Codes and Standards

Codes and standards

In Canada, building codes are important tools for achieving social goals related to safety, health, accessibility, fire and structural protection as well as the environment. In addition, they are increasingly used as a means of achieving other goals such as increasing energy efficiency, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, and achieving sustainability.

Building codes, which typically are enacted under provincial regulations, refer to a large number of standards published by accredited standards development organisations such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the American Society for Testing and Materials Codes (ASTM). The manufacture of cement, concrete and concrete products in Canada is governed by a variety of CSA standards. These standards form the backbone of the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) and of provincial building codes. Industry specifications and guidelines also cite CSA standards for other forms of construction not governed by Canadian building codes.

Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC)

Development of national model construction codes and guides, such as the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC), is the responsibility of the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) – an independent committee which oversees the work of a number of technical standing committees.  It is comprised of volunteers whose expertise represent various sectors of the construction industry. The CCBFC and its technical standing committees are created using a “balanced matrix” approach, which means that each committee is structured to capitalize on the combined strengths and expertise of its members – with no single group dominating. Each committee considers the views of all participants on a consensus-based approach, which includes the principles of inclusive participation, transparency and respect for diverse interests.

The CCBFC oversees 9 standing committees, of which four are of major interest to the cement and concrete industries. These are:

  • Standing Committee on Structural Design (NBCC Part 4)
  • Standing Committee on Earthquake Design (NBCC Part 4)
  • Standing Committee on Housing and Small Buildings (NBCC Part 9)
  • Standing Committee on Fire Protection (NBCC Part 3 & National Fire Code)

The Standing Committee on Structural Design (SCSD) is responsible for structural design requirements in the National model codes and guides relating to:

  • structural loads and procedures
  • excavations and foundation design
  • design requirements for structural materials (wood, masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, glass)
  • design requirements for special structures (air-supported structures, parking structures)

The Standing Committee on Earthquake Design (SCED), formerly known as CANCEE, is responsible for developing and recommending changes in the National Building Code of Canada and the User’s Guide: NBC Structural Commentaries pertaining to earthquake loads and effects.

The Standing Committee on Housing and Small Buildings (SCHSB) is responsible for all requirements in Part 9 of the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) and their related appendix notes as well as technical content for ancillary documents [e.g. Illustrated User’s Guide: NBC Part 9 Housing and Small Buildings].

The Standing Committee on Fire Protection is responsible for requirements for building components and systems, including construction and demolition sites, in the National Model Codes relating to:

  • structural fire protection
  • combustibility of building materials
  • fire spread within buildings, including smoke movement
  • fire spread to adjacent buildings
  • suppression of fires
  • fire protection of fire alarm and detection systems

CAC contribution to codes and standards

Codes and standards are living documents, continually revised and refreshed to address changing requirements and emerging technologies. They are typically reviewed every five years as part of a process of continual improvement. The latest release of the National Building Code of Canada, dated 2015, was issued in early 2016.

Because of the strategic long-term importance of standards in general and their relationship to the National Building Code of Canada, the CAC is actively involved in the technical committees that develop them, and chairs some of those committees. The Cement Association of Canada participates in all meetings of the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC), as well as the meetings of the Standing Committees for Structural Design (NBCC Part 4), Earthquake Design (NBCC Part 4), Housing and Small Buildings (NBCC Part 9) and Fire Protection (NBCC Part 3 & National Fire Code).

The CAC’s participation in the development of regulatory documents ensures that the use of cement and concrete solutions are well-represented in codes and standards. It also ensures that cement- and concrete-based innovations in building materials are codified and adopted in a timely manner.

In addition, the CAC coordinates industry funding of a number of CSA standards and is constantly looking for ways to make them available for national use more cost-efficiently.

Selected cement and concrete material and design standards

Cement

All cement used in concrete construction in Canada is manufactured to meet the requirements of the CSA A3000 compendium of cement standards. The standards that make up the compendium are as follows:

CSA A3001 – Cementitious materials for use in concrete

CSA A3002 – Masonry and mortar cement

CSA A3003 – Chemical test methods for cementitious materials for use in concrete and masonry

CSA A3004 – Test methods and standard practices for cementitious materials for use in concrete and masonry

CSA A3005 – Test equipment and materials for cementitious materials for use in concrete and masonry

Concrete

The vast majority of concrete structures in Canada conform to the requirements of the following standards:

CSA A23.1 – Concrete materials and methods of concrete construction

CSA A23.2 – Test methods and standard practices for concrete

CSA A23.3 – Design of concrete structures

CSA A23.4 – Precast concrete – Materials and construction

CSA S269.1 – Falsework and formwork

CSA S413 – Parking Structures

CSA S6 – Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code

CSA S806 – Design and construction of building structures with fibre-reinforced polymers

Masonry

The vast majority of masonry structures in Canada conform to the requirements of the following standards:

CSA A165.1 – Concrete block masonry units

CSA A165.2 – Concrete brick masonry units

CSA A165.3 – Prefaced concrete masonry units

CSA A179 – Mortar and grout for unit masonry

CSA A370 – Connectors for masonry

CSA A371 – Masonry construction for buildings

CSA S304 – Design of masonry structures