Major Initiatives of the ABCB
Life safety remains the core priority of the ABCB. The need for further possible improvements to the regulatory regime, particularly in relation to resilience, has come to the fore in light of recent natural hazards. Current major initiatives to better address life safety risks include work on the construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas, a review of construction in cyclone affected areas, and what role, if any, building standards may play in flood-prone areas.
The publication of NCC 2011 heralded the successful implementation of the first step in the Council of Australian Governments initiative to incorporate all on-site regulatory building requirements into one national code, with the addition of plumbing requirements. Further work to consolidate and harmonise building and plumbing regulations will be undertaken; as will scoping work for the possible inclusion of gas fitting requirements.
The Building Code of Australia was revised in 2011 to align with the Access Code in the Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards and preparation for the scheduled first review is underway. This includes identification of data needs and methods of collection, to enable the review to be completed in five years from introduction.
Climate change mitigation is also a major initiative. If directed by Government, the ABCB will commence work to address possible incremental stringency changes under the National Strategy for Energy Efficiency. Ongoing maintenance of the current energy efficiency provisions will continue.
With the significant regulatory reform agenda, awareness and training is critical. The ABCB has recently released its fifth and sixth Awareness Resource Kits, to assist practitioners with the implementation of the plumbing and new disability access for publicly accessible buildings.
The ABCB also places a strong emphasis on the core functions of maintaining and updating the NCC and in exercising a gatekeeper role in response to calls for additional regulation.