Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My name is Michel Dumoulin and I am the Acting Vice-President of the Engineering Division at the National Research Council of Canada.
I'm joined here today by Philip Rizcallah, who is the Director of Research and Development at NRC, within the engineering division.
We are very pleased to have this opportunity to speak with you today. We would like to start by highlighting the NRC's recent contributions to help the Government of Canada achieve its targets for Canada's national model codes, a low-carbon economy, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Initially, I would like to provide you with an idea of the scale and scope of the NRC. Our work covers a broad range of scientific and engineering disciplines, the outcomes of which have changed the lives of Canadians and people around the globe.
We are a national organization with some 3,700 highly skilled and innovative researchers and staff located across the country. Our 14 research centres operate out of 22 locations spanning Canada's geography.
Each year, our organization works closely with industry, conducting research and development work with over 1,000 businesses. We provide technical advice to 11,000 small and medium-size companies, and we collaborate with tens of universities and colleges, research hospitals, federal departments, and international partners.
More specific for today, our organization is the coordinator and custodian of Canada's national model codes, including the model building code and model energy code. We provide administrative support to the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes and perform research in support of the work of its technical committees.
We facilitate uptake in the marketplace of the model codes and new technologies that support the code. We also support development of standards, best practice guides, and tools for the construction industry, as well as pilot projects and techno-economic assessments. Speaking of codes, these evolve in response to advances in construction practices and product innovation.
In working with the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, we are using an extensive consensus-based process that has involvement from all sectors of the construction community and the public over a five-year cycle. This approach provides a reasonable compromise among stability, flexibility, and economic considerations.
This collaborative engagement ensures that the best available knowledge drives meaningful change. As building codes evolve along with new technologies and materials, this knowledge provides a level playing field that gives construction professionals the confidence to innovate safely, reduces risks, and keeps compliance costs low. Building codes keep these costs even lower by establishing uniform, trusted regulations that keep pace with industry change.
One example of this meaningful change is the NRC's collaboration in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. This framework is Canada's vision for action to help meet its climate change objectives by reducing the carbon emitted by buildings' operations.
The NRC also works closely with the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes and its technical committees to meet the timelines outlined in the pan-Canadian framework. Given the committee's interest, I should add that this process will include wooden structures. Standing committees on energy codes have been created and are undertaking thorough cost-benefit analyses. We are taking into consideration factors such as building types, geographic location, and availability of needed trades and technologies.
Research and validation are ongoing at NRC to support meeting the GHG targets while at the same time identifying costs and benefits. As we work in close collaboration and partnership with Natural Resources Canada, our goals are to make new buildings more energy efficient, to retrofit existing buildings, and to support building codes and energy-efficient housing in indigenous communities. The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes' long-term energy policy was developed in response to the pan-Canadian framework, and the code targets were set to be as closely aligned with the framework as possible.
Relevant for our discussion today is NRC's role in ensuring that the technical and safety research requirements are undertaken and applied to building codes as regards commercial and residential wooden structures. As you know, there is increasing interest by industry in multi-storey wooden buildings. These buildings are often designed to reduce the total carbon footprint while providing added economic benefits for Canada's forest products industry.
In response to this trend, the NRC launched the mid-rise wood buildings research program in 2012. In collaboration with industry, government, and other research organizations, the NRC provided over 1,800 pages of technical information to the codes committees, which enabled changes to the National Building Code to permit wood buildings up to six storeys as an accepted and safe solution. Before the program's completion in 2016, there were over 250 wood buildings between four and six storeys built or under construction across Canada.
As you have heard from the testimony of others, advances in wood technologies, such as cross-laminated timber, have enabled wood buildings to reach even greater heights. One example is the 18-storey Brock Commons Tallwood House at the University of British Columbia. Working with the commission's technical committees, the NRC provides support to develop the unbiased knowledge needed to support changes to the building code. This reduces the time and effort required to design wooden buildings up to 12 storeys tall without compromising safety. Results are expected in time for the 2020 code revision.
The ongoing research at NRC is aimed at first validating the performance and then quantifying the risk of the effects of climate change and extreme events that could have impacts on the performance and durability of tall wood building envelope materials, components, and assemblies. This will permit validated design options for massive wood buildings, including Canadian timber products, in the numerous geographic and climate regions of Canada.
As the government strives to reduce the carbon footprint of government buildings, increasing attention is being given not only to the carbon emitted during operation by considering energy efficiency, but also the carbon used to create the building materials.
Also, we must be cognizant of the additional carbon that may be required to decommission the building when it reaches its end-of-life cycle. To reduce the total carbon footprint of a building over its life requires forethought, good design, and engineering, as well as diligent operation.
In addition to the consideration of long-term impacts, the creation of a low-carbon economy will immediately result in positive impacts in terms of wealth and job creation as we help industry innovate.
To close, it is the NRC's breadth of expertise, our unique scientific infrastructure, and our national scope, all combined, that enable us to convene players and technologies from across Canada and abroad, which should result in the highest chance of innovation success. This will make a difference to Canadians in the decades to come.
Thank you for your interest in the NRC, Mr. Chair. My colleague, Philip, and I will be happy to take questions at this time.