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Civil engineering prof Rajeev Ruparathna standing in front of apartment buildingCivil engineering prof Rajeev Ruparathna is looking toward the construction of more resilient multi-unit, residential buildings.

Civil engineering prof aiming to build resiliency in homes

An increase in natural disasters and pandemics has prompted an engineering researcher to create a solution that enables the resilient construction of multi-unit, residential buildings.

Apartments are gaining popularity in Canada, says Rajeev Ruparathna, a civil engineering professor at the University of Windsor.

“Considering the increase in frequency and magnitude of natural disasters and the recent tragic condo collapse in Miami that killed nearly 100 people, we see an urgent call for more resilient Multi-Unit Residential Buildings,” he says.

But Dr. Ruparathna says there is a lack of resources to support this, especially during design and construction. His latest project addresses this gap by developing resources to ensure the resiliency of multi-unit homes through a Building Information Modeling (BIM)-based rule set that allows engineers and architects to check a building design for resiliency principles.

The BIM rule set will be based on guidelines in the National Building Code, Canadian Electric Code, National Fire Code, Canada Standard Association standards, and BOMA Canada Resilience Brief.

“In British Columbia, wildfires are predicted to increase, and current development plans around floodplains place communities at a high risk of flooding due to changing weather patterns,” Ruparathna says. “Moreover, more pandemics are expected in the future. Based on the learnings of COVID-19, it is important to ensure the safety of building occupants.”

Supported by a British Columbia Housing (BC Housing) Building Excellence Research & Education Grant, the project will utilize BC building guidelines and can be extended to comply with provincial regulations across Canada.

“Our research outcomes aim to maintain the performance of a building during and after hazards, reduce damage and performance errors, and minimize recovery time and costs, which will ensure the health and safety of building users,” Ruparathna says.

The Building Information Modeling has been revolutionizing the construction sector, but on a global scale, Canada has been lagging in the technology’s adaptation, he adds.

Ruparathna touts BIM for its increased efficiency; reduced errors and waste; and enhanced communication, collaboration, and sustainability.

“These benefits support low-cost, timely, and sustainable residential construction,” he says.

Once the project is complete, Ruparathna will host a workshop with BIM practitioners, construction associations, BC Housing, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to disseminate research findings and recommendations.