2015 editions of Codes Canada publications: Significant technical changes

Table of contents

The National Model Construction Codes, now collectively called Codes Canada publications, contain almost 600 technical changes approved by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes. These changes make the provisions in the four model codes clearer and easier to apply while introducing new concepts and expanding the codes to new areas. Summarized below are the most significant technical changes. In coordination with the provinces and territories, NRC offered code seminars in various cities across the country on these technical changes starting in early 2017.

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National Building Code of Canada (NBC)

Part 3: Fire Protection, Occupant Safety and Accessibility

6-Storey Combustible Construction
The 2015 edition of the NBC allows the construction of 6-storey residential, business and personal services buildings using traditional combustible construction materials. Changes to Part 3 address the objectives of safety, fire, and structural protection of buildings.

Fire Protection: Minimum Fire Rating of Cables in Air Plenums
The minimum rating increases for optical fibre cables and electrical wires and cables used for the transmission of voice, sound or data installed in a plenum. It is now consistent with optical fibre cables and electrical wires and cables in both combustible and noncombustible construction.

Fire Protection: Penetration by Electrical and Non-Electrical Outlet Boxes
The NBC 2015 clarifies conditions permitting electrical outlet boxes to penetrate a fire separation, or a membrane forming part of an assembly required to have a fire-resistance rating, without the need for a fire stop.

Fire Protection: Self-Service Storage Buildings
A new Section addresses the fire protection requirements for self-service storage buildings that are not more than one storey in building height, with external access only. Multi-storey buildings and interior access applications will be considered for the 2020 edition of the Codes Canada.

Fire Protection: Protection of Foamed Plastics
Several clarifications are introduced to protect foamed plastics in buildings required to be of combustible or noncombustible construction. Combustible insulation is differentiated from foamed plastic insulation material, while retaining the same protection requirements.

Fire Protection: Combustible Components for Exterior Walls
The use of combustible cladding is permitted on an exterior wall assembly in a building required to be of noncombustible construction. The requirements for the protection of that exterior wall assembly were clarified to account for various cladding materials and the use of combustible components. The new requirements confirm that the fire exposure to the exterior wall assembly comes from within the building and that the thermal barrier is required to protect the exposed combustible insulation within the building. It is also confirmed that the referenced standard measuring the flame spread along the exterior face of the tested wall assembly is applicable to any exterior wall assembly in a building required to be of noncombustible construction, including Exterior Insulation Finishing System (EIFS).

Fire Protection: Installation of Smoke Dampers
To reduce the likelihood of smoke spreading into egress paths, smoke dampers or combination fire/smoke dampers are now required in ducts or air-transfer openings when, in specific locations, they penetrate an assembly required to be a fire separation.

Fire Protection: Installation of Closures
Installation of a leakage-rated door assembly is now required in fire separations that protect or separate specific areas.

Fire Protection: Hold-Open Devices
To facilitate understanding and application of hold-open devices on closures in fire separations, the provisions were clarified using a top-down hierarchy.

Use and Egress: Mezzanines and Openings through Floor Assemblies – Construction Requirements
The limitation for noncombustible construction in the presence of interconnected floor space is removed.

Use and Egress: Exit Width of Principal Entrances
The principal entrance serving a bar or nightclub that is not sprinklered throughout must account for at least one half of the required occupant load.

Use and Egress: Handrails for Aisles with Steps
Handrails are now required in assembly occupancies in locations where aisles incorporate steps

Use and Egress: Emergency crossover access to floor areas and distance between exterior discharges of exits
Requirements on emergency crossover access are updated and a provision added on the distance between exterior discharges of exits. Stairs, Ramps, Handrails and Guards: Dimensions and Configurations – Dimensions of Tapered Treads in a Curved Flight Requirements for the construction of tapered treads are introduced for stairs other than required exit stairs in Part 3 and Part 9 buildings and the terminology is updated for consistency.

Stairs, Ramps, Handrails and Guards: Fall Protection – Design to Limit Climbing
Parameters for design to limit climbing are relaxed to increase design choices.

Stairs, Ramps, Handrails and Guards: Fall Protection
The notion of a "graspable portion" for handrails with a non-circular cross-section is removed; the height of guards serving a flight of exit stairs in Part 3 and Part 9 is harmonized and a unique guard height is established for Part 3 buildings; and, the use of open risers in public stairs is proscribed.

Many design requirements on accessibility are updated, all common criteria on accessible controls are gathered in the same provision and additional grab bars are required to enhance safety. Part of the design requirements of CSA B651, "Accessible Design for the Built Environment", are permitted to be used as an alternative to Section 3.8.3. of the NBC.

Part 4: Structural Design

Limit States Design: Live plus Snow Combination
The live load plus snow load combination is modified.

Loads on Guards
Loads on Guards are modified including loads on walls acting as guards and loads on vehicle guardrails.

Snow Loads
Guidance on snow loads previously provided in the Commentary is transferred to the body of the Code. Provisions for snow loads are updated, including calculation of the basic roof snow load factor, specific weight of snow, calculation of the accumulation factor, and the calculation for loads due to sliding snow. A provision is also added concerning ice loading on lattice structures.

Wind Loads
Guidance on wind loads previously provided in the Commentary is transferred to the body of the Code. Provisions for wind loads are updated, including the introduction of a separate topographic factor and the introduction of specific requirements for wind tunnel testing in accordance with ASCE/SEI-49, "Wind Tunnel Testing for Buildings and Other Structures." Reference dimensions used for determination of loads on cladding have been redefined irrespective of wind direction. Additionally, a procedure is introduced for exterior ornamentation, equipment and appendages.

Structural Glass Design
Specific requirements on structural glass design are added including reference to ASTM E1300, "Practice for Determining Load Resistance of Glass in Buildings." Repair Garages Specific requirements are added for repair garages. Earthquake Load and Effects: Seismically Isolated Structures Requirements are added for seismically isolated structures (also referred to as base isolated structures).

Earthquake Load and Effects: Supplemental Energy Dissipation
Requirements are added for structures with supplementary energy dissipation systems (also referred to as supplemental damping).

Earthquake Load and Effects: Low Hazard Zones
Requirement that consider earthquake forces and effects are extended to all locations in Canada. A separate simple and easily applied methodology is provided for low hazard earthquake zones.

Earthquake Load and Effects: Inclined Columns
Requirements for determination of seismic loads and their effects are added for buildings with gravity-induced lateral demands on the structural system.

Earthquake Load and Effects: Seismicity
Values of seismic hazard in the seismic hazard model are updated for various locations and period based foundation factors are introduced. The method for determination of design spectral acceleration is revised such that the higher mode factors conform to the new hazard. The hazard cap is revised for both the static procedure and the dynamic procedure.

Earthquake Loads and Effects: Single storey buildings with steel or wood diaphragms
Provisions related to time period and diaphragm forces are added for single storey buildings with steel or wood roof diaphragms

Earthquake Loads and Effects: Elevators and Racking Storage Systems
Requirements are added to account for the seismic effects and anchorage of elevators, escalators and steel pallet storage racks.

Earthquake Load and Effects: Glass Glazing systems in buildings
Provisions are added to account for effects of lateral displacements of a building's glazing systems in an earthquake.

Earthquake Loads and Effects: Foundation provisions
Requirements related to foundation displacements and overturning resistance are updated.

6 Storey Combustible Construction
The 2015 edition of the National Building Code allows the construction of 6-storey residential, business, and personal services buildings using traditional combustible construction materials. Changes to Part 4 address the seismic force resisting systems that apply to 5 and 6 storey combustible construction.

Part 5: Environmental Separation

Curtain Walls, Window Walls, Storefronts and Glazed Architectural Structures
Minimum performance requirements, as well as laboratory and in-situ testing procedures, are established. Guidance on how to properly identify these products and their applications are provided in the Notes to Part 5.

Exterior Insulation and Finishing System (EIFS)
A new subsection in the Notes to Part 5 addresses EIFS and provides guidance on EIFS design and construction.

Wind Uplift Resistance of Membrane Roofing Assemblies
A testing requirement is provided for the evaluation of dynamic wind uplifts resistance of membrane-roofing systems by adding reference to CSA A123.21. The applicability of the standard and its limitations, as well as an engineering approach to extrapolate test data, is provided in the Notes to Part 5.

Vegetated Roofing Systems
Testing requirements of assemblies for resistance to root and rhizome penetration is provided by adding reference to ANSI/GRHC/SPRI VR-1.

Sound Transmission
The Apparent Sound Transmission Class (ASTC) is introduced to take into account flanking sound transmission in addition to the direct sound transmission. This includes three compliance paths, one of which is a new calculation method with the option of either a detailed or a simplified method for calculating the ASTC rating.

Surface and Ground Water
The sections on surface water and moisture in the ground are combined and applications clarified for waterproofing and dampproofing. In addition, some outdated material standards are replaced with more current ASTM standards while outdated installation/application standards are deleted.

Part 6: Heating, Ventilating and Air-conditioning

The provisions in Part 6 are reorganized into a more logical sequence and divided according to major mechanical elements. To facilitate access to information, general provisions are now grouped at the front end, followed by system-specific provisions.

Outdoor Design Conditions
Measures to reduce the level of the air contaminants of concern present in the outdoor air used for ventilation purposes are clarified. Source data for outdoor air quality for ventilation are updated to reflect new maximum acceptable levels.

Outdoor Design Conditions: Cleaning Devices
A requirement is added that incorporates measures to reduce the level of air contaminants of concern present in the outdoor air of the local area of the building site, transferred into the indoor environment through the ventilation system.

Drain Pans
A requirement is added to address the proper installation of an adequate drain pan where condensate may be present.

Separation Distances of Exhausts and Outdoor Air Intakes
Minimum distances of outdoor air intakes from sources of contaminants are specified, as are the distances of the discharge of vented products of combustion from the building.

Part 9: Housing and Small Buildings

New Residential Fire Warning Systems (ULC-S 540)
An additional acceptable solutions is added to address the use and installation of residential fire warning systems.

Stairs, Ramps, Handrails and Guards: Run of Stairs Serving Single Dwelling Units
The dimension of the run in stairs serving single dwelling units is increased.

Stairs, Ramps, Handrails and Guards: Fall Protection – Continuity of Handrails
The concept of graspability of a handrail and its continuity throughout the length of a ramp or a stair flight is clarified and clearer guidance is introduced for the design of handrails with a non-circular cross-section.

Stairs, Ramps, Handrails and Guards: Fall Protection – Design to Limit Climbing
Parameters for design to limit climbing are relaxed to increase design choices and the overly prescriptive requirements are deleted. Information in the Notes to Part 9 is clarified.

Exterior Insulation and Finishing System (EIFS)
A new subsection to address material and installation EIFS is added and further guidance on EIFS design and construction is provided in the Notes to Part 9.

Referenced Standards for Roofing, Dampproofing, and Waterproofing Materials and Installation
Several out of date standards have been replaced with current, more applicable standards covering a variety of material types and applications.

Sound Transmission
The Apparent Sound Transmission Class (ASTC) is introduced to take into account flanking sound transmission in addition to the direct sound transmission. This includes three compliance paths, one of which is an enhanced prescriptive method that uses existing STC ratings and additional prescriptive requirements to reduce noise transferred through flanking wall and floor assemblies.

Appendix C

Climatic Data: Snow
Updates to the ground snow load values, Ss, resulted in no change for about 84% of the locations, while it increased in 11% of the locations, and decreased in 4%. The greatest proportion of increases is for locations in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

Earthquake Load and Effects: Revisions to Appendix C and Table C-3 – Seismic Design Data for Selected Locations in Canada
As a result of new Ground Motion Prediction Equations (GMPE), seismic hazard values in NBC 2015 are updated for most locations in Canada. The Cascadia subduction source probabilistic model is added to seismic hazard for areas of western Canada. Fault sources, such as those in Haida Gwaii and the Yukon, are explicitly included. Updated values for Seismic Data in Proposed Table C-3, Design Values, are provided for selected locations in Canada.

Appendix D

Wood and Steel Framed Walls, Floors and Roofs Fire: Component Additive Method – Resistance Rating:
The application of the current Tables found in Appendix D-2.3. are expanded, with new materials and assemblies of materials, including structural members.

National Fire Code

6 Storey Combustible Construction
The 2015 edition of the National Fire Code includes a new Subsection with additional requirements that apply during construction of 5 and 6 storey combustible buildings.

Dangerous Goods Classification
The NFC now harmonizes the dangerous goods classification system with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification, and introduces the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) into the NFC's dangerous goods section. The new harmonized system of classification in the NFC categorizes dangerous goods by types of hazards, harmonizing communications, labelling and safety data sheets. This substantial change improves the availability of information on physical hazards, compatibility and toxicity from chemicals in order to enhance the protection of human health, fire safety and the environment during the handling, transport and use of these chemicals. These new requirements set the precedence of dangerous goods classes and provide a description of the GHS classification system. Placards conforming to Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG) regulations can once again be used to identify the hazards associated with the product classified under WHMIS.

Fire Protection: Storage Limit of Flammable and Combustible Liquid in Self-Service Storage Buildings
The maximum quantities are defined for flammable and combustible liquids permitted to be stored in self-service storage buildings.

Storage Tanks: Storage Tank Repair and Refurbishment
References to withdrawn certification programs (ULC-S601(A), ULC-S603(A), ULC-S615(A), ULC-S630(A)) are removed and references to new standards are added for reusing and refurbishing storage tanks.

Hot Works: Location of Operations
Guidance for the use of high- and low-tech inspection methods is provided, along with alternatives to the final inspection four hours following hot works. The protection of bitumen kettles during roofing applications is further refined.

Dangerous Goods: Laboratories – Placard Use in Laboratories
The requirement is clarified for placards that identify the presence of dangerous goods in laboratories.

Dangerous Goods: Laboratories – Interlocking of the Enclosure Exhaust Ventilation System with the Fire Alarm System
The enclosure exhaust ventilation system must not be interlocked with fire detection, fire alarm or makeup air system.

Dangerous Goods: Laboratories – Dangerous Goods Maximum Quantities
The quantities of all dangerous goods stored in a laboratory are limited, including the quantities 'in use' during normal operations.

Dangerous Goods: Laboratories – Containers in Laboratories
Containers used for the storage of or processing of flammable or combustible liquids in a laboratory should conform to Subsection 4.2.3.requirements, Containers and Portable Tanks, of Division B of the NFC.

National Plumbing Code

Water-use Efficiency: Supply Fittings and Shower Heads
Mandatory water-use efficiency requirements are added for supply fittings and shower heads. Maximum flow rate requirements are specified in litres/min for lavatory supply fittings, kitchen supply fittings (except those in industrial, commercial or institutional kitchens) and shower heads.

Water-use Efficiency: Plumbing Fixtures
Mandatory water-use efficiency requirements are added for water closets (residential, industrial, commercial and institutional) and urinals. Maximum water usage is listed in litres per flush.

Plumbing: Stainless Steel Inclusion
Ferrous pipes and fittings (stainless steel) are included in the NPC as an acceptable material which could be used in plumbing systems. Referenced standards are listed for the performance of stainless steel plumbing components such as piping, tubing, butt weld pipe fittings, pipe flanges and threaded fittings. The grade of these plumbing components is specified and the specific locations in the building where stainless steel pipes and tubes are permitted to be installed are listed.

Plumbing: Welding of Stainless Steel Joints
Requirements are added for stainless steel welded joints. This includes a reference to ASME B31.9 "Building Services Piping".

Plumbing: Insulation of Stainless Steel Supports
To help prevent galvanic corrosion, requirements are included for hangers and supports used with stainless steel pipes or tubes.

Plumbing: Stainless Steel – Maximum Horizontal Spacing
Requirements are added that specify the maximum horizontal spacing of supports for stainless steel piping.

National Energy Code for Buildings

NECB Application

During the development of energy efficiency provisions for housing and small buildings in the National Building Code (NBC Section 9.36.), it was determined that NECB requirements were appropriate and an acceptable compliance option for certain small buildings. Changes to the NECB 2015 permit Code users to apply NECB requirements to housing and small buildings.

Part 3

Above-Ground Opaque Building Assemblies in Semi-Heated Buildings
Prescriptive thermal requirements of above-ground opaque building assemblies are provided for semi-heated buildings.

Air Leakage
Maximum air leakage rates and testing procedures are specified for air barrier assemblies in opaque building assemblies that act as environmental separators.

Part 4

Interior Lighting Power Density
Update are included for the lighting power density (LPD) values used to calculate the interior lighting power allowance in both the space-by-space method and building area method.

Interior Lighting Controls:
The format for providing separate controls for special lighting not included in Table is updated and automatic control requirements for lighting in guest rooms and suites in commercial temporary lodgings are introduced.

Part 5

Relation between Prescriptive Requirements and the Energy Efficiency Regulations
A number of changes were made to improve the clarity and provide background information on the Energy Efficiency Regulations (EERegs) and the CSA standards listed in Table and Table in relation to the NECB.