Standards 101

How to use standards for climate change adaptation

What is a standard?

A standard is a document that outlines a list of rules, or a describes a process. If followed, different people doing the same task should get the same results.

A standard can be mandatory or voluntary. If used correctly, and checked by a third party, a standard can help make sure that products are safe to use, people have the proper skills to do their job, or that a building will stay standing for a long time.

Anyone can write a standard. When a private business writes a standard, we call it an industry or private standard. But, when a Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) develops a standard, we call it a National Standard of Canada (NSC). 

We also have groups that work with countries across the world to develop standards. These groups work with volunteers to develop International Standards. One you might have heard of is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

NSCs and International Standards are written by experts who follow a set process to make sure the results help as many people as possible.

How can we use standards to adapt to climate change?

Our climate is changing. As we learn to deal with these changes, we also need to change the way we write standards. Most standards assume a stable climate; something that we can no longer rely on.

Knowing this, organizations across the world are now writing new standards or updating old ones to help engineers, construction workers, health care workers, and others prepare our country for extreme weather and changing climate patterns. 

For example, we now have standards that:

  • Help protect homes against high winds and tornadoes;
  • Help towns and cities avoid flooding when building new residential areas; and
  • Help protect buildings in Canada’s north from wildfires.

Where to find standards for adapting to climate change

The Standards Council of Canada has a list of standards that can help you adapt your community to climate change.  Download this report and take a look at pages 19-20.