Why build to code

The National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2011 establishes the minimum energy performance for a new building.

Benefits of building to meet the NECB 2011 include:

  • saving on energy bills
  • reducing peak energy demand
  • improving the quality and comfort of your building's indoor environment
  • improving the long-term sustainability of your building
  • helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

In an energy efficient sustainable building...

  • worker productivity can improve by approximately 5 percent
  • there is a rental premium of between 3 and 5 percent
  • there is an increased sales value of between 8 and 26 percent

Do Green Buildings Make Dollars and Sense? [PDF - 772KB], CBRE (2009)

Building to the code makes sense

The construction phase is the most cost-effective point in the life of a building to incorporate energy efficiency measures. These measures not only help to save energy and money throughout the life of your building, they are much more expensive to retrofit later during the operations and maintenance phase.

The NECB 2011 focuses on five key building elements affecting energy efficiency that are typically considered during the design stage.

  1. Building envelope (Part 3): This refers to "the collection of components that separate conditioned heated and cooled space from unconditioned space, the exterior air, or the groundFootnote 1." It includes walls, windows, doors and roofing, and addresses air infiltration rates and efficiency at insulating the building. Factors such as building orientation and shading are also considered part of the building envelope.
  2. Lighting (Part 4): This includes "lighting components and systems connected to the building's electrical serviceFootnote 2." Energy efficiency measures such as reducing lighting levels, using lighting controls (e.g. automated timers or occupancy sensors) and making use of available daylight are all considered here.
  3. Heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems (Part 5): This element considers the efficiency and capacity of the equipment used to heat, cool and ventilate the building, as well as factors such as heat recovery ventilation, pipe and duct insulation, temperature control, and scheduling that ensures systems are only operational when required.
  4. Service water heating (Part 6): This element considers all the ways hot water is used in a building, and recommends low-flow products, waste water heat recovery, condensing boilers, scheduling of pumps, etc.
  5. Electrical power systems and motors (Part 7): Building designers are advised to seek out and use high efficiency products.

Although you can leave the technical aspects of the code to design and construction professionals, as a building owner or manager, you need to stay informed on the basics. The National Research Council Canada makes this easy by offering a series of seven 20-minute presentations that will guide you through the requirements of each part of the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2011.

Proof that the energy code is achievable

Between 1997 and 2007, Natural Resources Canada reviewed models from more than 1000 building projects under our Commercial Building Incentive Program. To be eligible for funding, projects had to meet standards equivalent to those now found in the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2011. The average building not only met those standards, but exceeded them by more than 10 percent - proving that code compliance is an achievable target.