After much delay, Canada’s 2020 National Model Construction Code for Buildings was released this spring. Alongside improved standards for structural integrity, safety, health and accessibility, this code guides new buildings toward a higher standard of energy efficiency, a crucial step in addressing climate change.
The 2020 codes present a new paradigm: they set out a range of criteria that includes the minimum standard (Tier 1), along with additional voluntary tiers that offer a progressive series of performance-based steps, culminating in “net-zero ready” buildings, which are so efficient that they can generate all the energy they need themselves if renewable energy equipment such as solar panels are installed.
Performance-based, as opposed to prescriptive, pathways to compliance allow architects and engineers to get creative in how to meet energy-efficiency targets.
A tiered code allows jurisdictions to select a tier that aligns with their energy and carbon-reduction strategies without having to develop their own unique codes. In addition, the higher tiers make it possible for forward-thinking builders and designers to target higher energy performance.
Manitobans should welcome the arrival of the new codes. The Model National Codes are updated every five years, and ensure that our building stock improves over time. Unfortunately, Manitoba never adopted the codes released in 2015/17; we are among the last in Canada to still be using the 2010 codes.