Training, Building Envelopes and Looming Shortages

Don Procter

April 2009

Trades-specific training centers in Ontario do great work. In fact, the Interior Systems Contractors Association of Ontario and building trade associations like it often do a better job at preparing their students for work than community colleges in the province do. The stats bear this out.

But the Ontario government has always been much quicker to open its wallet for college training efforts. The playing field just got a bit of leveling though when ISCA was given $702,000 (Cdn.) by the province for its new hazmat training center in suburban Toronto. The money includes $500,000 for capital costs and $202,000 for training equipment.

"Our training is world class, and it is good to see the government finally recognizing that,” says Ron Johnson, ISCA’s deputy director. "We’ve lobbied the government for years.”

Opened in January, the association’s new training facility will teach nearly 500 students annually in hazardous materials handling. EIFS apprentices are also taught at the center in suburban Toronto. The money comes from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

New Direction for OBEC
On another topic, the Ontario Building Envelope Council is gearing up for changing times—times that will see much more emphasis placed on the proper design and installation of building envelopes. Engineers, architects and even municipalities throughout Ontario are taking building envelopes a lot more seriously, says Bruce Taylor, OBEC’s executive director.

With that in mind OBEC is developing a strategic plan, based on the "new needs” of its membership, which consists of about 250 individuals and 50 companies, including building science firms, suppliers and contractors.

John Garbin, president of the EIFS Council of Canada, sees OBEC’s plans as good news because the two groups share a common purpose. Not to be outdone, the EIFS Council is set to finally launch its Quality Assurance Program this spring.

Envelopes Investigated
The British Columbia government is taking building envelope performance in its public school system very seriously these days. Its Building Envelope Program targets building envelope performance in about 400 schools in the province built between 1985 and 2000. The province doesn’t want another crisis on its hands like it had in the 1980s with its "leaky condo” calamity primarily in and around Vancouver that resulted in more than a billion dollars in repairs.

The EIFS industry stands to be a major benefactor in schools and other buildings where moisture damage in insulated walls is detected.

"I think this is a fantastic opportunity for the industry because putting insulation on the outside of buildings is becoming much more in favor,” says Laverne Dalgleish, principal of Building Professional Consortium.

What’s more, building codes are set to include energy efficiency standards.

Dalgleish develops quality assurance programs for construction sites and new standards for the construction industry in Canada and the United States. The Winnipeg-based firm helped develop the EIFS Council of Canada’s QAP.

While the damp climate of B.C.’s west coast has witnessed many building envelope failures, drier regions in Canada prove that it doesn’t have to be wet outside to get wet inside. In Ontario, some new schools have had mold even before students moved in. In one case, says Dalgleish, insulation was removed from interior wall cavities and urethane foam insulation was sprayed on to the exterior and then clad with brick.

Dalgleish says the United States is spending big money to improve energy efficiency in existing buildings. The concern is that the abundance of work could see a severe shortage of knowledgeable consultants and materials.

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