Updating climatic data and loads for codes, standards and guides

- Ottawa, Ontario

Current codes, standards and guides for the design and evaluation of buildings and core public infrastructure (B&CPI) are based on historical climatic data, which do not take into account the impact of climate change. In addition, current design for extreme climatic hazards is based on the concept of uniform hazard, which defines climatic data with geographically uniform probabilities of exceedance. As a result of the changing climate and the use of the uniform hazard design approach, the risk of failure of B&CPI could be increasing, which may require costly adaptation to ensure acceptable risk levels.

To address these challenges, the National Research Council (NRC) is leading an initiative on Climate Resilient Buildings and Core Public Infrastructure, to provide updates to the climatic data, associated climatic loads, load combinations and new climate-resilience provisions that will be implemented in the future editions of the codes, standards and guides, including the National Building Code, the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings, and the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code.

In addition to the updates to the climatic data and new climate resilience provisions, sets of proposed code changes and provisions will be prepared and will include the development of:

  1. A uniform risk-based design approach to replace the current uniform hazard-based design approach, in order to achieve acceptable and uniform reliability levels across Canada;
  2. Future climatic data, loads and load combinations to include the impacts of climate change on temperature, precipitation and wind ; and
  3. An approach to incorporate the non-stationarity of climatic data and target reliability specifications within a given time period or design life.

By updating the climatic data in the codes, standards and guides, the NRC and its partners plan to ensure that the design of new B&CPI will be climate resilient and thus will reduce their risk of failure and minimize the need for costly climate change adaptation within their lifecycles. In addition, the NRC will also be developing guides for the evaluation and rehabilitation of existing B&CPI to ensure acceptable resilience in a changing climate. In addition, new guidelines will be developed for the evaluation and retrofitting of existing B&CPI in a changing climate.

It is expected that these changes would be ready for review and implementation in the National Building Code through the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes process during the 2025 building code cycle. For the case of highway bridges, it is expected that these changes would be ready for review and for implementation through the CSA Group process during the 2024 Canadian highway bridge design code cycle.

This NRC-led initiative will lead to improved safety, service ability and durability of Canadian B&CPI and will minimize their lifecycle costs.

Related links

Contact us

Christopher Pezoulas, Director, Business Development
Email: Christopher.Pezoulas@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca