Canadian Consulting Engineer

Eight hundred changes coming to Canada’s Building Code

November 8, 2010
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

November 29 is a big date for Canada's construction industry. It's when the new 2010 National Model Constructi...

November 29 is a big date for Canada’s construction industry. It’s when the new 2010 National Model Construction Codes are set to be released. These codes are adopted, with modifications, by most of the provinces. They include the National Building Code of Canada, the National Fire Code of Canada, and the National Plumbing Code of Canada. The last versions — the first to be objective-based — were issued in 2005.
Some 800 technical changes have been made to the codes in the 2010 versions, covering every section.
In Part 4, Structural Design, of the new National Building Code (NBC), for example, there are stricter requirements for live loads in sports arenas, grandstands and stadia that have fixed seats with backs. As well, these live load requirements have been extended to include churches, lecture halls and theatres.
In regard to wind loads, buildings with very long periods of vibration must now be designed by experimental methods — dynamic calculations are no longer acceptable. Changes have also been made to the requirements for earthquake design, including those for steel structures, static and dynamic procedures, and diaphragms.
Changes to Part 6, Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning, bring new requirements for building ventilation related to maximum levels of particulate matter, ground-level ozone and carbon monoxide.
Parts 5 Environmental Separation and Parts 6 HVAC require that engineers and designers consider radon protection in their designs.
In Part 3, Fire Protection, Occupant Safety and Accessibility, an important change is that windows must now have a mechanism or guard to prevent them from opening more than 100 mm (4 inches).
There are many significant changes affecting Part 9 Housing and Small Buildings, including new requirements for lateral loads, a simplified approach to low air and vapour permanence materials in building envelopes, and additional fire protections related to the proximity of buildings to each other.
Changes in the 2010 National Fire Code (NFC) include new requirements on demolition and construction sites. Adjacent buildings must now be protected from fires, and the requirements for access by the fire department have been improved.
To draw a clear line between the roles of the National Building Code and National Fire Code , technical requirements that relate to building design have been moved from the NFC into the NBC (spill control measures are the exception).
In the National Plumbing Code, pipe sizing requirements have been updated to reflect water-conserving appliances and fixtures.
The above are only a few of the changes to the codes. More detailed information will be available via webinars in February 2011. There will not be any cross-country seminars as was the case with the 2005 edition.
The codes are developed by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, which is a committee of volunteers working under the guidance of the National Research Council of Canada/Institute for Research in Construction in Ottawa. Bruce Clemmensen was chair of the CCBFC for the 2005-2010 code cycle.
The codes themselves will be available in print and digital versions at – but not until November 29.
For more details about the codes, visit


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