Building Code

The Challenge Posed by Climate Change

Canada’s buildings and public infrastructure systems were not designed to accommodate the increase in frequency and severity of extreme weather events. As a result, Canadians will experience increasing health and safety concerns as well as financial burden due to damage and failure of buildings and infrastructure. Additionally, the cumbersome and opaque (provincial) development and review process has been slow to address the challenges posed by climate change.

Adaptation and Resilience

Adaptation is a state which involves actively adjusting our decisions, activities, and thinking in the context of climate change.
Resilience is a trait described as building the capacity for our civil, economic, social, and technological systems to absorb risks and impacts of climate change.


Support for the Buildings Sector

  • Under the Pan-Canadian Climate Change Framework (2016), the NRC is being provided with $40 million over a 5-year period to integrate climate resiliency into building and infrastructure design codes.
  • National Housing Co-investment Fund – Financial aid for new builds/renovations that achieve 25% reduction in energy use over national building codes or previous consumption.
  • $64.1 million in the research, development, and demonstration of net-zero energy ready technologies and practices.
  • $182 million over eight years under the Investing in Canada Program (2018) for the Energy Efficient Buildings Program: energy code development, data sharing, R&D, and market transformation strategies.
  • $48.4 million to support the development and implementation of building codes for existing buildings and new net-zero energy-ready buildings.


Anticipated Improvements to the Building Code

  • Building codes are now developed to be objective-based rather than prescriptive.
  • National Building Codes are updated by the NRC on a 5-year cycle with the next iteration being published in 2020.
  • Climate Data, on which the design codes are based, are being revised to also consider future climate states rather than just historic climate patterns.


What Needs to Change?

Transparency of the provincial code change process

  • Online postings of each meeting
  • Updates on code change proposals
  • List of committee members and their affiliations


  • 50% of inspectors are retiring in the next 5 years
  • Higher penalties for repeated code violations
  • Uniform application of code – training
  • Funding to municipal inspection agencies