29 Jan 2019

In this post, we will look at two key Ontario Building Code changes for home regarding insulation requirements – continuous insulation and attic insulation.

The building code in Ontario evolves over time to incorporate new standards and practices in the industry. One of the key areas of focus for the building code lately has been on energy saving initiatives. One of the bigger changes has been related to insulation in new builds or additions with permits issued as of the start of 2017.

Continuous Insulation

The principle of continuous insulation means that a monolithic style of insulation must be installed that eliminates thermal bridging. Monolithic means continuous without gaps. Thermal bridging is a process where energy is lost through materials that are not covered with overlapping insulation. For example, the wood studs in your basement that contain insulation filled between them, but not over them, will allow some energy loss to the outside through the wood studs themselves.

This loss of energy is known as thermal bridging and has been targeted by the building code as an area that can be improved by implementing continuous insulation.

Continuous insulation can be achieved in the home by installing rigid board stock insulation all around the perimeter of the basement even before the studs are put in. This allows the entire basement wall to have monolithic insulation that contains no gaps and therefore allows no thermal bridging. Further insulation would still be put in after the studs are put up, and so the basement would have two good layers of insulation.

Attic Insulation Requirements

Another area where the Ontario Building Code has seen changes is in attic insulation requirements. Attic insulation value requirements have been raised so that the density for new homes and additions in Ontario now has been raised from R-50 to R-60.

Choosing Energy Efficient Upgrades

These building code changes require a certain standard of energy efficiency in new builds, additions, or major renovations. The good news is that you can choose a package of energy saving improvements to meet the standard and so there is not one specific change that has to be adopted. Some of the options for meeting the standards of energy efficiency in new builds, additions and major renovations include: installing an HRV, adding to your attic insulation in order to increase the R value, installing continuous insulation to avoid thermal bridging or installing a drain heat recovery unit.

If your basement is already insulated, and the framing is not being taken down, then this area of insulation does not need to be improved to meet the standard during a renovation. However, if the framing of the basement is being redone, then it’s a good idea to improve the insulation at the same time in order to meet the standard but also to improve the energy efficiency of your home and save you money on your energy bills.