Certification/Quality Assurance a vital part of The National Building Code in era of uncertainties

The main threats to infrastructure assets are many but include first and foremost damage or destruction caused by extreme weather events. These threats have led to Infrastructure Canada’s Climate-Resilient Buildings and Core Public Infrastructure Initiative. Led by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) this “ground-breaking work focuses on integrating climate resiliency into building and infrastructure design, guides, certification and codes.” 

The federal government’s new LCA initiative (low-carbon assets through life cycle assessment) guidelines will enable public and private sector portfolio holders to incorporate the quantification of Life Cycle Carbon & Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO) of built assets (real property, public infrastructure) into their procurement processes. For more information: https://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/crbcpi-irccipb-eng.html and https://nrc.canada.ca/en/research-development/research-collaboration/programs/low-carbon-assets-through-life-cycle-assessment-initiative

This work will contribute to an infrastructure landscape that can keep Canadian communities safer from extreme weather and deliver the Best Bang for the Buck (lowest total cost of ownership). When it comes to purchasing certified buildings and above- and below-ground infrastructure products, the best value comes from the appropriate durability and resilience over the entire lifecycle. So how to achieve best value for an investment?

 We know that specifying products that meet the right building code standard is a minimum first step. Specifying products that meet a certification program built on superior quality assurance processes, above and beyond the minimum building code standards, will protect your investment, manage risk, and provide safety assurance to your end users, tax payers, and/or service community.   

Why Precast Concrete Certification?

Certification helps ensure that the essential components of a quality assurance system are present and functioning properly, resulting in the highest probability of reducing risk, meeting specifications, and completing a successful project.  Therefore, the primary purpose of a certification program is to help ensure that products are manufactured in accordance with specifications and community expectations. In other words, certification helps ensure “as designed becomes as built” and should be considered by every designer as a means of reducing risk and ensuring quality and safety.

The Canadian Precast Concrete Quality Assurance (CPCQA) Certification Program

The national and provincial building codes require conformance to the CSA standards for precast concrete materials and construction when it comes to structural, architectural and drainage precast concrete products. CPCQA is a nationally recognized and accepted certification program that provides an independent third-party certification of conformance to the CSA standards.

The CPCQA certification program requires precast concrete manufacturers to meet the requirements of the latest editions of CSA Standards for structural, architectural and drainage products and the PCI Quality Control Manuals MNL-116 and 117 (US equivalent), with the more stringent requirements being the governing criteria. Certified plants are audited annually with at least two unannounced audits. Strict compliance with published standards is necessary to maintain certification. Certification confirms a manufacturer’s capability to produce quality products and systems.

CPCQA Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Council

CPCQA’s Quality Assurance Council (QAC) of 23 members, comprising architects, engineers, provincial government officials, ACO’s and six precast concrete producers, embodies a high level of expertise and acts independently to design and vet the certification program. 

Continuous Feedback and Addressing Client Concerns

CPCQA has two key client groups – the owners / agencies / specifiers who specify the program and the precast concrete producers who participate. Both of these groups have formal methods for providing feedback to the Quality Assurance Council on the program. Addressing this feedback is a formal part of the QAC agenda at each of their three annual meetings.

Owners or specifiers concerned about the quality of precast concrete from a CPCQA certified plant can fill in the Quality Concern Reporting Form on the CPCQA website and submit it confidentially to the Managing Director of CPCQA at QACAdministrator@precastcertification.ca. CPCQA is the only certification program in North America that has an official Quality Assurance Reporting Program and Quality Conflict Resolution Mechanism.

At present the Canadian Precast Concrete Quality Assurance (CPCQA) Certification Program certifies over 80% of the precast concrete production in Canada. The CPCQA program is the only program endorsed by the Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (CPCI) and the Canadian Concrete Pipe and Precast Association (CCPPA).

Helpful Specification Guide

Available for free download at: https://www.precastcertification.ca/en/certification_specification/

Certification Validation and Online Certified Plant Lists

Detailed information about certified plants is actively updated and securely maintained by CPCQA in the certified plant listings, as follows: 

– Architectural and Structural Precast Concrete Products: https://www.precastcertification.ca/en/certified_plants/architectural-structural/

– Concrete Pipe, Manhole Sections and Precast Concrete Drainage Products:  https://www.precastcertification.ca/en/certified_plants/pipe-manhole-drainage/

More information: precastcertification.caqacadministrator@precastcertification.ca 

Brian J Hall, B. B. A., MBA | Managing Director, Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, and Vice Chair – Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Foundation.  BrianHall@cpci.ca.

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