2020 National Model Codes include mass timber, large farm building requirements

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Ontario Construction Report staff writer

The 2020 National Model Codes are now available and contain nearly 400 changes to make Canadian homes and buildings safer; more accessible; and climate change ready. Two key changes: the Codes introduce encapsulated mass timber as a new construction material and technical requirements for large farm buildings for the first time.

The 2020 National Model Codes, an updated set of model construction codes designed to make Canadian buildings safer and more accessible, while responding to climate change have been released.

“These new Codes are more reflective of the current world we live in,” said Kevin Griffiths, Chair, Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC). “Thanks to these updates, it will be easier for Canadians with accessibility considerations to navigate different spaces; large farm buildings are now included in the Codes to reflect the evolving agricultural sector; and energy performance levels have been introduced to make buildings more energy efficient.”

The 2020 Codes include nearly 400 changes developed through an open, transparent, and consensus-based process that included expert volunteers from across Canada. As part of the development process, the public was given an opportunity to review and comment on all proposed changes before the Codes were finalized. Current provincial and territorial building, fire, plumbing and energy regulations will remain in effect until the 2020 Codes are adopted, with or without modifications, by the provincial or territorial authorities having jurisdiction.

Highlights include:

  • A clarification that, through certain technical requirements, the existing Fire Safety objective addresses safety of emergency responders including firefighters when performing their duties
  • Strengthened protections for openable windows in residential occupancies to minimize the risk of falling
  • Safety glazing in windows and doors for schools, and similar buildings, to reduce the hazards of wired glass
  • Updates to evaporative equipment and drain pans to minimize the growth and transmission of legionella and other bacteria
  • Adjustments to the minimum dimensions of building elements to accommodate people using a wider variety of mobility devices, and requirements for tactile signage and for more pedestrian entrances and floor levels to be accessible
  • A tiered energy performance compliance path which incrementally improves energy efficiency at each successive tier
  • The introduction of whole-building airtightness testing as an option for complying with air leakage requirements
  • A new home-type care occupancy that will allow for safe and affordable care
  • Introduction of encapsulated mass timber construction to allow for the construction of wood buildings up to 12 storeys tall; and
  • Introduction of technical requirements for large farm buildings and addition of new agricultural occupancies

The 2020 Codes are available through the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)’s publications archive in a free electronic format for download. To purchase the publications in print format, an order can be placed online through the NRC’s virtual store.

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