Manitoba Building Codes and Standards
- What do Manitoban’s need to know about Canada’s first national tiered building codes?
- How do these codes differ from conventional codes?
- And,what can we do to lay the groundwork for successful adoption and compliance?
In 1997,Canada createdthe Model National Energy Code for Buildings,its first national standard for building energy performance.Fourteenyears later, the federal government updated it and renamed it the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB). The 2011 NECB achieved a 25% performance improvement over its predecessor. The 2015 NECB included changes such as new thermal requirements for semi–heated buildings, and maximum allowable lighting power densities harmonized with the ASHRAE 90.1– 2013 standard. This version had an average annual energy savings of 2.5% over the 2011 NECB.The National Research Council estimates that the 2017 version of the NECB achieves an average annual savings of 7.8% to 11.9% above the 2015 version. (source: Efficiency Canada)
Housing and Small Buildings
The Manitoba Building Code is adopted as regulation 31/2011 under the Buildings and Mobile Homes Act. Section 9.36 applies of the Manitoba Code applies to houses and smaller buildings and follows the 2012 National Building Code’s provisions for energy efficiency. The energy efficiency provisions came into force on April 1, 2016.
The Manitoba Energy Code for Buildings (MECB) was created through regulation 213/2013 under the Buildings and Mobile Homes Act. It applies to “larger buildings” (greater than 600 square meters of floor area). The MECB follows the 2011 National Energy Code of Canada. This code became effective on December 1, 2014.
Stretch or Step Codes
No stretch or step codes have been adopted in Manitoba.
Net-zero energy ready commitment
No formal commitment to adopt net-zero energy ready building codes.
Manitoba is the only province that did not adopt the 2015 codes and so are the only ones building using the 2011 codes.
- higher insulation values on building envelope (walls, ceilings, fenestration, doors, etc)
- higher HVAC equipment energy efficiencies
- higher domestic hot water system equipment energy efficiencies
More details include:
- Energy codes serve to provide a uniform standard which influences how buildings are designed and built, offering several pathways; meet prescriptive requirements, evaluate trade-offs, or computer modelling of energy performance to show compliance.
- Each new release of the NECB serves to promote energy efficiency by incrementally raising the minimum performance thresholds of elements such as the windows, insulation and efficiency of heating, cooling and ventilation equipment.
- Manitoba currently uses the Manitoba Energy Code for Buildings (MECB) which was introduced in 2013 and adopted the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) from 2011 with a few amendments. From an energy performance perspective, one of the principal amendments of MECB 2013 was to improve the minimum energy efficiency of windows by about 10%.
- In the subsequent years, the MECB has not been updated, while other provinces have adopted more recent versions of the NECB, for example Ontario and British Columbian introduced their own specialized building energy codes in 2017, while Saskatchewan and Alberta both adopted the NECB 2017 in 2019.
- Among the changes that NECB 2017 introduced was the requirement to include the impact of thermal bridging, where a building component such as framing members or balconies allows heat to easily bypass the insulation layer, and lowers the effective thermal resistance of the building envelope. Depending on the type of construction, this can be a significant change which will generally require more insulation and careful detailing to pass Code.
- Manitoba is now lagging behind in code adoption, and while further delays won’t be doing our building industry any favours, it is important to introduce a new code in a manner which is carefully planned and well supported. New buildings constructed today will need to fit into Canada’s strategy to achieve Net Zero by 2050 and deliver on its commitments to address the climate change crisis.
In 2021 the Manitoba Government passed Bill 38 (The Building and Electrical Permitting Improvement Act) to harmonize with the National model building codes.
Some additional background:
1. The 24 month and 18 month period in the legislation is required to allow projects in the design phase to proceed to construction/permitting phase with certainty of not having to redo the design. Developers, consultants and contractors require this certainty for budgets, schedules, etc. It also allows time for the stakeholders to be educated on the additional requirements in the new code. In other words, you can’t just flip a switch and have the code come into effect without a lot of market disruption. Please note that NECB 2011 was proclaimed on December 20, 2013 and came into effect in Manitoba on December 31, 2014 and that SBM and others did lots of educational programming for that to happen so quickly!
2. Here is the Regulation that adopted the NECB 2011 and amendments. It is hard to tell how significant the amendments were but there is nothing in Bill 38 that prohibits Manitoba from doing amendments. The opinions are that the new code requirements and frequency of new codes are going to be so incrementally greater than previous, that amendments will not be an issue anyways – it will be fast and furious!
3. It has been mentioned that the Manitoba Building Codes committee is not active any longer and that Manitoba input into the code development will be diminished. The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes policy position is to “analyze the impact of a uniform performance goal for all of Canada compared to regionally-specific goals and pay particular attention to constraints in Canada’s North.” As well, CCBFC works closely with the Provincial/Territorial Policy Advisory Committee on Codes (PTPACC) of which Manitoba is represented.