New CSA Group Standard Addressing Permafrost Degradation on Existing Infrastructure in Canada’s Far North Now Available for Online Public Review

CSA Group, a leading provider of standards development services, today announces that the second of four new standards to help address the impact of climate change in Northern Canada as part of the Standards Council of Canada’s (SCC’s) Northern Infrastructure Standardization Initiative (NISI) is now available for a 60-day public review online. The draft Moderating the Effects of Permafrost Degradation on Existing Structures standard is available for public and stakeholder feedback by visiting http://publicreview.csa.ca.

Northern infrastructure is highly vulnerable to climate change issues such as degrading permafrost, as well as changes in temperatures and precipitation patterns that are leading to denser, heavier, wetter snow and causing greater loading on structures. To help address this issue, CSA Group announced in 2012 that it had been selected by SCC to develop four new standards as part of NISI, a joint project being led by SCC with support from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).  Through NISI, standards are being developed to address the effects of climate change on new infrastructure, as well as retrofits, maintenance and repairs to existing infrastructure.

Permafrost is soil and sediment that is frozen more than two consecutive years, while the active layer is the upper part of the soil environment that thaws every summer. Permafrost degradation refers to a decrease in the thickness or areal extent of the permafrost. Building on permafrost can be difficult because any degradation to the permafrost can cause the structure to become unstable. Ideally, building foundations in permafrost are designed to mitigate or accommodate unstable ground conditions. However, many of the existing buildings in the north were designed without considering climate change or, if it was considered, the buildings were not adequately designed to account for the rate and extent of permafrost degradation that is now projected.

This draft Moderating the Effects of Permafrost Degradation on Existing Structures standard is intended to complement existing building codes and provides guidance to help determine viable options for conserving permafrost under existing structures, provides techniques for remediating buildings affected by permafrost degradation, assess engineering techniques for conserving permafrost as well as monitoring and maintenance practices to conserve or avoid permafrost degradation beneath existing structures. This standard is meant to provide best practices to make sure the effects of permafrost degradation on existing buildings are minimized.

The other three standards in development by CSA Group as part of NISI include:

  • Thermosyphon foundations for buildings in permafrost regions;
  • Managing changing snow load risks in Canada’s North; and,
  • Community drainage system planning, design and maintenance in northern communities

The standards developed as a result of this initiative will address current built infrastructure challenges, but will also contribute to reinforcing the fabric and quality of life in Canada’s North.

CSA Group procedures require that a standard be made available for a 60-day public review to permit individuals and organizations materially affected to have an opportunity to participate in its development. This helps ensure the standard reflects the consensus of opinion of experts and interested parties. Upon consideration of the feedback, decisions will be made on which changes are required, if any, before the standard is approved by CSA Group’s Northern Built Infrastructure (NBI) technical committee and then submitted to SCC. CSA Group appreciates and welcomes the involvement and feedback of affected individuals, organizations and stakeholders.

About CSA Group

CSA Group is an independent, not-for-profit member-based association dedicated to advancing safety, sustainability and social good. We are an internationally-accredited standards development and testing & certification organization. We also provide consumer product evaluation and education & training services. Our broad range of knowledge and expertise includes: industrial equipment, plumbing & construction, electro-medical & healthcare, appliances & gas, alternative energy, lighting and sustainability. The CSA mark appears on billions of products around the world.


Allison Hawkins
Manager, Corporate Affairs
CSA Group
[email protected]


March 20, 2014