November , 1999

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New Codes for Alberta

Canada Gets Ready For
Objective-Based Construction Codes

Objective-based codes are coming to Canada, likely at about the end of 2003, and they are expected to have beneficial effects for code users.

Users will find the documents written with greater clarity and containing specific statements of objectives that will make it easier to introduce innovative designs based on a common understanding of requirements.

This is how the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes is responding to users to make the national model codes more flexible, especially concerning innovation, while keeping codes as similar as possible to those with which they are familiar.

Thus, code committees are looking at each requirement in the national model codes and clearly identifying the intent of each. The results of this bottom-up analysis will be used to restructure the codes in a new objective-based form.

The new codes will contain objectives and functional requirements in one part, with direct referrals to solutions in another part - which at first will be an updated version of the familiar 1995 codes.

Thus a design, system or product that doesnąt meet the prescriptive requirements could satisfy the clearly stated objective and functional requirements, thus opening the door even more widely to new, acceptable solutions.

There will, of course, be some differences between old and new, which is why training will be available to ease the transition. This will most likely take the form of one or two-day seminars to show design professionals how to take advantage of the added flexibility being written into the new codes.

Some things, though will be unchanged. Using an alternative instead of the prescriptive requirements in the present codes does not shift responsibility, nor will it under the new codes. But the introduction of objective-based codes should make the use of alternative solutions by providing clearer intents and objectives.

Code users should watch for opportunities to comment on the new codes during a public consultation on objectives sometime in 2000 and on the draft codes in 2002.

In addition, the Commission and provinces and territories are working on a single, coordinated review and development system. It will retain the best features of the process in use until now, but will allow provincial and territorial concerns about the development of provincial codes to be heard and addressed at the same time as concerns regarding Model National Codes. The result will be more widespread participation by codes users, and a coordinated public consultation procedure.

Further Information may be obtained by contacting the Canadian Codes Centre at (613) 993-9960 (voice); (613) 952-4040 (fax); or e-mail at

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