Summary of Changes Introduced in the 2012 Ontario Building Code

Last week, I attended an EnerQuality/BILD course on the new Ontario Building Code (OBC) that will come into effect on January 1, 2012. This blog post is a summary of what I learned.

Please note that this summary refers to low-rise builders operating in southern Ontario.

First, the majority of the changes in the new OBC aim to improve energy efficiency and water management.

Second, builders will be given 10 practical choices of packages on how to comply with the 2012 OBC. Four of these choices appear most practical, meaning they are the simplest as well as the most economical. All four require increased insulation.

So, depending on the package chosen, builders will have to ensure that:

  • the attic’s insulation increases to R50 (from R40),
  • exterior walls’ insulation goes up from R19 to either R22 or R24 (depending on the package chosen),
  • the furnace’s annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) increases from 90% to 92% or 94%, again depending on the package. The heat recovery ventilator (HRV) may or may not be required, depending on the package, and…
  • the insulation of basement walls either stays at R12 or goes up to R20 (depending on the package).

Also, windows will have to be more energy efficient regardless of which package is chosen.

Builders can choose to ignore these compliance paths, provided they build to Energuide 80 (which is what the current  Energy Star stipulates. See my previous blog post).

What are your thoughts on the new OBC and the compliance paths given to builders?

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rainier Blundel
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 09:03:20

    Any significant changes to Part 7 in the works?


  2. Yvon Gonthier
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 08:51:47

    I attended the workshop in Ottawa last December but some items were left a little vague. In some locations, it identifies that one of the new code goals is to reduce thermal bridging but some of the package options like going to R22 or R24 do nothing to deal with thermal bridging. They have another workshop next Friday but I don’t know if it’s worth attending. Do thay have anything different?


    • John Amardeil
      Nov 18, 2011 @ 13:53:22

      Hi Yvon,

      I recommend you go to the new seminar because many more details are now known. I don’t recall if anything was done to address thermal bridging, but 24″ framing is still possible and it has less thermal bridging.


  3. Adam
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:48:35

    The OBC requires a min. of RSI 0.90 (R5.11) for elements acting as a thermal bridge. A 2×6 stud has around R6.875 (wood is approx. R1.25 / inch).

    Therefore 2×6 studs are allowable and meet the thermal bridge requirements. If you want to exceed this then you can still add some rigid insulation (foam sheets) on the outside or increase the spacing as John suggested.

    There is also the option of 2×8 walls which can give you around R9.06 but this is getting costly.

    (this is all based on R1.25/inch for wood!)


  4. Cristine
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 13:18:01

    I purchased a new home from a builder. After the house was completed, I realized that my paperwork indicated that my home should be energy star certified. The builder claims they were not aware of this and has since replaced my furnace with a 95% ECM model, taped the ductwork in the basement only, and installed an HRV but no blow test has been performed yet. In your opinion, do you think it is possible for the builder to obtain an Energy Certification since no inspections were performed during construction?


    • Yvon Gonthier
      Jan 13, 2012 @ 15:52:55

      Hi Cristine
      Unless things have changed or your builder has good contacts, the application for Energy Star Certification must be applied for before construction therefore not available in your case. A test and certification that the house meets the requirements can still be done but will not be registered under Energy Star.


  5. Trackback: Do You Know Everything You Should About the 2012 Ontario Building Code? «
  6. John Amardeil
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 08:34:56

    Hi Christine,

    I strongly recommend contacting your lawyer if your contract stipulates EnergyStar and you did not receive an EnergyStar home.


  7. Craig Naus
    Feb 19, 2012 @ 08:22:10

    Do You think with all this these tighter homes that spray in place foam systems are going to become a regular thing? Aren’t the price of fiberglass batts for R22/R24 walls very expensive? Do you think that residential builders will find some sort of loop hole to cheap out on it? We need inspections by people who know what to look for and consequences to those not doing requirements. This way also, trades people can get some regularity in their pricing, and help build a tighter home. I am a plasterer who does alot of residential EIFS (insulated stucco systems). By the time we get to site, the builder expects it to be done yesterday, the windows are in without barrier protection around rough opening, Framed gables and dormers get no exterior insulation all the time because of access. . . Builder needs to take more initiative and get a little dirty.
    Thanks C.


    • John Amardeil
      Mar 02, 2012 @ 08:03:23

      Hi Craig, you are right that blown in insulation is not perfect — building inspectors are supposed to check install, and it could be done better… like everything else. I hope that spray in place insulation grows in popularity. The price of R22/24 batte insulation is going to drop as it becomes more common.


  8. peter ascento
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 02:15:45

    I just did a inspection on a new home in May for a friend from work and found thier attic insulation to below the new OBC requirement of R50 as of Jan 2012. the builder says 2 things. 1) since the the home is not a energy star home the incease in sulation is not required. 2) since the building permit was obtaied in 2011 they are not required to follow the supplementry update to the code. Is this correct/


  9. Suzanne Staunton
    Feb 16, 2013 @ 18:11:11

    We just renovated the outside of our mobile home. Now doing the inside took out all old insulation and put new one the permit says R-22 but our walls are 2″X3″ so we put R-14 do you think the permit office will ok the R-14? If not can we continue with the reno thos is my husband work he teach it. So the R-14 is a big improuvement from what was there. Change all windows put tyvec outside with new siding.
    Thsnk you looking forward to your answer.


    • John Amardeil
      Feb 21, 2013 @ 12:25:22

      Hi Suzanne, if you’re talking about a home with wheels, that’s not the same building code as we deal with.


    Jun 22, 2013 @ 13:19:25

    Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your site is useful.
    Thanks for sharing!


  11. chiropractor in burlington
    Jun 22, 2013 @ 13:22:30

    You have made some really good points there. I looked on the web for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with
    your views on this site.


  12. James
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 14:50:27

    Hi. Thanks. Do you have a summary of the 2014 code anywhere that I can view?


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