC) requires National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-load-bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components. (That standard’s title notwithstanding, the test is performed on both load-bearing and non-load-bearing wall assemblies.) Its successful completion demonstrates the ability of an exterior wall mockup to contain vertical and horizontal flame spread across the face and through the wall’s core. Continue reading