Civil and Environmental EngineeringWestern Engineering

Research

Surveying the damage after the Angus Tornado

Surveying the damage after the Angus Tornado

Dr. Kopp’s current interests focus on mitigating wind damage in extreme storms, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. This link to his TEDx Talk describes his research program, with further details provided below.

Current Research

Full-scale component and cladding tests at the IRLBH

Dr. Kopp with Dr. David Henderson, Dr. Murray Morrison, and Dr. Eri Gavanski (left to right) on the roof of the ‘3 Little Pigs’ test house at IRLBH.

Dr. Kopp with Dr. David Henderson, Dr. Murray Morrison, and Dr. Eri Gavanski on the roof of the ‘3 Little Pigs’ test house

The ‘3 Little Pigs’ project, named for the famous children’s story was developed to mitigate wind damage to houses during extreme storms such as tornadoes, thunderstorms and hurricanes. The research primarily takes place at the Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes (IRLBH). The focus on past research has been on the performance of residential roofs (both the complete roof structure as well as the sheathing) and residential wall systems (wood-frame walls, windows and glass, vinyl siding, brick-clad walls).

An overview of the project can be found in Kopp et al. (2010, The ‘Three Little Pigs’ Project: Hurricane Risk Mitigation by Integrated Wind Tunnel and Full-Scale Laboratory Tests, ASCE Natural Hazards Review, vol. 11, pp. 151-161). Unique pressure-based tests can be conducted using Pressure Loading Actuators, which replicate the effects of the wind in a very realistic way. This allows industry standard product tests to be assessed based on loads performed under more realistic conditions. The advantages of such methods are described by Kopp et al. (2012, Full-scale testing of low-rise, residential buildings with realistic wind loads, Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 104-106, pp. 25-39).

Photo of the test house at IRLBH

Photo of the test house at IRLBH

Current projects are focussed on the performance of vinyl siding, for residential walls, and metal roofs, for commercial buildings. This is collaborative research involving State Farm, the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), and the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA).

Damage Surveys Following Tornadoes in Canada

UWO student, Emilio Hong, examining tornado damage in Angus, ON, June 2014.

UWO student, Emilio Hong, examining tornado damage in Angus, ON, June 2014.

Canada has the second highest rate of tornado occurrence in the world. Following severe tornadoes, Dr. Kopp’s rapid response research team participates in damage investigations, which are led by Environment Canada (EC). Dr. Kopp’s team is often on-site within hours following a damaging storm. Dr. Kopp also provides annual training on wind engineering principles of relevance to damage surveys, in collaboration with EC’s meteorologists, to the EC staff and UWO students who conduct the surveys. This research complements his full-scale lab testing at IRLBH and model-scale wind tunnel studies at BLWTL, providing ground-truth for test results and indications of where there are problems and further research is needed. Since the intensity of a tornado is rated by the damage it causes, Dr. Kopp’s lab research is also helping to guide modifications to the EF-Scale as applied in Canada. This research, which began in 2006, is on-going.

wind-borne debris damage to a vehicle from the EF-3 Tornado in Goderich, On

Wind-borne debris damage to a vehicle from the EF-3 Tornado in Goderich, ON

A recent paper by Morrison et al. (2014, Assessment of damage to residential construction from the tornadoes in Vaughan, Ontario, on 20 August 2009, Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering, vol. 41(6), pp. 550-558, doi: 10.1139/cjce-2013-0570) describes the findings from the 2009 tornadoes in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan. The following link is to an ICLR Webinar by Dr. Kopp describing his team’s observations and findings from the EF-2-rated, June 2014, Angus ON Tornado.

Wind Loads for Low-Rise Buildings and Small Building Components

The vast majority of buildings are low-rise, yet there has been relatively little research on the wind loads acting on these structures, particularly on houses. Dr. Kopp’s research group has, and is, working on every aspect of the nature of wind loading of low buildings and small building components. There are many challenges with such studies, particularly small components such as sheathing, cladding systems, soffits, etc., which often fail during severe storms.

Damage from the EF-2 Angus Tornado

Damage from the EF-2 Angus Tornado

Currently, Dr. Kopp’s team is working on methods to conduct wind tunnel studies with relatively large models at the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory (BLWTL), which requires careful evaluation of the factors that control the building aerodynamics. Details can be found in Kopp et al. (2014, Building components and cladding: recent developments and future possibilities for assessing of wind effects, Proceedings of the 11th United Kingdom Wind Engineering Society Conference, Birmingham, UK, pp. 79-84). The paper by Gavanski et al. (2013, Wind loads on roof sheathing of houses, Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 114, pp. 106-121) won the American Association for Wind Engineering’s Best Paper Award (for papers in 2013).

Wind Loads on Solar Arrays

Model house in the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory

Model house in the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory

Dr. Kopp has been working on wind loads on solar arrays for about 15 years, and his work has been used as the basis for current wind loading standards, particularly SEAOC-PV2-2012 (and upcoming versions of ASCE 7 and NBCC).

Details on wind tunnel test methodologies can be found in Kopp and Banks (2013, Use of the wind tunnel test method for obtaining design wind loads on roof-mounted solar arrays, ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering, vol. 139(2), pp. 284-287), while detailed wind loads on roof-mounted arrays can be found in Kopp et al. (2012, Aerodynamic mechanisms for wind loads on tilted, roof-mounted, solar arrays, Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 111, pp. 40-52) and Kopp (2014, Wind loads on low profile, tilted, solar arrays placed on large, flat, low-rise building roofs, ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering, vol. 140(2), doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)ST.1943-541X.0000821). Fundamental aerodynamics have been investigated by Pratt and Kopp (2013, Velocity measurements around low-profile, tilted, solar arrays mounted on large flat-roofs, Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 123, part A, pp. 226-238, doi: 10.1016/j.jweia.2013.09.001).

Wind tunnel model of a house with a solar array on the roof

Wind tunnel model of a house with a solar array on the roof

Much of this research has been conducted in collaboration with commercial rack-mounting manufacturers. Current research is focussed on residential, roof-mounted arrays.

Wind Loads on Multi-layer Roof and Wall Systems

This is fundamental research on the nature of wind loads on multi-layer roof and wall cladding systems. This work has informed applied research on vinyl siding, solar arrays, and commercial (high-rise) cladding systems. A recent publication can be found in Oh and Kopp (2014, Modelling of spatially and temporally-varying cavity pressures in air permeable, double-layer roof systems, Building and Environment, vol. 82, pp. 135-150, doi: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2014.08.008). This work is funded through Dr. Kopp’s NSERC Discovery Grant.

My Research Group

Current Students

Ph.D.

Undergraduate

Alumni

Ph.D.

M.E.Sc.

M.Eng.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Exchange Students

Other