Incorporating energy efficiency measures into a building is most economical during the initial design and construction phase, as retrofitting at a later stage proves to be significantly more costly. For this reason, CIET has developed Working with the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) to enable participants to comprehend the implications of the code and from the perspective of others.

Professionals who will benefit from this course include: building designers and architects, construction professionals, building inspectors, consultants, and provincial building authorities.

Another benefit of this training is that it has been designed to be valuable for professionals across Canada, regardless of which province they work in (and how their province has adopted the code).

To gain further insights into the NECB and how it’s being adopted, we consulted CIET Trainer, Justin Phill, to get his professional viewpoint. Justin is CIET’s lead trainer for CIET’s Working with the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) course.

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How are code compliance/ models being used by provinces?

The 2020 versions of the NFC, NPC, and NECB were published in March 2022. These codes are model codes, meaning that various authorities across Canada are free to adopt them with or without modifications. The authorities with the power to adopt these model codes are typically the provinces. As an example, Alberta uses a modified version of the NBC called the National Building Code (Alberta Edition), but has always adopted the National Energy Code for Buildings without modification since the energy code was first introduced in the province.

The model codes are published every 5 years, but provinces have the authority to adopt them at their discretion. Using Alberta again as an example, the 2015 NEBC was modified with Alberta-specific clauses and was adopted as the 2019 National Building Code (Alberta Edition) on November 1, 2019. The 2017 NECB was adopted at the same time.

How can we expect to see the NECB used in 2024?

In 2024 we can expect to see more provinces look at adopting the 2020 versions of the codes. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Manitoba are adopting the 2020 NECB at some point in 2024. BC is unique in its approach to energy codes, but is using NECB 2020 as a reference.

The new NECB introduces four Energy Performance Tiers. Tier 1 is expected to be a 5-15% improvement over an NECB 2017 compliant building depending on the building type, and Tier 4 is the level of performance required for a net zero ready building. The tiered system provides a roadmap to where our buildings need to be to meet the federal target of net zero ready buildings by 2030. We can expect to see more insulation, higher levels of airtightness, and more efficient mechanical systems as we adopt the new code and the higher tiers in the future.

What is the role of Municipal Building Officials with the code?

Municipalities are the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to enforce the codes that the provinces adopt. Safety Codes Officers (SCOs) review documents submitted by an applicant to demonstrate compliance with the NECB. The Safety Codes Officers ensure that all the necessary information is required, the NECB documents are consistent with other application documents (eg. architectural drawings), and the NECB requirements were followed.

How does the code affect contractors and related stakeholders?

There are three paths to comply with the NECB: a prescriptive path, a trade off path, and a performance path. The prescriptive path is simple, but does not allow trade offs if the design team can find efficiencies. In comparison, the performance path is the opposite, it allows trade offs between building systems but requires a registered professional (architect or engineer) to create energy models, which are virtual representations of the actual building, and a building constructed to the NECB.

It’s important to note that these energy models are just used to demonstrate relative energy savings to a baseline, and should not be used to determine actual utility costs or building energy consumption. There are many factors in reality that can alter the energy performance of a building, such as weather, malfunctioning equipment, and variations in occupancy.

What is the greatest misconception about the NECB?

Despite that limitation, the NECB is a helpful regulatory tool to continue to push the construction industry forward to innovate and create more energy efficient buildings to help meet our long term energy goals.

How can you learn to work with the code?

If you regularly work with the code (to comply with or enforce it), Working with the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) is an opportunity for you to further develop and understanding of the code and how it affects your line of work. The course covers the most important aspects of the NECB including: building envelops, lighting, HVAC, and water heating.

The next session of this 2-day course will take place on April 18-19, 2024.

Text reading: Working with the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB). Learn to define and comply with the requirements of the code, apply work methodology to ensure requirements are duly met & more.

 

The National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) is part of a suite of codes developed by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes. These codes include the National Building Code (NBC), the National Fire Code (NFC), the National Plumbing Code (NPC), and the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB). Codes are typically revised every 5 years.


Justin Phill

Justin Phill is a professional engineer, ASHRAE certified Building Energy Modeling Professional, and holds a LEED AP BD+C credential. His experience includes building HVAC design, sustainable consulting, energy modeling, and energy code policy. His passion is helping to build capacity toward emissions neutral buildings and sharing his knowledge with industry to help design better buildings.

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