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    Extreme weather prompts National Construction Code review

    Nathan Johnson

    Australia’s recent extreme weather events have motivated the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to review construction standards for new buildings in regards to weather resilience.

    The ABCB Chair, John Thwaites, highlighted in a recent media statement that although new buildings are designed and constructed in accordance to a National Construction Code to reflect the building’s location, constant monitoring and assessment is needed to ensure the code is efficient and appropriate. 

    "New buildings are designed and constructed to withstand climate related hazards such as cyclones and extreme winds, intense rain, bushfire, snow and flood, as appropriate to their location,” Thwaites said.

    “However, over the past few years extreme weather events have resulted in devastating winds, floods and bushfires in many parts of Australia, which have led to the destruction and damage of a number of buildings.  It is appropriate to take stock and determine whether new buildings are sufficiently resilient to natural disasters associated with extreme weather events.”

    Thwaites says that the ABCB is constantly reviewing the National Construction Code, particularly after major hazard events, in order to assess the adequacy of the code in protecting the safety of the community. 

    The ABCB have released a discussion paper that documents this on-going process of monitoring, and have called for feedback from industry experts and those affected by extreme weather to ensure that building standard inadequacies don’t go unnoticed.

    The ABCB General Manager, Neil Savery said "it is appropriate for the ABCB to seek feedback and consider whether other hazards ought to be addressed in the National Construction Code.  However any change to the code needs to be carefully researched, satisfy stringent impact assessment requirements and be subject to further public consideration.” 

    Savery admits that although there have been calls to simply make buildings stronger and more durable, a balance between affordability and an increased weather resilience needs to be met.

    “Buildings need to be appropriately located and a sensible balance struck given that the increased cost of making them more resilient needs to be balanced against the ability of the community to pay.” Savery explained.

    The discussion paper is available at www.abcb.gov.au and comments close on 1 July 2014.

    Image: Gary Ramadge

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