The National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) aims to help save on energy bills, reduce peak energy demand, and improve the quality and comfort of the building’s indoor environment. Through each code development cycle, the NECB intends to implement a tiered approach toward Canada’s goal for new buildings, as presented in the “Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change”, of achieving ‘Net Zero Energy Ready’ buildings by 2030.

The NECB is available for free online; published by the National Research Council (NRC) and developed by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes in collaboration with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). CWC maintains ongoing participation in the development and updating of the NECB.

The NECB sets out technical requirements for energy efficient design and construction and outlines the minimum energy efficiency levels for code compliance of all new buildings. The NECB applies to all building types, except housing and small buildings, which are addressed under Clause 9.36 of the National Building Code of Canada. The NECB offers three compliance paths: prescriptive, trade-off and performance.

The most cost-effective time to incorporate energy efficiency measures into a building is during the initial design and construction phase. It is much more expensive to retrofit later. This is particularly true for the building envelope, which includes exterior walls, windows, doors and roofing. The NECB addresses considerations such as air infiltration rates (air leakage) and thermal transmission of heat through the building envelope. Considering the different climate zones in Canada, the NECB also provides requirements related to maximum overall (effective) thermal transmittance for above-ground opaque wall assemblies and effective thermal resistance of assemblies in contact with ground, e.g., permanent wood foundations. In addition, the NECB specifies the maximum fenestration and door to wall ratio based on the climate zone in which the building in located.

As energy efficiency requirements for buildings are increased, wood is a natural solution to pair with other insulating and weatherizing materials to develop buildings with high operational energy performance and provide consistent indoor comfort for occupants.

For further information on the NECB, visit the Codes Canada at the National Research Council Canada.