ARCHIVED - Public Review on Proposed Changes to the National Model Codes — 2008

The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) is inviting Code users and stakeholders to participate in the review of proposed changes to the National Model Codes.

A national public review took place from September 29 to November 28, 2008 on proposed changes to the following National Model Codes:

The purpose of this public review is to:

  • provide Code users and stakeholders with a detailed look at proposed technical changes, and
  • seek comment on each proposed technical change as to whether it should be approved, altered, or rejected.

The public review closed on November 28, 2008, after which comments will no longer be accepted. The relevant standing committees of the CCBFC will review every comment that was received up to that date. The standing committees will then either withdraw the change, recommend that it be reviewed further for future consideration as a proposed change, or recommend that it be approved by the CCBFC, with or without modification.

National Building Code of Canada (NBC)

NBC – Parts 3 and 9

Residential Care Occupancy

A new occupancy classification designated Group B, Division 3, is being introduced. The proposed changes can be summarized as follows: a relaxation of the requirements for smaller care occupancies that have a limited number of occupants requiring care or treatment. In addition, depending on the nature of these clearly identified occupancies, the proposed changes introduce new construction, sprinklering, emergency power and fire alarm requirements

Spatial Separation between Buildings

Four sets of proposed changes have been developed to address the following issues: the relationship between fire service response time and limiting distance between buildings; cladding and sheathing materials used in wall construction; distribution of openings; and protection of soffits.

Fire Alarm Systems

Proposed changes relating to fire alarm systems are being introduced, which can be summarized as follows: requirements for smoke alarms in bedrooms; a common intelligibility scale of 0.70 for voice communication systems in buildings with over 1000 occupants; and the introduction of a temporal pattern for smoke alarms.

Exit Signs and Markings

Proposed requirements are being introduced for photoluminescent way-guidance systems in stairwells of buildings falling under Subsection 3.2.6. Current requirements regarding lettering for exit signs have been replaced with proposals for a green pictogram conforming to ISO standards.

NBC – Part 4

Wind Loads

The provision to take into account the dynamic effects of wind is being revised to capture very tall buildings and buildings with relatively long periods. Buildings with very long periods will be required to be designed by experimental methods.

Live Load Due to Use and Occupancy - Crane Loads

Crane loads are more explicitly defined, including a new load combination table for cranes.

Live Load Due to Use and Occupancy - Assembly Loads

The minimum live loads for arenas, grandstands and stadia take a more rational approach and specify a reduced live load for those portions of the space that have fixed seats with backs. This same principle is extended to the specified live loads for churches, lecture halls and theatres.

Live Load Due to Use and Occupancy - Vehicle Loads

The specified uniform and concentrated loads for vehicles are more specifically defined in terms of gross vehicle weight. The loaded area for concentrated loads is being revised to better reflect the actual loaded area.

Earthquake Design - Site Properties

The application of Site Classes A and B to sites with underlying softer material is being clarified and restricted. A relaxation on the determination of Site Class for short period structures on liquefiable soil is being introduced. New provisions have been drawn up requiring that slope instability be accounted for.

Earthquake Design - Irregularities

The seismic design provisions relating to irregularities are being revised to remove some restrictions for braced frames and moment-resisting frames based on research findings. Restrictions for post-disaster buildings are being augmented to prevent a reduction in stiffness from the top to the bottom of the building.

Earthquake Design - Steel Structures

Ductility-related and overstrength-related force modification factors and system restrictions are being introduced for cold-formed steel structures that are designed and detailed according to CAN/CSA-S136.

Earthquake Design - Static Procedure

The lower limit on the design force for wall, coupled wall and wall-frame systems is being revised from 2 seconds to 4 seconds based on analytical and research findings.

Earthquake Design - Dynamic Procedure

Provisions are being introduced that specify an upper limit on the design base shear for structures having Rd equal to or greater than 1.5 and located on sites other than Class F, as is done with the equivalent static load procedure.

Earthquake Design - Diaphragms

Certain steel roof deck and timber diaphragms are being allowed to yield provided they are designed and detailed to exhibit ductile behaviour.

Summary of Significant Proposed Changes - NBC – Part 5

Structural Loads

Environmental separator elements and assemblies exposed to the exterior that are required to resist structural loads are currently required to be designed for earthquake loads and effects, which can be very expensive. This requirement is not intended to apply to buildings that are not expected to be fully functional after a seismic event.

The Standing Committee on Environmental Separation is proposing that seismic effects be taken into account only for post-disaster buildings as these are required to have an adequate degree of functionality after the design event.

Windows, Doors and Skylights

The Canadian window/door/skylight industry is no longer supporting the referenced standards on the subject and has been supporting the development of the North American Fenestration Standard (Harmonized Standard) and its Canadian Supplement for more than six years. The support for the harmonization is motivated by cost savings for the manufacturers and test laboratories.

The Standing Committee on Environmental Separation is proposing to replace the currently referenced standards for windows, doors and skylights with the Harmonized Standard. However, the proposed change maintains the level of performance dictated by the currently referenced documents. Compliance with the Harmonized Standard and the related Canadian Supplement differs significantly from the standards previously referenced and will require substantial adjustment of the industry.

Sealant Standards

The currently referenced sealant material standards are severely outdated, and the testing and certification of these products is not based on these standards. More importantly, product groups that have been introduced into the market place during the last ten to fifteen years are not addressed.

The Standing Committee on Environmental Separation is proposing to replace the currently referenced standards for sealant with ASTM standards. The ASTM standards offer up-to-date specifications for the industry by addressing equivalent or similar performance criteria that express acceptable minimums with regard to the scope and the objectives of the National Building Code. Furthermore, the proposed ASTM standards address relevant product categories.

Summary of Significant Proposed Changes - NBC – Part 6

Currently there are no requirements regarding what constitutes acceptable air for building ventilation purposes with respect to the concentration of particles and gases. The past practice of ventilating buildings assumed that the air being introduced to the indoor building environment was acceptable. It has become evident that, in some areas in Canada, the quality of the air being introduced may not be acceptable to ventilate buildings unless particles and gasses are first removed or reduced. It has recently been estimated that 30% of Canadians are exposed to poor air quality via the building ventilation system. Since using contaminated air to ventilate a building may create adverse health effects on the occupants, the Task Group on the Development of Explicit Ventilation Requirements - NBC Part 6 has developed proposed Code changes to set maximum levels of particulate matter, ground-level ozone and carbon monoxide in air for building ventilation purposes. This will limit the probability that, as a result of the design of the ventilation system, a person in the building will be exposed to an unacceptable risk of illness due to inadequate indoor air quality (OH1.1).

Summary of Significant Proposed Changes - NBC – Part 9

Lateral Loads (Part 9)

A task group examined the requirements in Part 9 regarding lateral load resistance against wind and earthquake and investigated various related factors such as high seismic and wind load regions, and anchorage and bracing. The resultant proposed changes introduce the concept of braced wall panels. Other proposed requirements for fastening and framing details are based on local wind and seismic conditions.

New Notes for Tables A-9.10.3.1.A. and A-9.10.3.1.B.

Two proposed notes to the fire and sound resistance Tables clarify that the Tables were developed based on wood I-joists fabricated with phenolic adhesives that comply with the prescriptive requirements of the referenced CSA standards and that the application of the Tables depends on whether finger-joined lumber fabricated with a heat-resistant adhesive is used.

Windows, Doors and Skylights (Part 5 and Part 9)

A task group reviewed and compared the currently referenced standards for windows, doors and skylights with the North American Fenestration Standard (Harmonized Standard) and the Canadian Supplement. The resultant proposed changes to Sections 9.6. and 9.7. are aimed at maintaining the level of performance dictated by the currently referenced documents. However, compliance with the Harmonized Standard and the related Canadian Supplement differs significantly from the standards previously referenced and will require substantial adjustment of the industry. As the Harmonized Standard and the Canadian Supplement now address doors and skylights in addition to windows, a substantial reorganization of Sections 9.6. and 9.7. became necessary.

Sealant Standards (Part 5 and Part 9)

The sealant material standards currently referenced in Article 9.27.4.2. are severely outdated, and the testing and certification of these products is not based on these standards. More importantly, product groups that have been introduced into the market place during the last ten to fifteen years are not addressed. The proposed ASTM standards offer up-to-date specifications, contain equivalent or similar performance criteria, and address relevant product categories.

Secondary Suites in Houses

A task group evaluated the requirements that currently apply to buildings with not more than 2 dwelling units and has recommended revisions to address secondary suites in Part 9. Secondary suites are often created by retrofits in existing single-family dwellings, which are sometimes referred to as accessory apartments or "in-law suites."

The proposed changes limit the size of secondary suites relative to the size of the main dwelling unit in houses. Some proposed requirements are relaxations compared to similar requirements for dwelling units, some are more stringent, and some are regarded as trade-offs. Many proposed changes simply insert "house" into requirements that previously only applied to dwelling units alone. "House" and "secondary suite" are both proposed to be defined terms.

Low Permeance Materials in the Building Envelope

The requirements in Article 9.25.1.2. were significantly revised in the 2005 National Building Code. A task group has reviewed the approach chosen for the 2005 National Building Code.

The resultant proposed changes introduce a simplified approach to requiring the correct position and properties for low air and vapour permeance materials in building envelopes. Many of the proposed changes attempt to clarify the structure of Section 9.25.

Residential Care Occupancy (Part 3 and Part 9)

A new occupancy classification designated Group B, Division 3, is being introduced. The proposed changes can be summarized as follows: a relaxation of the requirements for smaller care occupancies that have a limited number of occupants requiring care or treatment. In addition, depending on the nature of these clearly identified occupancies, the proposed changes introduce new construction, sprinklering, emergency power and fire alarm requirements.

Spatial Separation between Buildings (Part 3 and Part 9)

Four sets of proposed changes have been developed to address the following issues: the relationship between fire service response time and limiting distance between buildings; cladding and sheathing materials used in wall construction; distribution of openings; and protection of soffits.

Fire Alarm Systems (Part 3 and Part 9)

Proposed changes relating to fire alarm systems are being introduced, which can be summarized as follows: requirements for smoke alarms in bedrooms; a common intelligibility scale of 0.70 for voice communication systems in buildings with over 1000 occupants; and the introduction of a temporal pattern for smoke alarms.

Exit Signs and Markings (Part 3 and Part 9)

Proposed requirements are being introduced for photoluminescent way-guidance systems in stairwells of buildings falling under Subsection 3.2.6. Current requirements regarding lettering for exit signs have been replaced with proposals for a green pictogram conforming to ISO standards.

Summary of Significant Proposed Changes - National Fire Code of Canada (NFC)

Leak Detection and Monitoring

Several proposed changes dealing with the method of leak detection, and monitoring and handling of certain dangerous goods are being introduced. Revisions to existing requirements as well as new requirements are being introduced relating to the detection and monitoring of storage tanks, sumps, and piping systems containing flammable and combustible liquids.

Storage of Flammable and Combustible Liquids in Buildings

Several changes are being proposed to better protect the storage of flammable and combustible liquids within buildings by limiting the quantity of product and implementing new passive and active fire protective measures.

Summary of Significant Proposed Changes - National Plumbing Code of Canada (NPC)

Water Pipe Sizing

Work was undertaken to review new materials and technology to determine if changes were needed to the pipe sizing information in the NPC. It was concluded that the information in the NPC needed to be updated since the use of water-conserving appliances and fixtures in buildings and facilities is becoming standard practice. This results in a lower water usage, which has an impact on the water pipes delivering water to the building or facility.

The Standing Committee on Building and Plumbing Services developed material, which resulted in a number of changes to Sections 2.6 and 2.7. and Appendix A of Division B.

Combined PCFs are available in PDF file format

  • National Building Code of Canada (NBC) (PDF format - 11 MB)
  • National Fire Code of Canada (NFC) (PDF format - 1.6 MB)
  • National Plumbing Code of Canada (NPC) (PDF format - 7.6 MB)

To receive the proposed changes for this public review, please contact Codes Canada.

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