National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings
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.
The application of the NECB became mandatory on Nov. 1, 2016. The NECB is updated periodically alongside other Safety Codes. The version that is currently referenced in the Safety Codes is the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (2017).
Electronic copies of the NECB are available free of charge from the National Research Council.
Before you start
Not all buildings are required to meet the NECB requirements, some are permitted to demonstrate energy performance using Section 9.36 of the NBC 2019 (AE). This is an option you can consider if your building is not one of the following types:
- Assembly occupancy, or
- Care and Detention occupancy, or
- Medium or High Hazard Industrial occupancy, or
- Any other non-residential occupancy less than or equal to 300m² in building area or 3 storeys in height.
Section 9.36 of the Alberta Building Code is specifically designed for houses and small buildings as defined in Section 184.108.40.206 of the Alberta Building Code and may be more appropriate for your application.
What are the impacts of the NECB
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:
- The City of Calgary’s Building Regulations division will review new building plans to verify compliance with NECB.
How do I comply with the 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 as there is less flexibility in design.
- Prescriptive path compliance for any part of the NECB requires meeting all the requirements in that part
- If your design cannot meet all requirements, another compliance path, such as the trade-off or performance path should be selected.
- Prescriptive path checklists are available to help applicants identify specific articles in the code
- 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 2017.
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.
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 that consumed by a design 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 the building energy performance compliance paths. This approach is found Part 8 of the NECB.
For the current NECB, you must simply demonstrate that the proposed design will not consume more energy than an equivalent design 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 Complete Application Requirement List (CARL) for your application.
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 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?
If the application requires professional involvement under the Alberta Building Code, then a professional must stamp and sign the energy code submittals. Otherwise, a specific consultant for the energy code is not required.
Scope and compliance
Does the NECB apply to my project?
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.
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.
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.
My building isn’t heated; does NECB apply to me?
Buildings with a heating system whose total capacity is less than 10 W/m² 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 energy code compliance, the NECB is referenced from the National Building Code (Alberta Edition). Therefore, if a project requires professional involvement, the Professional(s) of Record are responsible for verifying NECB requirements are met.
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 penetration requirements.
Does the energy code cover the lighting outside my building?
Yes, the NECB 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 220.127.116.11 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 National Building Code- 2019 Alberta 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
November 4, 2021
Building Envelope Code Compliance
Watch our recorded Q&A about Building Envelopes and how to make sure your project is compliant with the relevant Codes.
Hear from The City's Planning & Development team on how to protect a building from environmental elements and improve overall efficiency, learn about common deficiencies witnessed by City Safety Codes Officers and get tips on planning and building your project so that it meets compliance.
Planning Services Centre
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Live chat: calgary.ca/livechat
Web: Planning Services Centre
Development Approvals Review Team
Find Development Approvals Review Team staff to contact about specific applications.