The Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes will permit, for the first time
anywhere, the application of realistically simulated time and
spatially varying wind loads to full-scale houses and light-frame
structures including sheet steel buildings, in a controlled manner,
up to failure. This will permit an assessment of the integrity of
the overall structure of the building, the pathways by which the
load is transmitted through the structure to the ground and the
performance of individual building components as part of the whole
construction. Simulated snow loading will also be investigated. In
addition, the facility will be used to assess the factors
influencing the ingress of moisture due to wind-driven rain and the
development of harmful mould growth under realistic environmental
conditions. Further, information on human error during the
construction process will be collected and its impact on the
potential damage and failure will be analyzed. These will all be
breakthrough developments to the current state-of-the-art. In fact,
much of the necessary instrumentation and equipment will be
developed as part of the project, since it does not yet exist.
Houses and light-frame buildings are complex structures because of their highly redundant and vaguely defined structural systems. For example, resistance to lateral movement is largely derived from the drywall nailed to both load-bearing and non load-bearing walls inside the structure. The infrastructure will generate necessary data to validate the next generation of computational analyses of houses and light frame buildings that will accurately predict behaviour up to failure. Full-scale component tests and even the static loading of complete structures do not adequately predict true behaviour under transient peak wind loads that fluctuate dramatically over the surface of the building. Thus, the precise response mechanisms up to failure are not yet known.
Structural loading is not the only loading that is poorly understood; rain penetration is another (as evidenced by the "Leaky condo crisis" in Vancouver). The mechanisms of moisture infiltration and mould growth and their movement within a house can best be assessed through full-scale testing, as allowed by the proposed facility.
Also from this web page:
Randy Van Straaten
Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Lab, UWO