Buildings and waste management: Part 1


While our collective consciousness makes us aware of the environmental footprint we are leaving, we are still far from a zero-waste society. Waste management remains a reality that concerns us all and to which designers, managers and owners must adapt. Construction and real estate stakeholders should be aware of the design and construction requirements specific to waste management, whether it is the landfilling of waste, the treatment of recyclable materials and, in recent years, the treatment of compostable materials.

Globally, Canada is one of the largest producers of waste with an annual average of 777 kg per capita, ahead of the United States with 773 kg per capita. This list illustrates the road to improving our practices. These data also demonstrate the importance of providing adequate space for sound waste management.

Where to find out?

Although the Quebec Construction Code, Chapter I – Building, which incorporates the 2010 National Building Code with the Quebec amendments (NBC 2010 mod. Quebec) provides construction criteria for the management of residual materials in a building, the obligation to provide the necessary equipment comes from other regulations. Indeed, some municipal by-laws may require waste management equipment for any type of building, whether it is:

• existing and unprocessed;

• existing transformed; or

• in design (new).

The first step therefore begins with the municipal authorities. Municipal regulations frequently
provide for:

• what waste management equipment is required (storage rooms, waste disposal, etc.); and

• what are the design criteria established by each municipality or borough (area, location, etc.).

In addition, since waste collection is carried out by municipal departments, they have knowledge specific to their territory to establish certain design criteria, such as:

• the required surfaces of the waste storage rooms;

• the equipment required for waste management; and

• certain design and construction criteria.

Who must be informed?

For a construction or alteration project, designers, as well as building owners, must be informed about the regulations applicable to waste management in order for a building.

It should be noted that some municipalities have health regulations that may apply to existing buildings without any alteration work being carried out. For example, in Montréal, the Regulation respecting the health, maintenance and security of dwellings (By-law No. 03-096) applies throughout the territory of the City of Montréal and requires, in particular:

• for a building with more than 11 dwellings, that it be equipped with:

  • a ventilated room for the storage of residual materials; or
  • closed containers stored in a parking garage [Reg. 03-096, s. 32.1].

• the waste storage rooms must be:

  • insulated from the rest of the building by fire separations with a fire resistance rating of at least 45 minutes if the building has no more than three (3) storeys in building height; and
  • insulated from the rest of the building by fire separations with a fire resistance rating of at least 1h in other cases [Reg. 03-096, s. 64.40].

Since these regulations can apply to unprocessed buildings, designers and building owners are directly concerned. So, take the time to validate the requirements applicable to each municipality.


Figure 1  – Waste management scheme for a building


Neglecting regulations can have various consequences that should be avoided. Without covering all the conceivable consequences, let us note here the most common ones:

• owners may receive correction notices after the completion of a construction project, usually with penalties, correction deadlines, etc.;

• once the construction work is completed, owners may have to correct a situation by installing regulatory waste management equipment, which can lead to its own inconvenience, such as:

  • carry out corrective work while the building is occupied;
  • in condominiums, it may be necessary to buy back spaces already sold to install the required equipment, most likely parking or storage areas, but it may be necessary to build engineering voids and mechanics (sprinklers, waste chute, mechanical ventilation, refrigeration system, etc.). This equipment may impinge on premises already sold, with legal consequences.

• professionals may be exposed to legal action.

In the next newsletter, we will see what design requirements professionals need to consider to ensure that the building will comply with the completion of its construction.


Do you have questions about this article? Contact the author!

By Jean Guérette, CEP, Technical consultant, Codes and Standards Consulting team

Photos: Pixabay

By |2019-11-11T19:04:59+00:00November 7th, 2019|News|0 Comments