Arup Thoughts: Industry engagement is essential

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has recently published proposed changes to Section J of the National Construction Code, which gives minimum requirements for energy efficiency in the design and construction of new buildings.

12/08/2015


The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has recently published proposed changes to Section J of the National Construction Code, which gives minimum requirements for energy efficiency in the design and construction of new buildings. Courtesy: ArupThe Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has recently published proposed changes to Section J of the National Construction Code, which gives minimum requirements for energy efficiency in the design and construction of new buildings.

It's also intended that the code amendment cycle is stretched from one year to three years, to provide stability and so that the industry doesn't continually have to adjust.

I've been working with a group of industry leaders to submit a formal response to the ABCB. In short, we're not happy. In an attempt to quantify performance requirements and promote innovation, the proposed changes would in fact reduce the stringency of compliance and introduce complexities and opportunities for manipulation.

Our analysis has indicated that a significant number of poor building designs, which would not meet current requirements, could sail straight through the proposed compliance barriers. We certainly do not want minimum standards to reduce energy efficiency, especially if those standards are then in place for the next three years.

So where did it all go wrong?

The draft changes were published in early June with a two-month window for public comment. Many industry professionals were unaware that there were plans afoot to change the energy compliance landscape so drastically. There's a sense that the whole exercise is being rushed. It seems that industry engagement has been neglected and is seen more as a 'final check' than an essential part of the evolution and improvement of our building codes.

The changes could have achieved so much more had there been genuine consultation. The 17 industry sustainability experts involved in the working group I've been part of have a wealth of construction industry experience that ensures a pragmatic approach to building compliance. We have the analytical skills to assess the quantitative impacts of compliance changes. Most importantly, we all want to see high-quality, high-performance building stock in Australia's built environment.

So perhaps it's time to stop referring to other industry experts as 'competitors' and start pooling experience and resources to make a positive impact in our cities.

- David Barker is the building physics leader, Arup where he provides specialist consulting advice in the areas of building energy, building envelope, internal environment quality, external microclimate and wind comfort. This article originally appeared on Arup Thoughts. Arup is a CFE Media content partner. 



Product of the Year
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
40 Under Forty: Get Recognized
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
MEP Giants Program
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
November 2018
Emergency power requirements, salary survey results, lighting controls, fire pumps, healthcare facilities, and more
October 2018
Approaches to building engineering, 2018 Commissioning Giants, integrated project delivery, improving construction efficiency, an IPD primer, collaborative projects, NFPA 13 sprinkler systems.
September 2018
Power boiler control, Product of the Year, power generation,and integration and interoperability
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
click me