Standards Council of Canada approves new national standard to help address the effects of climate change on Canada’s North

The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and CSA Group are pleased to announce the publication of a new National Standard of Canada (NSC) that will support the adaptation of northern infrastructure to a changing climate and provide tangible – and long-term – improvements for those living in Canada’s North. Buildings in Permafrost Supported on Thermosyphon Foundations is the first of four innovative standards that will help address the impact of climate change in the North – a key priority for the Government of Canada.

The Buildings in Permafrost Supported on Thermosyphon Foundations standard is designed to allow Canadians living in the North to better adapt to the changing environment through the use of thermosyphon foundations. Thermosyphons keep the ground frozen and stable in cold climates by transferring the heat from the ground to the air when appropriate temperature differentials prevail. Heated structures built on permafrost without mitigative systems, such as thermosyphons, can degrade the permafrost and destabilize a structure’s foundation. The new standard will ensure the stability of thermosyphon-supported foundations of new buildings constructed on permafrost and the future safety of buildings in Canada’s North.

“Our Government is taking action on behalf of Northern Canadians, by working with our partners to put new standards in place that will help adapt homes and buildings in the North to withstand the effects of a changing climate,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council. “These new standards will lead to more structurally sound buildings that provide greater safety to Northerners. This is just one of the many ways our Government is taking action to address climate change.”

As part of SCC’s Northern Infrastructure Standardization Initiative (NISI), the NSC was developed by CSA Group, a leading standards development organization accredited by SCC. A project led by SCC, with support from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and funding from the Government of Canada’s Clean Air Agenda, this project’s aim is to work with Northerners to put in place effective standards to address climate risks inherent in the design, planning and management of Northern infrastructure.

“With funding from the Government of Canada for NISI, SCC is pleased to support the development of, and access to, these critical standards for the North,” said SCC’s CEO, John Walter. “Coordinated effort between SCC, CSA Group and the Government of Canada, along with expertise from the Northern technical experts working to develop the NISI standards, has been invaluable to the initiative’s success.”

Changes in temperature, precipitation and typical weather patterns have been documented throughout Northern Canada. The effects of these changes to climate and weather patterns will cause significant shifts in permafrost conditions and hydrogeological characteristics of certain building sites, which will directly impact infrastructure in the North and the people who live there.

Addressing the effects of these changes is a priority for the Government of Canada, and this new standard is an important step in ensuring the stability of existing and future infrastructure in Northern communities. It is one of the many ways SCC is working collaboratively with the Northern Advisory Committee (NAC), comprised of representatives from Northern territorial and regional governments and other members of Canada’s standardization network to support the priorities of the federal government and improve the daily lives of Canadians, including those living in the North.

“CSA Group is proud to be able to participate in this exciting initiative that will have such a positive impact for people in Northern Canada,” said Bonnie Rose, President, Standards, CSA Group. “This standard offers best practices to help manage and mitigate the risks associated with climate change, and will contribute to building a solid future for communities in the Far North.”

SCC selected CSA Group in November 2012 to develop four standards as part of NISI. The Buildings in Permafrost Supported on Thermosyphon Foundationsstandard is the first of these standards. SCC was granted $2.5 million over five years from the Canadian government for the implementation of the program, which will contribute not only to the adaptation of critical codes and standards to address the effects of climate change on new infrastructure, but also retrofits, maintenance and repairs to existing infrastructure.

Exterior Wall of Building.

Working to stabilize and provide a solid building foundation in permafrost areas, properly functioning thermosyphons (the long, pipe-like items shown in photo) enable much of the essential infrastructure in Canada’s North. This new National Standard of Canada is designed to provide guidance and requirements for the lifecycle of thermosyphon foundations.

Photo credit: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

About SCC

SCC is a Crown corporation and a portfolio of Industry Canada. With the goal of enhancing Canada’s economic competitiveness and social well-being, SCC leads and facilitates the development and use of national and international standards. SCC also coordinates Canadian participation in standards development, and identifies strategies to advance Canadian standardization efforts. Accreditation services are provided by SCC to various customers, including product certifiers and testing laboratories. SCC represents Canada at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and oversees CANC/IEC. For additional information on SCC, visit www.scc.ca, or send inquiries to [email protected].

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]


September 19, 2014