EIFS QAP and LEED Platinum School

Don Procter

October 2009

The EIFS Council of Canada has reason to feel good this fall because its Quality Assurance Program is rolling out in Ontario. Architects in the province are now able to specify the QAP on their projects. The first QAP-certified tenders should follow in late fall and early winter.

So far EIFS manufacturers and their distributor reps have written QAP certification exams; many contractors, their mechanics and auditors (inspectors) are going through that process as well, explains John Garbin, president of the EIFS Council. The council will run the program under the trademark EIFS Quality Assurance Program Inc. (EQI).

The EQI specifies design, installation and inspection requirements. While only certified contractors will be able to bid EQI contracts, you don’t have to be a member of the EIFS Council to achieve QAP certification

During installation an EQI auditor will inspect the EIFS regularly to ensure it complies with predetermined requirements, says Garbin. The program will be rolled out in other provinces next year.

LEED® Platinum Envelope
Only a handful of buildings have achieved LEED® Platinum certifications in Canada and none of them have been schools. But in Windsor, Ontario, that is about to change. A school named after Canada’s most celebrated environmentalist is on the rise that will be the first LEED Platinum education institute in the country. Slated to open next year, the Dr. David Suzuki Public School will incorporate a host of green features not normally associated with schools such as green roofing, recycled gray water plus solar and geothermal heating.

The school’s building envelope also goes beyond the norm. The Model National Energy Code of Canada, which recommends minimum standards for energy efficiency, requires exterior walls to be insulated to at least a 13.6 R-value when a building is heated with electricity—not natural gas. The Suzuki school’s walls will have an energy efficiency rating of R 25.4. Typically, schools have insulation values of R 16-20, says Gregory McLean of McLean + Associates Architects, project architect for the school.

The building will be clad in conventional architectural block. An air space behind the block will allow moisture to drain; behind the air space will be a low-VOC polyurethane sprayed foam insulation layer (2.58 inches thick) covering a half-inch exterior fiberglass reinforced gypsum sheathing. Inside the interior wall cavity will be a 3-inch layer of mineral wool insulation.

The architect says it is "very rare” that a Canadian school doesn’t heat with natural gas, but that is the case at the Windsor school where solar heating plays a key role in keeping occupants comfortable. In winter, a solar exterior wall made of a perforated metal panel system will heat air to ventilate the building. In summer heat will be drawn out of the top of the wall, rather than into the building.

Some of the green technology is expressed as an esthetic in the architectural design of the 58,000 square-foot 25-classroom school. A case in point is the array of solar photo-voltaic panels that cover the roof and drop down to form a canopy over the main entry. The panels are designed to generate 10 percent (36kW) of the building’s electrical needs.

McLean says the school will be a vehicle for study not only for its students but for environmental designers and engineers. "It’s a demonstration site for energy conservation and environmental design,” he says.

He doesn’t expect many Canadian schools to follow in its footsteps anytime soon, however, because the green features come at a big price—possibly as much as 40 percent more than the cost to design and build a conventional school.

Don Procter is a free-lance writer in Ontario, Canada.