Our code expertise, together with extensive knowledge of fire protection and life safety principles, allows GBA staff to develop alternative solutions (formerly known as equivalencies) to literal building code requirements. An alternative solution is recognized in the building codes as an alternate method of meeting the literal requirements of the building code, provided that the alternative solution measures demonstrate that at least the same level of performance mandated by the literal requirements of the building codes are maintained. An example of a commonly used alternative solution is the use of sprinkler protected glass in lieu of a required 1 hour fire separation in a wall.
Our ability to successfully develop an alternative solution makes GBA a valuable resource to a design team when developing an innovative design which might not otherwise be recognized by the existing building codes. Use of our extensive technical library containing fire test reports, together with the use of state of the art fire growth, smoke spread, egress analysis, and fire detection and suppression models, provides our staff with the tools necessary to justify almost any type of alternative solution.
While today's building codes allow for alternative solutions to meet literal requirements, Canada is moving towards the introduction of an objective based, or performance based, building code. This type of building code is significantly different from today's codes in that designers will be provided with the fire and life safety objectives that a building design must meet. The objective based codes allow for unprecedented flexibility in designing innovative or unique buildings. Demonstrating to the local building officials that a unique design meets the objectives of the building codes will fall largely to the use of fire safety and life safety models. GBA can work with the designers to help them develop the design of the building so that the objectives of the codes for fire safety and life safety are achieved while maintaining the architectural and operational features required for the building.