National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings
About the NECB
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.
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The NECB became mandatory on Nov. 1, 2016. Electronic copies of the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (2017) are available free of charge from the National Research Council.
- NECB Interpretation: Unitary and Package HVAC Equipment Performance Requirements
- NECB Interpretation: Heat Recovery Systems (Exemptions)
- NECB Interpretation: Application of building energy performance compliance path
- NECB Interpretation: Application of simple trade-off path
- NECB Interpretation: Monitoring
- NECB Interpretation: Thermal characteristics of above-ground opaque building assemblies
- Code interpretation: NECB Div. A-18.104.22.168.(1) Application of this code, temporary and re-locatable buildings
- Code interpretation: NECB Div. A-22.214.171.124.(1) application of this code
- Code interpretation: NECB 126.96.36.199.(4) automatic lighting shut-off controls
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. This section is specifically designed for houses and small buildings as defined in Section 188.8.131.52 of the Alberta Building Code and may be more appropriate for your application.
The NECB directly impacts building design and construction practices. To help applicants and industry adapt to these changes, The City of Calgary has implemented the following practices related to NECB review:
- Development permit applications for large projects will be reviewed for NECB compliance, and advisory notes added to the detailed team review for applicants’ consideration.
- The City of Calgary’s Building Regulations division will review new building plans to verify compliance with NECB.
Unlike Alberta’s safety codes, there are several methods that you can choose to demonstrate compliance with the NECB. 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.
This path involves following the prescriptive requirements of Sections 3.2, 4.2, 5.2, 6.2 and 7.2 of the NECB. It 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.
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 requirements 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 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. To make the calculations easier, there are downloadable trade-off path calculation tools to assist you with this compliance 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.
For the NECB 2011, 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.
What is the NECB?
NECB stands for the “National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings” and is a construction code that regulates the energy efficiency of new buildings constructed in Alberta.
I’m adding to an existing building; does the existing part have to be upgraded to meet the NECB?
No, the addition can be considered independent of the existing building. However, at the discretion of the design team, there may be situations where there are benefits to upgrading elements of the existing building to achieve a more efficient overall building design aim.
What do I require to submit my development permit or building permit?
For all submission requirements, please refer to the City of Calgary guidance documents.
I am designing to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED); do I meet the energy code?
Not necessarily; LEED and the NECB are not the same and compliance with one does not assure compliance with the other. There are shared elements, particularly regarding energy modelling, however the specific requirements for the energy model are different. Most notably in the area of ASHRAE 62 compliance, LEED allows the most current versions of ASHRAE to be used whereas NECB places certain restrictions on ASHRAE versions relating to the Canadian Climate.
Do I need to use an energy consultant?
No, a specific consultant for the energy code is not required; however if the application requires professional involvement under the Alberta Building Code, then a professional must stamp and sign the energy code submittals.
Scope and compliance
Which parts of my design are affected by the NECB?
The NECB covers the above and below ground building envelope, interior and exterior lighting, HVAC and service hot water systems, power distribution, and motors. This can impact all the major disciplines involved in building design.
Does the NECB apply to my project?
Generally speaking, if your building falls into occupancy classifications A, B or F1 or it exceeds 600 m² in a building area or 3 storeys in height, it is within the scope of the NECB. Additionally, at the applicant’s discretion, any project within the scope of Alberta Building Code 9.36 may choose to use the NECB technical requirements in lieu of ABC 9.36.
What about additions or renovations?
If a building was required to meet the NECB at the time of its construction, future renovations must demonstrate that they do not reduce the level of compliance previously achieved. If the building was not required to meet the NECB compliance levels at the time of construction, then the renovations are not required to meet NECB standards.
It is mandatory that any additions greater more than 10 m² of conditioned floor space must meet the requirements of the NECB. This is a unique definition to the NECB. Additions are also unique in that the NECB allows some discretion in permitting applicants to demonstrate compliance for the addition by itself, or the addition in combination with the existing building.
What version of the NECB should I use?
The legislated version of the NECB in Alberta is the National Energy Code of Canada for buildings 2011 edition. Although NECB 2015 is available, it has not been adopted in the province of Alberta.
My building isn’t heated; does NECB apply to me?
Buildings with a heating system whose total capacity is less than 10 W/square metre are exempted from Part 3 of the NECB, as are buildings that have no heating system. However, if a building is constructed so that it may be heated in the future, all parts of the NECB apply. Additionally, even an unheated building may be required to meet other parts of the NECB such as electrical lighting or ventilation requirements.
I want to apply for separate shell and fit-out permits. How do I show compliance with NECB?
The shell building must be designed and constructed to energy code requirements, using prescriptive, trade-off or performance compliance. Any systems that are not designed and installed at the time of Core and Shell permitting must be modeled using the appropriate prescriptive requirements found in the NECB. Subsequent fit-out (Tenant Improvement) permits must also meet NECB requirements and may demonstrate compliance using the compliance paths found in the NECB.
Is there a professional schedule for energy code?
While there is not a specific professional schedule dedicated to the energy efficiency, energy code provisions have been included in the revised Schedules issued by the Province of Alberta via and Standata 14-BCI-001. Therefore, if a project requires professional involvement, the Professional(s) of Record are responsible for verifying NECB requirements are met.
Revised Schedules are available on the Alberta Municipal Affairs Website.
Do I include my floor perimeters in my calculation of Fenestration & Door to Wall Area (FDWR) calculations?
Yes, the gross wall area calculation will include the areas of wall where the floor meets the exterior wall unless the floor fully penetrates and projects beyond the face of the building. This would be considered under the structural penetrations requirements.
The areas where the floor meets the exterior envelope are permitted to have an overall thermal transmittance twice that of the adjacent wall assembly. This will be demonstrated separately from the overall thermal transmittance of the main wall assemblies.
Does the energy code only cover the lighting inside my building?
No the NECB also provides requirements for the exterior lighting of the building and any exterior spaces associated with the building such as parking or pathways and communal space. It also includes lighting of unconditioned spaces such a certain parkades
Do I have to use LED lighting now?
The NECB does not specify types of fixtures or systems. Energy consumption levels are set for building types or spaces. The choice of fixtures and systems depend upon the designer, and must be within the overall energy consumption parameters laid out in the NECB.
Is it possible for me to consider a site built principal ventilation system in my energy model?
Yes, provided the parameters used in the calculation are constant between the site built system and a heat recovery ventilator e.g., flow rates and run times then it should be possible to model the site built system.
Do I need to seal my mechanical ventilation ducts?
Yes, any ducts not contained within a conditioned space must be sealed. Any unsealed ducts may be subject to a Safety Codes Officer requesting the results of an air leakage test to be submitted in accordance with ANSI/SMACNA 006, “HVAC Duct Construction Standards – Metal and Flexible”.
Do I need to insulate my mechanical ventilation ducts?
All ducts not located within the conditioned space must be insulated in accordance with NECB 184.108.40.206 and this insulation must be protected from the effects of condensation; and where applicable, mechanical damage.
Performance Compliance Modeling
Which climate data should I use for modelling?
The NECB references the climate data from Appendix C of the National Building Code. Currently the Alberta Building Code 2014 edition uses the same data. However, the National Building Code will rule in any discrepancy. It is also possible to use local-measured climactic data if the published data does not cover the area of work.
Is calculation software available?
Yes, suitable software is available from a number of commercial sources. The Government of Canada also provides a Canadian version of the E-Quest software called CAN-QUEST, available free of charge from Natural Resources Canada.
Select the compliance path you would like to follow for each part, and click "get documents" to see all of the compliance documents you will need.
Note: The compliance paths you choose must be indicated on your completed
NECB Project Summary form and submitted at the time of Building Permit application. The NECB Application Guide provides specific information on Building Permit submissions.
We’re committed to providing you with a timely response on your permit application.
The NECB provides flexibility with compliance to allow engineers, architects, and designers multiple paths to ensure their building-design proposals are compliant.
Helpful links & resources
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