ARCHIVED – Canada benefits from NRC participation in international code development group v10n1-4

Volume 10, Number 1, March 2005

Archived Content

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The next edition of Canada's national model codes (NBC, NFC and NPC) will be published this summer. In addition to the technical changes normally included in any new edition, there is another important feature of these codes: they will be published in an objective-based format.

Canada's move to objective-based codes has been facilitated by its involvement in the Inter-jurisdictional Regulatory Collaboration Committee (IRCC), a group of eight countries engaged in various forms of performance-based regulatory reforms related to buildings. This group, in which NRC acts on behalf of Canada, is very active on the international scene and plays a key role in the development of the concept of performance as it applies to building regulations.

To learn more about the conversion of the national model codes into an objective-based format please consult the national model codes Web site and see also previous issues of Construction Innovation:

Volume 3 Number 1, Fall 1997
Volume 3 Number 4, Summer 1998
Volume 4 Number 1, Fall 1998
Volume 4 Number 4, Fall 1999
Volume 6 Number 1, Winter 2001

IRCC member countries are Canada, United States, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Other countries have recently expressed interest in joining IRCC.

NRC's involvement in IRCC and other international initiatives has helped the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) develop Canada's unique objective-based codes concept. Although the terms used are different, the Canadian concept has much in common with the performance-based codes developed in other countries. In both cases, the codes offer a clear articulation of the objectives and functional statements (requirements) in a format that makes them easier to apply to existing buildings and innovative designs. And in both cases, the objectives and functional statements are of a qualitative nature, which should facilitate the introduction and evaluation of performance-based solutions.

One clear benefit from this compatibility of the Canadian building regulatory system with that of other countries will be the facilitation of international trade and the export of Canadian products, services and technologies.

Collaboration between IRCC members also helps all member countries address difficult code and regulatory issues that may arise in their own jurisdictions. For example, at its last meeting, IRCC members shared information about revolving doors-the safety issues and how to address them-which helped one of the member countries deal with serious incidents through the development of appropriate code requirements. By sharing information about hot water temperature regulations in their countries, IRCC members will also help a new CCBFC task group examine the scalding and legionella issues associated with hot water delivery in Canadian buildings.

As well, IRCC acts as a catalyst to foster discussion on broad policy issues related to building codes and regulations. An IRCC policy summit on performance-based codes in 2003 in Washington, DC addressed various issues, including the cost-effectiveness of performance-based regulations, the danger of causing unintentional consequences and the need for new regulatory systems to monitor outcomes and to be flexible in terms of adapting to changing conditions.

A summit being organized for September 2005 will focus on sustainability. If you would like to know more about IRCC or this summit, please consult IRCC's Web site

For more information, please contact Denis Bergeron at (613) 993-5659, fax (613) 952-4040, or e-mail