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Introducation

Discuss About The National Construction Code OF Australia?

The National Construction Code (NCC) of Australia is a governmental initiative that was  created with a view to develop a single code for all the on-site construction requirements in the country (Board 2015). The NCC consists of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume one and two and the Plumbing Coda of Australia (PCA) as Volume three.

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) is the main code that assesses building approvals in Australia. It is a set of technical provisions for the construction and design of the buildings and other structures applicable throughout Australia. The provisions are uniform in nature. The BCA is produced and regulated by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). The reason behind frequent review and amendments in the BCA is twofold: firstly, to ensure that the building related works are being carried out in compliance with the Building Code. Secondly, the amendments are made with a view to avert any form of contractual disputes that may arise due to no-compliance (Dimyadi and Amor 2013). A joint initiative of the ABCB and the Australian government along with the state and territory governments is to address issues related to health, safety, sustainability and amenity through the National Construction Code (NCC) with an intention to attain universal minimum and consistent standards.

Several building standards have been developed for the construction and building industry to ensure safety, cost-effectiveness, efficiency in the building construction throughout the country. A standard refers to a document that includes all the guidelines, rules, and other detailed technical provisions that are essential while undertaking any activities within the building and the construction industry.

Some of the building and construction standards are provided in the regulations stipulated under the Building Code of Australia, which implies that those standards must be maintained or followed while undertaking any activities in the specified way (Daly, Cooper and Ma 2014). For instance, test methods and product standards in relation to the doors, roofing and windows; product standards and installation of smoke detectors; design standards that is necessary to ensure accessibility of the disabled; external and internal waterproofing of the residences.

The performance based National Construction Code (NCC) includes compliance solutions, which enables a plumbing, drainage and building installations to comply with the compliance level. The performance requirements lay down the minimum level of performance for all the drainage, plumbing and building installations. It further includes components, relevant materials, construction methods and design methods (Roetzel, Tsangrassoulis and Dietrich 2014). The requirements mentioned as the performance requirements calls for mandatory compliance.

Australian standards

There are three options for compliance set out under the Performance based Code which are as follows:

  • Performance based solution: It requires using of approved tools such as calculators, rating tools, etc, as per the intent of the BCA. This solution refers to any solution that fulfills the Performance requirements except the deemed-to-satisfy solutions. A performance solution may either differ wholly or partly from the deemed-to-satisfy provisions.
  • Deemed to satisfy solution: it is the use of any deemed-to-satisfy solutions or any referenced documents that is stipulated in the NCC. These provisions comprise the instances of products, designs factors, components, and installation and construction methods (Kibert 2016 ). If these requirements are followed and the building related works have been carried out in compliance with such requirements, it shall be deemed to be in compliance with the performance requirements of the NCC.
  • Verification method: the experts who are recognized consider that the approach satisfies the intent of the BCA but owing to its innovative nature, it cannot adequately be evaluated under the remaining methods.

The theory of performance-based design permits a designer to develop a single design solution that meets the requirements of individual building codes in any location, thus, satisfying the approved authorities. The underlying principle for introducing the performance-based codes is to enjoy all the benefits that the code prescribes for instance, the certainty of the techniques and the building materials along with flexibility by using the established performance requirements (Berardi 2017). The performance based code system requires that the society acts in agreement with the methods to assess the performance and the objectives for the built environment.

Rating tools are used to comply with the provisions stipulated under the BCA with a view to ensure the clients with best possible outcomes. Sometimes, these rating tools developed for voluntary purposes are often used in contracts. For instance, the local and state governments require to give Green star ratings in respect of certain buildings.

The implementation of performance based building aims at enhancing the consumer-orientation within then construction and building industry as while carrying out the building works it is the user requirements explained in the performance–based codes shall form the basis for all communication (Iyer-Raniga, Moore and Wasiluk 2014). The implementation of the performance-based code design environment enhances the in innovation in building designs and the associated products. In Australia, the BCA based on the performance-based code was drafted using several international models including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Sweden and the Netherlands.

In case of Residential buildings, the NCC applies to new buildings and any additions or alterations, the building size threshold shall be determined by the individual jurisdictions. The BCA Volume 2 stipulates requirements for constructing and designing domestic buildings that is, the Class 1 and 10 buildings and in addition, class 10 structures. In case of buildings that already exist, the building size threshold shall be determined by the individual jurisdictions and shall use the deemed –to-satisfy solutions hall in case of both alterations and additions.

In case of new commercial buildings, BCA volume 1 shall stipulate requirements for design and construction of commercial buildings that is, class 2-9 buildings including class 10 structures. In case of existing commercial buildings, major renovation is required and although several states have included the requirements for existing buildings but such requirements varies based on jurisdictions (Watson, Gad and Pham 2016). Since the NCC contains the certain requirements which when adopted by various territories and states of Australia, it is mandatory to comply with such requirements. The requirements are both enforceable locally or regionally with respect to construction and design with the assistance from the third parties. The NCC covers the following areas with respect to the construction and building industry:

  • HVAC
  • Envelope
  • Maintenance
  • Thermal Comfort
  • Lighting
  • Option for performance-based solution
  • Service water heating

NCC- A Performance based Code

In Australia, the building certifier is authorized to settle the type of calculation method that is acceptable and there are other simulation tools are available that enables compliance path for the entire building. The star rating that is used for regulating the thermal performance of homes can be measured by using the certain computer software packages such as FirstRate, BASIX, AccuRate, etc. In case of ensuring the compliance with respect to the Commercial building, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) strictly performs similar function as that of the mentioned systems.

The star rating is provided based on the actual performance of the building after it is certified. The governments or the licensed operators maintain all these compliance-checking tools. In order to implement the compliance tools for checking compliance level with respect to the residential buildings, the software compliance tools must be in accordance with the standards stipulated by the Nationwide Home Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) Software Accreditation Protocol (Pianella et al. 2016). In respect of the commercial buildings, the software tools must comply with the requirements accredited by the ABCB.

The BCA stipulates the national standards to ensure safety, amenity and sustainability while carry out the building works in the current and future communities. It stipulates the technical requirements with respect to the construction and design of the building and other structures (Ching and Winkel 2016). The matters covered by the BCA include fire resistance, structural soundness, energy efficiency, access related services and other provisions related to health and safety.

  • changes in facilities relating to the early childhood education and care in alignment with the BCA;
  • exemptions from certain BCA requirements in respect of the class 8 elcetrical network substations;
  • requirement for handrails in relation to private stairs;
  • structural software provisions;
  • changes required with respect to wet areas in the buildings;
  • update of referenced documents;
  • other minor technical changes;
  • The provision related to the use of software in computer for designing the structural framing systems of the building must comply with the ABCB Protocol for Structural Software;
  • With respect to slips, trips and falls changes the new requirements made in the BCA provisions, handrails must be present to private ramps and stairs which would prevent falls;
  • In the wet areas of the buildings, provisions must be incorporated that would decide which areas of the building should be waterproof or water resistant;
  • Minor changes have been introduced for the purpose of expansion, refinement, clarification and alignment;
  • new verification method has been incorporated to verify whether an emergency lighting system satisfies the safe illumination level that is stipulated under the Performance Requirement;
  • Class 8 electrical network substations have been exempted from the BCA requirements for a range of installations and facilities based on the control systems applied to the construction and design of the building through the state-based and national network provider legislation (Porter 2015).
  • Amendments include the requirements for a atmospheric contaminant monitoring system to be installed in a carpark.
  • In addition to the changes made in the both the volumes of the BCA provisions, a change has been made in the in Volume two with respect to the changes in the Australian Government’s Renewable Energy Target Scheme (Ching 2014). This change would result in the replacement of the term ‘Renewable Energy Certificate’ with ‘Small-scale Technology Certificate’.
  • The Swimming Pools Regulations, the Swimming Pools Act, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, the Rural Fires Act and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation have been incorporated in the referenced documents of the NSW Tables owing to the variations in the NSW references (Evans, Roshchanka and Graham 2017).
  • There have been changes made in respect of the Fire hazard properties by introducing provisions that would enable the identification of any materials that should treated as retardants;
  • The changes made with respect to the special fire protection where the definition has been updated to demonstrate the changes made in the referenced NSW State Environmental Planning policies;
  • There have been amendments with respect to various other clauses with a view to maintain consistency.
  • the introduction of verification methods with respect to weatherproofing and structural reliability;
  • expanding the sprinkler facilities for all new aged care facilities;
  • necessary changes made with respect to barrier provisions to improve useability;
  • New references and editions have been adopted in volumes One and two volumes which have included Windows in buildings-selection and installation. There has been inclusion of Termite Management- New Building work and Smoke Alarms as well.
  • Construction of Barriers have been introduced to prevent falls;
  • The incorporation of Residential and Low-rise Steel Framing has been introduced as an additional deemed-to-satisfy compliance for low-rise steel framing.
  • Other minor technical changes have been made which includes incorporation of openable windows, open spectator stands, necessary access to maintain all parts of the building (Ronchi and Nilsson 2014);
  • Obtaining compliance with the present performance requirements which is more important than raising the firmness of the energy efficiency provisions;
  • To assess or review the rating software for its implementation in tropical northern climates of the country as the modeling in those areas result in sub-optimal consequences.
  • To incorporate qualified measures into the performance requirements with a view o increase the certainty and clarity regarding what is required to do to act in compliance with the Building codes of Australia (Grondzik and Kwok 2014).

The main reason for the constant changes made in the building codes of the Australia is based on the developmental in the factors such as environment, technology, culture, economic relationships that competes for recognition. With the advancement in the technology and the living standards of the Australian people, it has become necessary to enhance safety, amenity, health and sustainability of the society and the individuals residing within the society. The building codes of Australia or the building regulations has been set up to outline the minimum level of safety with respect to the constructed objects that were designed to safeguard public health, safety and welfare of the community in relation to the occupancy and construction of the building and structures (Coyle et al. 2016).

The National Construction Code has been brought to regulation by adopting Territory, state and commonwealth legislations. It is subject to annual revision and the modified version comes into effect every year in May. With the establishment of the building codes since 1964 till the present code, there have been changes which led to the inclusion of new requirements for energy sufficiency. It further includes new provisions related to the incorporation of the requirements for health, safety and amenity. The processes and policy used by the Australian Building Code to make changes in the building codes or to facilitate any development in the building laws of the country (Clarke and Hensen 2015).

Rating tools to evaluate the compliance to NCC

The International Building Code (IBC) is a model code that has been developed by the International Code Council (ICC). The IBC aims at addressing the concerns related to health and safety for buildings on the basis of performance a prescriptive related requirements. The statutory provisions stipulated under the Code aims at safeguarding the safety and health of the public on one hand, and on the other hand, it aims at averting both the preferential treatment and costs that is incurred on the methods of construction or the specified material required for the construction. The International Building Code is primarily concerned with fire prevention with respect to the construction and design of a occupied and completed building. It further requires the design of the building to incorporate proper accessibility of the structural and disabled stability. The IBC often refer to other codes such as the Plumbing Code, International Mechanical Code, the National Fire Protection Association and the National Electric Code. Hence, in case any municipal laws adopt the provisions of the IBC, it adopts the other parts that are referred to by the IBC as well. For instance, most often counties that adopts such IBC provisions tend to mechanical, plumbing and electric codes along with the adoption of the statutory provisions of the IBC (Kabak et al. 2014).

The essential provisions stipulated in the IBC codes with respect to the design and construction of the building includes means of egress, existing structures, and accessibility.

Means of egress – this phrase refers to the capability to exit the structure in the event, any form of emergency takes place such as fire. The means of egress is divided into three parts, namely, the exit itself, the path of travel to an exit and the path that leads to the safe exit outside the building structure. There are requirements related to possible hazards like industries that deals with toxic and flammable chemicals.

Accessibility- it refers to the accommodation of people who are physically challenged. It includes effective planning relating to the building entry, parking spaces, elevators, transportation and restrooms.

Existing structures- the requirements specified in the building code becomes applicable to the construction of new buildings. It also includes any additions or alterations; changes in the use of the buildings; demolition of buildings or parts of the building which ceases to have any economic use. In case of any alterations and additional construction to any building shall be done in compliance with the provisions stipulated under section 101.2 of the IBC. The existing buildings are not exempted from the application of the provisions stipulated under the IBC. This ensures that any new addition or alterations made in the existing building has been done in compliance with the requirements mentioned under the code and that such alterations or additions made have complied with the safety levels stipulated by the law.

Tools used for assessing compliance

As discussed earlier, the changes made in the building codes attribute to the factors like environmental, technologies, cultural and economic relationship that competes for recognition. According to the Australia Building Codes Board (ABCB), a policy of consultation was developed as it was considered essential to introduce a relevant and contemporary construction code, which would aim at delivering better and improved societal results in terms of health, safety, sustainability and amenity within the built environment (Chauvin, Pauls and Strobl 2016). According to the ABCB, the development of the consultation policy leads to the modification and review of the initial recommendations related to the construction and design of the structure, thus, ensuring to produce better and improved results.

However, this policy had been subject to several criticism in that consultation from parties who represents broad interests is often outnumbered owing to the inappropriate influence from the interests group, under such circumstances, the consultation policy may create better outcomes but at the same time, it can give rise to partiality or biasness. As per the National Construction Code, it engages in consultation with the industry stakeholders and the government with a view to draw input from such authorities. It further seeks assistance and advice from the building professionals, local governments, research communities, special interest groups and the community.

In the global context, it is imperative for every country to work together with a view to share the advanced technology and the best practices. International development bodies such as the International building code, which includes, Plumbing Code, International Mechanical Code, the National Fire Protection Association and the National Electric Code have been established to bring together people from across the world for the purpose of setting out certain essential building standards with respect to building and construction (Chauvin, Pauls and Strobl 2016).

As discussed earlier that the essential provisions that are stipulated under the IBC include fire prevention, accessibility and electric prevention, means of egress and making facilities for the people who are physically challenged. In the Building Code of Australia volume 1, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) have incorporated provisions related to fire resistance that aims at safeguarding people from sustaining any injury due to fire in the building. The fire resistance provisions stipulate that the construction of the building must maintain structural stability to enable the occupant to evacuate safely in the event of fire emergency an allow fire brigade intervention.

Change in the environment of the Building Codes of Australia

The performance requirements in the context of fire resistance include elements that maintain structural stability that is appropriate during a fire emergency such as the fire hazard, fire load, and height of the building, evacuation time and fire brigade intervention. In case the building solution is to act in compliance with the Deemed-to-satisfy provisions, the performance requirements that should be satisfied must include C1.1to C1.12 and C3.1 to C3.17 of the performance requirements.

In regards to the accessibility and egress, the provisions stipulated under DF1 of the BCA VOL 1, the provision endows the occupant with equitable, safe and dignified access to a building or have access to use the facilities and services within a building. The building must be safe so far, it is reasonable to keep it safe and provide the occupants sufficient time to evacuate safely in case of any emergency (Clarke and Hensen 2015).

The performance requirements provided with respect to the access and egress shall include provisions stipulating that people should have access to the building from the road boundary and have easy access to any public or work spaces; it requires enabling people to use the accommodation and facilities for the purpose of the personal hygiene. The provision enables the people to move safely within the building and the walking surface must have safe gradients. The doors were installed to avert the risk of the egress being impeded or the risk of being trapped in the building (Grondzik and Kwok 2014).

The changes made in the BCA in 2012 and 2015 incorporated provisions to provide handrails to prevent falls, thus, assisting people with stability while using the stairways and ramps. A barrier was provided to prevent people from falling of the roofs or through any open windows. Further, exits must be provided within building that would allow the occupants to evacuate safely, in case of emergency. The height of the building and the storey of the building should be taken into consideration while evacuating the occupants in case of fire emergency in the building.

The changes made in the BCA with respect to damp and weatherproofing stipulates that the occupants must be safeguarded from injury or illness or any damage caused by the surface water or by any external moisture entering into a building. The performance requirements for safeguarding the people from such damages include the prevention of water penetration through external walls, which must be complied with while constructing the building.

Conclusion

The objectives of the BCA are to maintain acceptable standards to achieve safety, structural sufficiency, amenity and health of the occupants within the building for the benefit of the community at present and in the future. The objectives and goals of the BCA extends to the extent so long such goals purports to serve public interest and is cost-effective. The objectives must be easily comprehended and must be convenient in its application, thus, the provisions act in compliance with the statutory provisions stipulated under the International Building Codes. 

References

Board, A.B.C., 2015. National Construction Code. ABCB.

Dimyadi, J. and Amor, R., 2013. Automated Building Code Compliance Checking–Where is it at. Proceedings of CIB WBC, pp.172-185.

Daly, D., Cooper, P. and Ma, Z., 2014. Understanding the risks and uncertainties introduced by common assumptions in energy simulations for Australian commercial buildings. Energy and Buildings, 75, pp.382-393.

Roetzel, A., Tsangrassoulis, A. and Dietrich, U., 2014. Impact of building design and occupancy on office comfort and energy performance in different climates. Building and environment, 71, pp.165-175.

Kibert, C.J., 2016. Sustainable construction: green building design and delivery. John Wiley & Sons.

Berardi, U., 2017. A cross-country comparison of the building energy consumptions and their trends. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 123, pp.230-241.

Board, A.B.C., 2013. National Construction Code Series Volume 1, Building Code of Australia 2013, Class 2 to 9 Buildings. Canberra: Australian Building Codes Board, 163.

Iyer-Raniga, U., Moore, T. and Wasiluk, K., 2014. Residential building sustainability rating tools in Australia. Environment Design Guide, (80), p.1.

Watson, K., Gad, E. and Pham, L., 2016. Reliability assessment of tests for determining structural performance. In Australasian Structural Engineering Conference: ASEC 2016 (p. 250). Engineers Australia.

Pianella, A., Bush, J., Chen, Z., Williams, N.S. and Aye, L., 2016, December. Green roofs in Australia: review of thermal performance and associated policy development. In Architectural Science Association Conference 2016.

Ching, F.D. and Winkel, S.R., 2016. Building Codes Illustrated: A Guide to Understanding the 2015 International Building Code. John Wiley & Sons.

Porter, K.A., 2015. Safe enough? A building code to protect our cities as well as our lives. Earthquake Spectra.

Ching, F.D., 2014. Building construction illustrated. John Wiley & Sons.

Evans, M., Roshchanka, V. and Graham, P., 2017. An international survey of building energy codes and their implementation. Journal of Cleaner Production, 158, pp.382-389.

Ronchi, E. and Nilsson, D., 2014, February. Modelling total evacuation strategies for high-rise buildings. In Building Simulation (Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 73-87). Springer.

Grondzik, W.T. and Kwok, A.G., 2014. Mechanical and electrical equipment for buildings. John Wiley & Sons.

Coyle III, E.C., Isett, K.R., Rondone, J., Harris, R., Howell, M.C.B., Brandus, K., Hughes, G., Kerfoot, R. and Hicks, D., 2016. Making homes healthy: International Code Council processes and patterns. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 22(4), pp.338-347.

Clarke, J.A. and Hensen, J.L.M., 2015. Integrated building performance simulation: Progress, prospects and requirements. Building and Environment, 91, pp.294-306.

Kabak, M., Köse, E., K?r?lmaz, O. and Burmao?lu, S., 2014. A fuzzy multi-criteria decision making approach to assess building energy performance. Energy and Buildings, 72, pp.382-389.

Chauvin, J., Pauls, J. and Strobl, L., 2016. Building codes: An often overlooked determinant of health. Journal of public health policy, 37(2), pp.136-148.

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