In October 1996, the ABCB released its first performance-based code, the BCA, paving the way for Australia’s building and construction industry to adopt performance-based design.

Turning 21 is a big milestone! For the ABCB, the 21st anniversary of the performance-based code is a milestone worth celebrating. The significance of this milestone centres on the opportunities the performance-based code created since it was first introduced.

Up until 1996, the BCA1 (first published in 1990) was a prescriptive code requiring building designers to demonstrate that their design complied with the Deemed-to-Satisfy, or prescriptive elements of the BCA. Although this approach ensured building designers were delivering designs that were compliant with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, it was not conducive with enabling an environment and culture of innovation, creativity and collaboration.

The creation of the BCA

Having considered the findings of a number of high level reviews that recommended the BCA be a performance-based code, and after assessing numerous overseas models, the ABCB took to designing a code that offered greater flexibility in building design and one that best suited the Australian building regulatory environment.

The intent was to design a code that would lay the foundation for industry to explore new innovations, new technologies and new materials, and enable more functional, economical, adaptable and aesthetically pleasing buildings, while still delivering on the safety, health and amenity requirements of the code.

In October 1996, the ABCB launched the performance-based BCA (BCA96), which introduced overarching Performance Requirements, whilst retaining the existing Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions that were “deemed” to comply with these new Performance Requirements.

The introduction of BCA96 was a major development for industry, changing the way building designers approached design. It represented an opportunity to engender a performance mindset across Australia’s building and construction industry, and provided pathways to achieve productivity benefits under a performance-based approach.

ABCB initiatives that support the NCC

21 years on, and as one of the Board’s priorities, the ABCB is continuing to progress a number of initiatives to support the performance-based code, whilst at the same time contributing to increased levels of compliance and productivity. This includes quantification of the performance requirements, capacity building and engendering a performance mindset.

The NCC continues to create an environment that supports and allows industry to innovate through performance-based design, and delivering buildings that establish new benchmarks in construction.

So to celebrate this important milestone in Australia’s building and construction industry’s history, we say happy 21st to the performance-based code! Here’s to many more years of innovative design, use of technology, and to engendering a performance mindset across Australia’s building and construction industry.


[1] The BCA now forms part of the NCC along with the PCA.