Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Quantifying Fire Hazards of Sustainable Initiatives in the Built Environment
by Saunders, Christina M., M.S., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2018, 161; 13421673
Abstract (Summary)

We are now challenged with design-oriented goals of sustainability initiatives requiring energy efficiency in the built environment. Stricter energy codes have added more potential fuel load to a structure and its building envelope. However, these sustainability initiatives do not explicitly consider the fire risks and hazards posed by green building designs, significantly affecting the fire protection and life safety of buildings. At present, a quantitative method to compare the relative fire performance of green building materials and the hazards associated with them is not available. The objective of this research is to propose a semi-quantitative fire hazard assessment, assigning values to selected fire hazard variables. The framework to quantify the impact of sustainable initiatives to a model project is provided; the green building facade elements are the focus of the analysis in this research.

A recent hypothetical case study[67] is the model project for this research, used to demonstrate the novel framework for the development of a semi-quantitative method. It compares the relative fire performance of green building initiatives and the hazards associated with them on a high-rise residential building using cross-laminated timber. The approach employs an index method, establishing an order of magnitude, with relative rankings based on engineering judgement and experience. Levels of impact are assigned; relative hazard levels are estimated, as a weighted function of the importance or influence, of the hazard impact on the various green elements; decision-making matrices are developed and an overall hazard ranking of the building with the designed green building initiatives calculated.

Some features present mild or moderate hazard to the green building, others present high or severe hazards. The greatest concern is from the facade components; these are related to the energy efficiency credits in green building rating programs. A range of potential mitigation measures are suggested, based on synergistic effects, to provide a means of reducing the fire hazards associated with the green building initiatives. Without mitigating strategies, the fire hazards from green building initiatives can increase, life safety can decrease, and/or building performance in comparison with conventional construction can decrease. An alternate fire risk assessment method is used to compare and evaluate the semi-quantitative technique developed.

Quantifying the fire hazards of green building initiatives is critical to the performance of all structures. The sustainable intent for a building design must, therefore, be integrated into the approach to provide fire and life safety protection strategies. This integrated approach to design and construction could improve the building performance, reducing risk and achieving synergies, yielding economic, environmental, and human benefits.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kimble, Jeffrey T.
Commitee: Brizendine, Anthony L., Mayo, Glenda, Smithwick, Jake
School: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Department: Fire Protection & Administration
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: MAI 58/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Engineering, Civil engineering, Sustainability
Keywords: Fire hazards, Fire performance, Green building featues, Green facades, Hazard ranking, Semi-quantitative method
Publication Number: 13421673
ISBN: 978-0-438-72767-0
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