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Energy Codes

The National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) was developed by the National Research Council and Natural Resources Canada as part of the commitment to improving the energy efficiency of Canadian buildings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The NECB covers a wide range of building components and systems, including building envelope, electrical, and mechanical systems. All applications submitted after Oct. 31, 2016 must adhere to the new energy efficiency requirements, with no exceptions. Projects applying for a building permit on or after Nov. 1, 2016 are required to demonstrate compliance with the NECB or the Alberta Building Code, Section 9.36, as applicable. It was adopted as regulation in Alberta on Nov. 1, 2015. Subsequently, a transition phase was initiated and extended to Nov. 1, 2016. This transition phase allows the industry and the public time to familiarize themselves with the new requirements before the changes are mandatory as of Nov. 1, 2016.

Before You Start

If your building is not an assembly, care and detention medium or high hazard industrial building, or any other non-residential building less than or equal to 300m² in building area or three storeys in height, it may be within the scope of Section 9.36 of the Alberta Building Code titled “Energy Effieciency”. This section is specifically designed for houses and small buildings as defined in Section 9.36.1.3 of the Alberta Building Code and may be more appropriate for your application.

How Do I Comply with 9.36 Energy Efficiency

There are several methods that you can choose to demonstrate compliance with Section 9.36. of the Alberta Building Code. This is a critical decision for the design team and can affect both submission requirements and team members. The various compliance path types are prescriptive, trade-off, and performance compliance, outlined below.

Prescriptive Path

This path for Part 9 buildings, including homes, involves following the prescriptive requirements of Sub-sections 9.36.2. to 9.36.4 or for larger buildings Sections 4.2, 5.2, 6.2 and 7.2 of the NECB. This path is typically the simplest compliance path to follow, but may not be appropriate for all building types.

Prescriptive path checklists are available to help applicants identify specific articles in the code. It is important to note that prescriptive path compliance for any part of the NECB requires meeting all requirements in that part. If this is impossible or undesirable, another compliance path should be selected.

To get an idea of what kind of requirements to expect from a prescriptive path, you can review the general compliance checklists at the end of each section in the User Guide to the National Energy Code for Buildings 2011.

Trade-off Path

If you need more flexibility in your design, a trade-off path allows you to trade elements within the same part of the Energy Code and demonstrate an equivalent level of performance without meeting every prescriptive requirement found in the NECB. For example, if your design calls for more window area than prescribed by the code, you may be able to compensate by improving the insulation in the building envelope, or improving the thermal performance of the windows themselves.

Basically, the trade-off path is a calculation to demonstrate that while your proposed design may not exactly meet the prescriptive requirements found in the NECB overall, the amount of energy consumed will be the same or less than the following strict prescriptive compliance.

It is important to note that a trade-off path has limitations and rules on how to calculate what may be traded off within each Part. These limitations are found in Sections 3.3, 4.3, 5.3 and 6.3 of the NECB and for homes are found in 9.36.2.11. To make the calculations easier, there are downloadable trade-off path calculation tools to assist you with this compliance path.

Performance Path

For the most design flexibility, you should choose to use a performance path. This includes the detailed envelope trade-off path and building energy performance compliance paths. These approaches are found in subsection 3.3.4 and Part 8 of the NECB and in subsection 9.36.5. of the Alberta Building Code.

For this path you must simply demonstrate that the proposed design will not consume more energy than an equivalent building built to prescriptive requirements using an approved hourly building energy simulation tool (computer software). Performance compliance can allow for trade-offs between building systems, and might be the only compliance path available for certain building types.

Questions regarding any of the information above may be directed to Planning and Development, Safety Codes, at 780-743-7813 or email inspections@rmwb.ca.

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