Resilience and the Australian Building Code

On the 1st April 2014 the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), published the draft Discussion paper, Resilience of Buildings to Extreme Weather Events. The Discussion Paper is part of a review process to assess the adequacy of the National Construction Codes (NCC) for addressing extreme weather events and includes the opportunity for stakeholders to respond to 20 defined questions on this topic. These include:

  • The scope (including the hazard coverage) of the NCC
  • The treatment of existing buildings
  • Technical considerations concerning data use and reliable research
  • The role of government and insurance in resilience
  • The interaction between building and planning

The ABCB’s mission as agreed and stated in an Intergovernmental Agreement is to; address safety, health, amenity and sustainability issues in the design, construction and performance of buildings. Included in the interpretation of sustainability has been the NCC requirements for new buildings and plumbing systems to be designed and constructed to withstand extreme climate related natural hazard events, including wind, cyclones, rainfall, snow, bushfire and flood, as appropriate to their location. Traditionally the ABCB has relied on historic climate and weather data when setting standards for new buildings but this Discussion Paper is part of ongoing revisions that consider the appropriateness of including forward projections in the NCC.

There is a history and precedent of positive change to the NCC to improve the resilience of buildings. This has included responses to natural hazard events, such as Cyclones Althea 1971 and Tracy 1974, that led to improved standards for high wind design. Subsequent events, including Cyclones Vance, Larry and Yasi between 1999 – 2011, have shown the benefits of these changes.

Edge Environment commends the ABCB on this Discussion Paper and is preparing a response to the ABCB’s request. We encourage all our clients and friends to contribute to this important initiative that has the opportunity to catalyse a more resilient built environment for Australia.

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