160211 NCC 2016 Pic

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has confirmed that it is serious about accessing $1.1 billion of productivity gains for the construction sector.

The new National Construction Code (NCC 2016) was released this week and the outdated references to “emergency lighting” have been deleted from Part E4 of the code with the section now being titled “Visibility in an Emergency, Exit Signs, and Warning Systems”.

These changes mean that photoluminescent products can now be used to provide solutions rather than the old electrical approach.

The ABCB’s objective in making these changes is to encourage innovation with a performance based design approach. They have previously noted that “a prescriptive mindset continues to exist in the majority of industry practitioners and regulators”. There are a variety of reasons why this mindset is such a barrier. Old habits, influence of vested interests and the ease of “tick the box” solutions are among those reasons but the wording of the code has not helped the situation.

The ABCB have further made their point by replacing the term “Alternative Solution” with “Performance Solution”. The old term may have suggested that the Deemed-to-Satisfy (DtS) prescription was somehow preferred to the alternatives but there is now clarity that the Performance Requirements are the mandatory components of the code. The amended terminology has brought into focus that a Performance Solution satisfies the code and the DtS prescription is just one of many approaches that can be used.

There has been a long history of industry incumbents using the DtS approach to limit options by pointing to the “Deemed to Satisfy” (DtS) and saying “that’s the code, new technologies don’t fit into the DtS therefore they don’t comply with the code.”

NCC 2016 is a step towards overcoming this mindset and provides an opportunity for designers to deliver greater value to clients by creating performance solutions that are cost effective and sustainable.