The 2010 edition of the National Model Construction Codes is presented in a format called “objective-based codes” that is structured in three Divisions (A, B and C). The Codes contain explicitly defined objectives and functional statements (see Division A), which are statements on the functions that the components of a building or facility must perform and the objectives that these functions must satisfy. Most of the Code provisions in Division B—called acceptable solutions—are linked to at least one of those objectives and functional statements.
The objectives and functional statements are developed through a process called “bottom-up analysis,” which involves the analysis of each provision in Division B of the Codes to determine its intent and then derive applicable objectives and functional statements. The bottom-up analysis is carried out by the standing committees of the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) with extensive support from the staff of the Canadian Codes Centre (CCC). The technical changes that were incorporated into Division B of the 2010 Codes also underwent the same bottom-up analysis.
NOTE: Application statements were published along with intent statements for the 2005 edition of the Codes. Intent and application statements, which are additional, non-mandatory information and not an integral part of the Codes, provide guidance to Code users. The intent statements contain useful information not available elsewhere that helps users understand the rationale behind each requirement. This contributes to a more accurate interpretation and application of acceptable solutions and a clearer understanding of what alternative solutions should achieve.
Unlike intent statements, application statements repeat the Code provisions in whole or in part and contain information that can be derived from reading related Code requirements. Following a review of the information in the application statements, and given the significant effort required to update them each Code cycle, the CCBFC concluded that maintaining the application statements was an unproductive use of resources and has therefore discontinued their publication.
The 2010 intent statements are included in the on-line versions of the 2010 Codes and are also available for viewing by users of the printed versions of the Codes.
Only the provisions in Part 2 of Division B (i.e. the acceptable solutions not including their Appendix Notes) have intent and application statements and, if applicable, objectives and functional statements.
Clicking on a Sentence reference in the left-hand portion of the screen brings up an analysis window on the right-hand side, which contains that Sentence's applicable objectives, attributions and intent and application statements.
For the most part, entire Sentences are analyzed as units of text. In such cases, only the Sentence number is identified in the analysis window and the actual text of the Sentence can be found in the printed Code. In some instances, however, the analysis applies to only a portion of a Sentence; in such cases, the Clause or Subclause being analyzed is identified in the field entitled “Attribution” or the portion of text being analyzed is quoted or summarized in that field and introduced by the phrase “Applies to.”
The objectives attributed to the provisions or portions of provisions in Division B are derived from the bottom-up analysis. Each analysis window contains tabs displaying the acronyms for each objective attributed to the text being analyzed. Clicking on a tab reveals a panel containing the information related to that objective attribution, e.g. OH1 Indoor Conditions.
Some provisions or portions of provisions in Division B have no objectives attributed to them. In such instances, the tab will display the symbol “+” rather than an objective such as OH1, OS3, etc. See a related discussion below under “Intent.”
The specific functional statements and sub-objectives attributed to the text being analyzed are presented in square brackets in the Attribution field. If the attributions and analysis (i.e. intent and application statements) apply to the entire Sentence, no explanatory text will appear before or after the square brackets; if they apply to only a portion of a Sentence, the square brackets will either be preceded by the Clause or Subclause identifier, or followed by a phrase beginning with “Applies to,” which specifies which portion of the Sentence the attributions and analysis apply to.
An intent statement explains the purpose of a provision or portion of provision found in Division B. It reveals what the standing committee was trying to achieve by introducing the Code provision in the first place or what the Code-user community has come to understand as the reason for the provision's existence.
Generally speaking, intent statements present the consequences of non-compliance with a requirement. They try to answer the question “What are the undesirable thing(s) that might happen if this provision is not complied with?” In many cases, the initial consequences of non-compliance may lead to a chain of consequences; the link between those consequences and the overall objective of the provision may only become apparent in the description of the latter consequences in the chain. All functional statements and objectives identified in Division A and attributed to the provisions in Division B of the 2010 Codes are derived from the intent statements.
Not all Code provisions are technical requirements; some act as definitions, clarifications, application modifiers or pointers to another provision. In such cases, the intent statement explains the role the provision plays in the Code and there is no chain of consquences. These types of provisions have no objectives or functional statements attributed to them. Appendix Note A-22.214.171.124.(1) in Division B of the Code provides information on how these types of provisions shall be interpreted in regards to their relation to objectives and functional statements.
Serious effort was put into using a consistent, logical approach and standardized set of phrases and terms in the development of the intent statements. It is the ongoing responsibility of the standing committees to maintain, update and improve the intent and application statements over time. Any suggestions towards these endeavours are welcome.
Many of the hazards and undesirable events the Codes address, such as deterioration, spread of fire and heat loss, can only be minimized, retarded or controlled through compliance; other undesirable events such as the ignition of fire or structural collapse can never be prevented with absolute assurance. This is why the phrase “to limit the probability” is used in the intent statements rather than “to prevent.”
Using the phrase “to prevent” would mean that it is possible to comply fully with a requirement but still not meet its intent. The phrase “to limit the probability” was therefore adopted to clearly convey the notion that the Codes do not and cannot provide absolute protection.