Friday, March 22, 2013

$18 Million Northern Building is FUBAR

I'm guessing this is a "LEEDS" qualified project that all the politicians and bureaucrats love so much. But aside from phony baloney environment certifications the fundamental problem in this story is that the Federal Government Agency is trying to shift the focus from what happened under their supervision to theoretical discussions about thermal gain due to architectural design.

 From the insufferable Globe & Mail: (with my edits to cut out a load of crap)

"A real Northern mystery has settled on the RCMP’s new $18-million Iqaluit headquarters, which is sinking into the permafrost for reasons that almost no one wants to talk about." More than two years have passed since part of the three-storey detachment office began to crack and settle ... yet only one person connected to the project will offer a full explanation – and he says it’s sabotage.

Bill Watt of Arctic Foundations of Canada Inc. (AFC) said the passive foundational cooling system he installed to keep the ground solid was deliberately damaged. He installed cooling system into the foundation in 2006.

“Somebody sabotaged two of them,” said Mr. Watt, whose Winnipeg company has installed flat-loop thermosyphon systems in projects all across Northern Canada, including eight other buildings in Iqaluit. “Someone opened the valves, and injected water into the pipes” – which then froze and prevented that part of the system from drawing heat away from the ground, he said.

The finished building opened in April, 2010. ....Seven months later, Mr. Watt was told that part of his cooling system had failed, and that the building was settling.

The RCMP referred all questions about its Iqaluit headquarters to Public Works and Government Services Canada, which developed the project. FSC Architects & Engineers and Almiq Contracting Ltd., which together designed and built the structure, said they were contractually barred from talking about it.
Tom Corrigan, a spokesman for Public Works: “It would be premature to speculate on the cause,” he said – even though the problem was discovered more than two years ago.

Mr. Watt said the thermosyphons at the building “functioned perfectly for about four years.” They were installed at least a year before work began above ground, to let the foundation – which also included concrete footings and a special gravel pad – establish itself in the permafrost. AFC monitored the ground temperatures remotely for two years, and saw nothing in the data to indicate any trouble.

Mr. Watt said that after the second year of monitoring, he was told that Public Works would keep tabs on ground temperatures from that point on. But when he heard about the damaged thermosyphons in November, 2010, he looked at Public Works’ ground temperature log and found no records for eight of the previous 12 months.

When he inspected the system, he said, he found that caps on two valves on an outdoor radiator cluster had been removed, and two of the pipes were flooded. “The water came up the pipe more than five feet above ground level,” he said. “There’s no way that can happen naturally.” He believes only a small pump could have put that much fluid in the system. He said the RCMP later got him to change the valve caps so that they could only be opened with a secure Allen key.

(NOTE: You can buy these tools at Canadian Tire)

Mr. Corrigan also said that Public Works will decide how to fix the warming problem by the end of March, and plans to do any necessary remedial work by the fall. But Mr. Watt said the building could sink further unless an active cooling system is installed to relieve the damaged pipe before the spring melt. 

Just what you'd expect from an ass covering bureaucrat.

HTs to SDA ....


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