Energy Code requirements
As part of the greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy introduced by the Government of Alberta the new National Energy Code of Canada for Building 2017 (NECB) and energy efficiency requirements within Section 9.36 of the National Building Code, 2019 AB Edition are in effect.
The codes outlined above are the minimum standard for construction for building permits applied for after November 1, 2016.
National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2017 (NECB 2017)
The National Energy Code for Buildings 2017 (NECB 2017) has been implemented as the minimum construction standard in Alberta for energy efficiency of commercial and residential space of a certain type and size, in addition to components in additions and new buildings.
Components covered in NECB 2017 are:
- Building envelope, including windows, walls and doors
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
- Service water heating
- Electric motors
Alberta Building Code 9.36
The primary building and systems in a house or small building are covered in Section 9.36 of the National Building Code, 2019 AB Edition, this includes: the building envelope, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and hot water systems. This also applies to small buildings, which are defined in Clause 18.104.22.168 of the National Building Code, 2019 AB Edition.
Updates to the code address:
- Air leakage
- Uncontrolled thermal transfer
- Unnecessary energy demand or consumption for heating and cooling, service water heating, and electrical equipment and devices
- Inefficiency of equipment and systems
- Unnecessary rejection of reusable waste energy
How do I ensure code compliance?
This path involves following the prescriptive requirements of Subsection 9.36.2, 9.36.3 and 9.36.4. This is the simplest compliance path to follow, but may not be appropriate for all buildings.
NOTE: Prescriptive path compliance for any part of the 9.36 requires meeting all requirements in the path. If this is not possible then another compliance path should be followed.
The trade-off path allows for more flexibility in design and for trading elements within the above ground building envelope to demonstrate equivalent level performance without meeting all prescriptive requirements outlined in 9.36.2.
With the trade-off path you must provide a calculation that demonstrates that though your proposed design may not precisely meet the prescriptive requirements found in Section 9.36, the amount of energy consumed will equal to or less than what will be consumed by following the prescriptive compliance path.
For example, if your design contains a regular framed wall with studs at 24” on the centre and a tall wall with studs at 12” on the centre, you may be able to compensate for the lesser value of the tall wall by improving the insulation in the regular wall or improving the thermal performance of the ceiling.
NOTE: It is important to note that the trade-off path has limitations and rules on how to calculate what may be traded off. These limitations are found in Section 22.214.171.124.
For the most design flexibility, you should choose to use a performance compliance path. This approach is found in subsection 9.36.5 and is only applicable to houses and buildings containing residential occupancies.
For the performance compliance path, you must demonstrate that the proposed design will not consume more energy than an equivalent building built to prescriptive requirements, using an approved building energy simulation tool (computer software). Performance compliance can allow for trade-offs between building systems, and might be the only compliance path that is practical for certain buildings.
National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2017
While this may be considered overly complex for the typical house or small commercial building, it is permitted to use the NECB as a means of demonstrating compliance with Section 9.36. If you choose this path, it is important to understand you must use the NECB fully. There is no way to use parts of 9.36 and the NECB in combination to show compliance.
Energy efficiency checklist - residential and limited small commercial projects
Frequently Asked Questions
1. I'm planning to renovate my house or add an addition. Will I need to update my entire house to the new standard?Permanent link to I'm planning to renovate my house or add an addition. Will I need to update my entire house to the new standard?
No, the addition is required to meet the new standards within section 9.36 of the National Building Code, 2019 AB Edition, but all existing parts of the house are unaffected.
If a building was required to meet section 9.36 of the code at the time of its construction, any future renovation must demonstrate that they do not reduce the level of compliance previously achieved. Where the renovations involve new construction or installation of new systems covered in section 9.36 those should meet the requirements.
2. Do I need an architect or engineer to help with this?Permanent link to Do I need an architect or engineer to help with this?
Not necessarily. Section 9.36 of the National Building Code, 2019 AB Edition can be followed without the help of professionals. However, the requirements of the performance compliance path are quite detailed. Depending on the project, it may be advisable to work with a professional familiar with the necessary software and calculations.
3. My building isn't heated, does section 9.36 of the National Building Code, 2019 AB Edition apply to me?Permanent link to My building isn't heated, does section 9.36 of the National Building Code, 2019 AB Edition apply to me?
Section 9.36 of the code does not apply to a building or part of a building that isn't heated. Note that garages attached to houses do not fall under this exemption.
4. If I use R20 insulation does that make my wall R20?Permanent link to If I use R20 insulation does that make my wall R20?
No, Section 9.36 of the code introduces effective RSI values which take account of all parts of a construction assembly, not just the insulation component.
Heat loss due to parts of the assembly interrupting the insulation, such as studs, must now be calculated to determine the effective RSI value.
*note that RSI value is a metric measure of how well a material resists the passage of heat.
Why does your stud spacing matter?
The stud spacing matters because if your studs are closer together, the proportion of framing is greater and the amount of insulation in the assembly is less.
6. Do I have to insulate my attached garage?Permanent link to Do I have to insulate my attached garage?
Yes, attached garages must be insulated to the same level as required for the house walls.
7. Do I have to insulate my detached garage?Permanent link to Do I have to insulate my detached garage?
No, detached garages are considered spaces not required to be conditioned and are not covered by Section 9.36 of the code.
8. Does Section 9.36 of the code cover the lighting inside my building?Permanent link to Does Section 9.36 of the code cover the lighting inside my building?
No, it has no requirements related to the electrical systems of your building.
Do I have to use LED lighting now?
No, Section 9.36 of the code does not impose any restrictions on the type or amount of light fixtures within your building.
10. Which climate data should I use for modelling?Permanent link to Which climate data should I use for modelling?
Section 9.36 of the code references the climate data outlined in Appendix C of the code.
Is calculation software available?
Yes, software is available from a number of commercial sources. The Government of Canada also provides software called HOT2000, available at no cost from Natural Resources Canada.
12. I already have calculation software, can I still use it?Permanent link to I already have calculation software, can I still use it?
Yes, provided your software meets the ANSI/ASHRAE 140 standard.
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