Objective-based Codes

Question 1:

What is an objective-based Code?

Answer to question 1:

An objective-based Code includes objectives or goals that the Code is meant to achieve. In an objective-based Code, every technical requirement achieves one or more of that Code’s stated objectives (e.g. Safety, Health, Accessibility, Fire and Structural Protection of Buildings, Environment). Applying the provisions in the Codes is one option for compliance, since they meet one or more of the Code’s stated objectives by default. The other option is the use of alternative solutions. These must achieve at least the same level of performance and satisfy the same objective(s) assigned to the associated Code provisions.

Question 2:

When did objective-based Codes come into effect?

Answer to question 2:

The National Building, Fire and Plumbing Codes were first published in objective-based form in 2005, following extensive consultation with the provinces and territories. The 2010 Codes follow the same approach, as does the 2011 National Energy Code for Buildings.

Question 3:

Aren’t objective-based Codes just performance-based Codes?

Answer to question 3:

No, they are not. Although the Codes have some performance requirements, and there is an ongoing evolution toward adding more of them, they will remain mostly prescriptive for many more years.

Question 4:

Are objective-based Codes part of Smart Regulation?

Answer to question 4:

Yes, they are. Objective-based Codes are Codes with all of the “whys” spelled out, so that code users know exactly what is important and why. This should facilitate the development of alternative solutions that meet minimum Code requirements. The additional information should also increase understanding of Code requirements and facilitate conformance assessment.

Question 5:

Can a requirement be added to the Codes that is not related to one of the stated objectives?

Answer to question 5:

The simple answer is "no". In an objective-based Code, every requirement is related to at least one of that code's stated objectives.

Of course the existing objectives of the National Model Construction Codes are not necessarily frozen for all time. Other objectives may be added and one or more of the existing objectives could be dropped. However, this would constitute a major change and would only happen if extensive consultation with the provinces and territories and other stakeholders indicates a broad consensus that such an expansion or contraction of the Codes' scope should occur. This process is now taking place with the development of water use efficiency requirements and objectives.