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Inclusive and Accessible Buildings Can be Constructed at No Additional Cost

According to new research from HCMA architecture and the Rick Hansen Foundation, inclusive and accessible new buildings can be constructed at no additional cost, through thoughtful planning and design.

The report, titled Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification, Cost Comparison Feasibility Study, found that projects could achieve a Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) certification at no additional cost, and a Gold rating—the Foundation’s highest level of certification—if construction costs were increased by one per cent.

“As it stands, the greatest barrier to meaningful accessibility in Canada’s built environment is an attitudinal one, and there is an unspoken assumption that accessible buildings are expensive and difficult to build. This report unequivocally shows that this is not the case,” said Brad McCannell, Vice President of Access and Inclusion at the Rick Hansen Foundation.

RHFAC rates the level of meaningful access of the built environment, keeping in mind the user experience of people with varying disabilities affecting their mobility, vision and hearing.

Photo courtesy of Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification, Cost Comparison Feasibility Study

To date, over 1,200 buildings across Canada have been rated through the program, according to the research. Public and private sites, as well as multi-unit residential buildings can achieve ‘RHF Accessibility Certified’ or ‘RHF Accessibility Certified Gold’ levels by scoring at least 60 per cent or 80 per cent on the RHFAC Rating Survey.

The Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification, Cost Comparison Feasibility Study compares the RHFAC program with Canada’s 2015 National Building Code (NBC) and the 2018 Ontario Building Code (OBC).

The findings demonstrate that NBC and OBC on their own do not meet RHF Accessibility Certification, but that certification can be achieved at no cost impact to building owners, developers and designers.

The report also finds that on average, there is only a 1 per cent construction cost increase to build to RHF Accessibility Certified Gold, when meeting NBC or OBC.

 

Photo courtesy of Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification, Cost Comparison Feasibility Study

Office buildings would incur the smallest cost increase to achieve RHF Accessibility Certified Gold at approximately 0.4 per cent. Meaningful accessibility can be achieved with minimal cost impact through a commitment to thoughtful planning and design.

“Incorporating meaningful accessibility into buildings is currently perceived as an added bonus in our industry, when in fact this should form an integral aspect of all building designs. We hope the findings from this research will help to educate people on the feasibility of embedding accessibility into all new buildings through thoughtful and considered planning and design,” said Darryl Condon, Managing Principal at HCMA.

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