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Code development approach prioritizes harmony

Nov 23, 2022 | Public | 0 comments


A new collaborative code development approach is aimed at achieving faster and frictionless Canada-wide adoption of the most current standards for new construction, fire safety, plumbing and energy efficiency. The Canadian Table for Harmonized Construction Codes Policy and the Canadian Board for Harmonized Construction Codes will bring federal, provincial and territorial representatives together to jointly set strategic priorities and to develop, approve and maintain codes.

The new governance structure arises from the 2020 Canadian Free Trade Agreement to dismantle or reduce administrative redundancies and inter-provincial trade barriers. It replaces the federally directed framework of the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes over the past three decades, in which decision-makers developed model codes that were then handed off to the provinces and territories to be further studied — and potentially revised — before adoption.

“Our government is adopting a more collaborative approach with provinces and territories to harmonize construction codes across the country,” says François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “The new national model codes development system will ensure there is more consistency in innovative building techniques such as helping to meet energy efficiency standards.”

That’s considered particularly integral to achieving Canada’s 2030 target for a 40 to 45 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to 2005 levels and the ultimate goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, released earlier this year, identifies codes as a key element to help realize envisioned reductions in the buildings sector. However, the recently released 2022 Provincial Energy Efficiency Scorecard concludes that current piecemeal provincial policies are making lacklustre progress toward to those very ambitious objectives.

“We are optimistic that these changes will help in this regard,” notes James Lockhart, research manager, buildings, with Efficiency Canada, the producer of the scorecard. “Increased collaboration between all levels of government, greater consideration of the relationship between code development and implementation of those codes, and clear policy requirements and targets are critical to ensuring that all new buildings are on a path to net zero energy and emissions.”

Iain Stewart, president of National Research Council of Canada, and Laurier Donais, Saskatchewan’s Deputy Minister of Government Relations, will serve as the inaugural co-chairs of the new Codes Policy Table. The National Research Council will also co-chair the new Codes Board with a peer from the provincial/territorial delegates, while every province and territory will be represented on both entities.

“This will provide the framework for provinces, territories and Canada to work collectively to meet the needs of all Canadians in a timely manner,” Donais says.

“We look forward to continuing to work with provinces and territories in the transformed national model codes development system, to make advancements in key code priority areas such as climate change,” Stewart concurs.

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