The role of Standards in building and construction

Mar 24, 2015 Policy & Trends

Standards Australia is the independent and not-for-profit developer of internationally-aligned Australian Standards.

In this column, Jennifer Harwood, Senior National Sector Manager for Building and Construction, talks about the role that standards play in building and construction.

What are Standards and why do they matter?

In Australia, Standards are published documents based on consensus, which can take the form of specifications, procedural requirements, or handbooks. They are living documents which are updated to suit the changing needs of the economy and community.

Government regulators and public health authorities often turn to standards in their regulation to provide a baseline level of safety requirements for houses, buildings, machinery and everyday objects. Standards are everywhere in your daily life, from the buildings you live in to street lighting to the way seatbelts operate in your car.

In the world of building and construction, standards help to codify best practices, methods and technical requirements to create a safe and sustainable built environment for the community.

Standards and the National Construction Code

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) develops one national building code that has been adopted by each state and territory.

The National Construction Code is a good example of performance-based regulation. Simply put, the NCC provides performance requirements for many aspects of building and construction which are based on outcomes. For example, the ABCB may call for all buildings and fittings to be constructed in a way that is efficient, effective, and habitable, with specific requirements on materials, design, accessibility, and above all, safety. These requirements are laid out in the NCC, which may then refer to Australian Standards as one way for builders to meet these requirements.

Standards Australia works closely with the ABCB and stakeholders from the government, industry and community to develop Standards related to building and construction, which are referenced in the NCC.

We are a developer of Standards, we do not enforce, regulate or certify compliance with these Standards. What we do is to form technical committees on building and construction by bringing together relevant parties and stakeholders into the same room. Through a process of consensus, these committees develop standards and technical documents for Australia’s net benefit.

Australian Standards for Termite Management

This year, our technical committees are going full steam ahead with their schedule of work and we are optimistic for a number of Standards projects on building and construction to be completed in 2015.

One example of recent work by our technical committees has helped homeowners and building managers get rid of unwanted visitors in the basement.

Standards Australia published in November 2014 two revised Australian Standards for termite management, AS 3660.1:2014 Termite Management, Part 1: New Building Work and AS 3660.3:2014, Termite Management, Part 3: Assessment criteria for termite management systems.

The two documents have been developed for use in the National Construction Code and as a tool to assist builders, designers, regulators, manufacturers, installers, and assessors to manage termite risk in constructions.

AS 3660.1:2014 Termite Management, Part 1: New Building Work provides a range of options for termite management that can be implemented during the construction of buildings.

AS 3660.3:2014 Termite Management, Part 3: Assessment criteria for termite management systems provides new requirements and pass/fail criteria that will enable manufacturers and system proposers to assess their products and methods. It provides a clear path for compliance with AS 3660.1:2014.

These standards were developed by Standards Australia Technical Committee BD-074. The committee is now working on updating the Australian Standard on the post-construction management of termites

International Work

On the global level, it is equally important for countries to work together to share best practices and technology. International standards development bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have brought together people from all over the world to develop important standards for building and construction. Closer to home, the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) convene yearly to discuss standardisation issues specific to the Asia-Pacific region.

In line with Standards Australia’s goal is to develop internationally-aligned standards as far as possible, we are proud to represent Australia at international meetings at ISO, IEC and PASC.

2015 will also see Standards Australia strengthening its partnerships with other countries. An exciting project underway is in New Caledonia in collaboration with AFNOR, the French national standards body. New Caledonia is one of Australia’s top 20 export markets by number of Australian companies doing business in the market.

As a start, we will share best practices, experiences and information in the realm of building and construction standards, with a focus on harmonisation. This project will be of mutual benefit and could potentially boost two-way trade and investment between Australia and New Caledonia.

Stay in touch with Standards Australia

Standards Australia has been going on the road with the ABCB to talk about the 2015 edition of the National Construction Code. We also had a series of seminars in all major Australian capital cities to keep the public updated on Standards Australia’s operations. We hope you were able to join us for one of these road shows and if not, do keep a look out on our website or LinkedIn when we announce the next one.

Keep up to date with Standards developments in the building and construction sector and join the Standards Australia Building and Construction LinkedIn group. We are now over 900 strong and our membership is growing steadily.

The page provides a platform for Standards Australia to communicate with our members, keeping you informed of the work being undertaken, Standards publications and other relevant matters. Documents available for Public Comment will be listed on the group page, along with updates on conferences, forums and events.

To join the Standards Australia LinkedIn Page, look for Standards Australia – Building and Construction via the LinkedIn search function. Visit the Standards Australia website (www.standards.org.au) or contact Standards Australia to find out more.

About Standards Australia

Founded in 1922, Standards Australia is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, recognised by the Commonwealth Government as the peak non-government Standards development body in Australia. It is charged by the Commonwealth Government to meet Australia’s need for contemporary, internationally-aligned Standards and related services. The work of Standards Australia enhances the nation’s economic efficiency, international competitiveness and contributes to community demand for a safe and sustainable environment.

Story supplied by Standards Australia

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