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Fenestration Canada December 2016 – A look around the code environment

The changing code climate

December 5, 2016  By Jeff Baker

As I write this article I am sitting in a code meeting for the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) 2020 for houses and small buildings (Part 9).  That’s right, they are working on the 2020 code now. 

On Nov. 1, Alberta completed the adoption of the 2010 building code and on Jan. 1 Ontario will be the first to adopt a modified version of the 2015 NBCC with all other provinces somewhere in between Alberta and Ontario on the code timeline.

This will lead to the situation where the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) 2008 and 2011 will required in different provinces.  As of Jan. 1, 2017 NAFS-11-labelled products will be required in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.  NAFS-08-labelled products will be required in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Yukon, and Northwest Territories.

Other changes to codes across the country include changes to the energy code in Ontario SB-12 for residential and SB-10 for commercial, and changes to the energy requirements in the Vancouver building by-law.  British Columbia is also updating their energy efficiency act.


The standards that are referenced in the building and energy codes are also being updated.  The NAFS standard is being worked on to develop a 2017 version.  The Canadian supplement to NAFS has been playing catch up with NAFS. A 2016 version to align with NAFS 2011 will be published later this year.  The energy performance standards CSA A440.2, and NFRC 100 and 200 are all being updated.

The NBCC is updated on a five-year cycle and most provinces and territories also update their codes on a five-year timetable. The provincial and territorial codes all lag the national code and the lags varies by location from two to six years. The standards are updated on varying timetables: three year cycles for NAFS and the Canadian supplement for NAFS, NFRC 100 and 200; and a five-year cycle for CSA A440.2 (energy) and CSA A440.4 (installation).  These varying timetables make it very complicated for fenestration fabricators to stay current with codes and standards.

Fenestration Canada publishes a codes and standards update twice per year for their members to help them understand what it takes to comply across the country.  This update helps members keep up-to-date with the current requirements, but for many fabricators it is more important to plan for what is coming down the road. The only place I am aware of that future code requirements for fenestration are being discussed is at Fenestration Canada.  Fenestration Canada’s Technical Services Committee and Fabricator’s Council are being advised ahead of time and getting the opportunity to comment on changes to codes  and standards that will impact the manufacturing of fenestration products.

I am often asked about fabricators that are not in compliance with the code and we deal with them. First, it is very important for all fabricators to understand that even if the local building official is not checking for fenestration code compliance, the fabricator is still responsible to supply products that comply with the building code. Second, replacement of fenestration products in most provinces usually does not require a building permit, but the code does make it clear that replacement products do need to comply with the building code. In either case, where no one is checking for compliance, should anything go wrong and the fabricator ends up in court defending the performance of their product, they will lose if they can not produce test reports to substantiate their performance of their products.

In a recent Fenestration Canada technical seminar in British Columbia I asked the attendees if they believed there was a need for education of building officials. Even in B.C., where there has been a lot of education efforts, there was unanimous agreement that more education is needed. Fenestration Canada is working actively on education efforts for building officials. At this time in the evolution of building and energy codes fair and uniform enforcement of codes is needed to level the playing field for fenestration fabricators.

Jeff Baker is the technical consultant for the Fenestration Canada, chair of the NFRC board of directors, chair of the CSA A440 technical committee on fenestration performance, member of the Canadian Home Builders Association Technical Research Committee, and participates in several Canadian national building code committees.

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