SCC works with communities, standards development organizations and experts from across northern Canada to help them develop standards that consider climate change impacts in: 

  • northern infrastructure design
  • planning 
  • management 

These standards are developed under the Northern Infrastructure Standardization Initiative (NISI). They help building owners and operators, as well as those responsible for public and community infrastructure, to build and maintain infrastructure in a changing climate.



Building a climate-resilient future with northern standards

Canada’s North is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. Northern communities and infrastructure are dealing with the effects of climate change, including: 

  • changing temperatures 
  • changing precipitation patterns
  • permafrost degradation
  • coastal erosion


In the Northwest Territories alone, the risk of potential loss of infrastructure is estimated at $1.3 billion across 33 communities. This means the economic losses likely amount to about $51 million every year.  The North urgently needs mechanisms to help adapt its infrastructure and reduce its vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.



Standards solutions for the North

The creation of the Northern Advisory Committee (NAC) has been key to NISI’s success. The committee is made up of representatives from:

  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut
  • Yukon
  • Nunavik 
  • Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada


In consultation with northern practitioners and regulators, committee members confirmed the climatic impacts and infrastructure categories requiring immediate attention. The Committee has also contributed to the selection of partners and technical experts that develops and updates northern standards and codes.


We are building on this committee’s expertise to create roadmaps and identify solutions. The aim is to reduce the North’s financial vulnerability and ensure the continued health and safety of Canadians.


The knowledge and tools developed through the Northern Infrastructure Standardization Initiative are facilitating the adaptation and mitigation of climate change to northern built infrastructure, while truly meeting the needs of northern communities in ensuring sustainable and quality infrastructure. 

--Nelson Pisco, Director, Technical Services, Department of Community and Government Services, Government of Nunavut and NAC Chair


For more information about NISI, email

Cover page - building a climate resilient future with northern standards

Building a climate resilient future with northern standards

This brochure provides a broad overview of ‘By-the-north, for-the-north’ Infrastructure Standards designed to help building owners and operators, as well as those responsible for public and community infrastructure, build and maintain infrastructure in a changing climate.


Read the brochure

NISI standards

CSA S500:21 Thermosyphon Foundations for Buildings in Permafrost Regions

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. This standard helps to ensure the ongoing stability of new buildings constructed on permafrost with thermosyphon-supported foundations in Canada’s North. 


CSA S501:21 Moderating the Effects of Permafrost Degradation on Existing Building Foundations

Building on permafrost can be difficult because degradation to the permafrost can destabilize the structure. As temperatures continue to warm, more buildings will face challenges.   This standard outlines the steps to maintain, assess and mitigate the effects on existing buildings. 


CSA Plus 4011 Technical Guide: Infrastructure in Permafrost: A Guideline for Climate Change Adaptation

This guidance document supports decision makers – who may not be experts in permafrost - who have a role in planning, purchasing, developing, or operating community infrastructure in permafrost regions. This guide is intended to equip decision makers with the ability to ensure that the impacts of climate change on permafrost are considered for new community infrastructure.


CSA Plus 4011.1 Technical Guide: Design and Construction Considerations for Foundations in Permafrost Regions

This guideline accompanies CSA PLUS 4011 and provides more detailed technical information on the attributes of the various foundation systems, selection criteria, ground conditions, and related issues that should be considered with building foundations in permafrost regions.

CSA S502:21 Managing Changing Snow Load Risks for Buildings in Canada's North 

Arctic regions have seen an increase in snowfall and extreme snow events. These events cause excess loads (or weights) on buildings  which can lead to structural damage, such as a collapsed roof. This standard informs communities about safe snow removal methods for rooftops to help ensure the safety of buildings and occupants. 


CSA W205 Erosion and Sedimentation Management for Northern Community Infrastructure

Northern communities have seen increased ground erosion, which can lead to unstable foundations for nearby buildings. This standard provides steps to manage erosion and sedimentation risks in coastal and lakeshore environments, open-channel environments, and terrestrial environments. 


CSA S504 Fire Resilient Planning for Northern Communities

Many northern communities, particularly isolated communities, have limited resources to protect themselves against accidental wildfires (which are being compounded by climate change). This standard helps individuals plan for fire resilience by providing requirements for community planning, building design, appropriate materials for new designs, and more. 


CSA S505 Techniques for Dealing with High Winds and Snow Drifting as it Pertains to Northern Infrastructure

Community members have noted that wind conditions have been changing as a result of the warming climate. This standard provides guidance to building operators and owners when dealing with changing wind patterns and strengths, and their impacts on snow drifting.

BNQ 2501-500 Geotechnical Site Investigations for Building Foundations in Permafrost Zones

This standard establishes a consistent methodology for performing geotechnical site investigations so that the results can be used to design building foundations with due consideration to the prevailing conditions at the work site. It is a foundational reference which is an important complement to the existing NISI standards. 


BNQ 9701-500 Risk-based Approach to Community Planning in Northern Regions 

When determining the best places to build new community infrastructure, it is important to identify the hazards and vulnerabilities of potential construction areas, as well as the potential future climate risks.  This standard will help communities understand the pros and cons of developing infrastructure in different areas.

CSA S503:21 Community Drainage System Planning, Design, and Maintenance in Northern Communities  

Community drainage planning in the North is unique for a wide variety of reasons. This standard takes these issues into consideration and provides guidance on planning, design, construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of drainage systems in Canada’s North. 


CSA W203 Planning, Design, Operation and Maintenance of Wastewater Treatment in Northern Communities using Lagoon and Wetland Systems

Most northern communities use lagoons to store wastewater for a significant portion of the year. This standard helps communities with all the lifecycle phases of a wastewater system, from planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and all the way to closure/remediation of wastewater facilities and wetlands.


CSA R111 Solid Waste Sites in Northern Communities: From Design to Closure

Solid waste management in the North faces unique challenges given the geographic, climatic, transportation and resource differences between southern and northern Canada. This standard will help with the sustainable design, operation, and management of northern solid waste facilities, considering all phases of their life-cycles, and assessing current risks with respect to service life extension.

NISI 101 Guides



Brochure on landscape development sustainability maps

Community Planning



Fire resiliency