Canada’s National Energy Code for Buildings to be Updated


This spring, the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) decided on the direction to be taken in updating the 1997 National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB). Presented with several policy papers related to this task at its February 2010 meeting, the Commission requested that the information be made available to interested stakeholders for comment prior to it being voted on and ratified.

One of the papers reviewed by the CCBFC outlined the principles being used to update technical requirements in the NECB. The principles touched on various aspects, including energy performance, cost impact methodologies, energy source differentiation, different assembly constructions and different occupancies. According to these principles:

•The CCBFC would agree to recognize the energy performance goal set by the July 2008 statement of the Council of the Federation (an intergovernmental body made up of Canada's premiers) that the 2011 NECB be 25% better than the 1997 NECB.
•The CCBFC would agree that the costing methodology used in the background cost-benefit analysis supporting the technical changes be a simple payback approach. The technical requirements are being developed with the expectation that the payback for the proposed building component enhancements (to the building envelope, lighting systems, HVAC, etc.) will vary in accordance with their anticipated service life.
•The CCBFC would also agree that the NECB not differentiate requirements based on energy source, which varies between the provinces and territories (along with production characteristics), but rather address the overall energy used by the building irrespective of energy source.
•For assembly constructions, the CCBFC would agree that it would be beneficial to let the market drive design, taking into account the energy efficiency provisions set by the Code, because certain industry areas would have more difficulty meeting prescribed performance levels.
•Lastly, the Commission would agree that the NECB would not set different levels of thermal perfor­mance for a building envelope based on occupancy, since advances in construction materials and techniques have made it possible to achieve similar energy performance levels.

An interim report on proposed objectives and functional statements for the NECB, produced in collaboration with the provinces and territories, was also presented at the February meeting. The functional statements were then approved by the CCBFC, but more work remained to be done on the objectives, including important steps of the official protocol for adding a new objective to the core codes. The proposed objectives and functional statements for the NECB (scheduled to be published in 2011) as well as its technical content are expected to be finalized in June 2010. They will be submitted for broad public review in fall 2010.

[Source:, June 2010]