Why increase the use of Performance?

2017 NCC Information Seminars

The 2017 NCC Information Seminars: ‘Pathways within a Performance-based Code’ sessions commenced with a presentation on ‘Why increase the use of Performance’ as part 1 of the 9 part series dedicated to the use and development of Performance-based Solutions.


 Thank you Brian and good afternoon everyone.

I'm just going to take you through a few slides

and as Brian said, it's to provide you with some context

for this afternoon's presentation and discussion,

which of course, we're hoping that you'll participate in

as you did this morning.

Why performance?

It's been a performance-based code

for close to 20 odd years now since 1996.

So, as a performance-based code,

it has some distinguishing characteristics

from that of just being a prescriptive code,

which of course, many people are familiar with

through the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions.

But by being a performance-based code,

the authors, the people who envisaged that performance-based

regulation was the way to go with building,

were really envisaging that you needed

the opportunity and the option of flexibility

as much as you might prescription.

And in fact, that that was very insightful

when you take into consideration the pace and rate of change

that you're all experiencing and potentially

will experience in the coming few years

as a result of things like disruptive technology,

changes to construction practices etc.

So if we look at this slide here,

and look at the middle word there: innovation.

Really, the fathers of the building code in making it

a performance-based code were contemplating that

there would always be a need to ensure that innovation

could be promoted and encouraged.

And if you have a purely prescriptive type

of regulatory environment,

it's very difficult to be innovative in that experience,

and some of the material that Graham touched on this morning,

if you were here this morning,

in terms of the transformational projects,

are about trying to better prepare the practitioners,

the ABCB, the industry itself with the sort of innovation

that's coming around the corner or is here right now.

Modular building construction, just being one example of that.

So it's very important that we maintain an ability within

the code writing process for industry and for practitioners,

who I assume make up the majority of people in the audience here

have that capability.

And simply to say performance doesn't do justice

to the type of body of work,

the integrity of the work,

and the complexity of the work that's involved in doing performance.

And I think it's really important also to ensure

that people don't walk away today with the view

that the ABCB is trying to ram performance down everyone's throat,

that somehow it's mandatory that you must do performance

That's not the purpose of this discussion.

It's not the purpose of a performance based code.

Deemed-to-Satisfy is an entirely legitimate option for people to use,

and in many cases, particularly, for instance, with domestic housing,

it will remain the primary means by which people

will assess the adequacy of their design and their construction.

But increasingly, buildings are becoming more and more complex,

whereas in the past,

it was about structural liability, fire integrity,

and a few other critical elements to do with

health and safety of buildings,

we've now got a lot of societal type of issues

that also have to be factored in to construction.

Energy efficiency, disability access to name a couple,

and that's only going to increase.

And of course,

it's not just a case of accommodating all of those things.

It's often a case of trying to understand

how do I adjust structural reliability

to accommodate some of these other issues?

So you're doing trade-offs and comparisons in all of that work

and that doesn't come easily with Deemed-to-Satisfy.

And Deemed-to-Satisfy cannot keep up with the pace of change.

You can't just quickly write prescriptive standards

for everything that's happening.

Someone wants something to happen tomorrow,

they want to use a new technology,

a new way of doing something.

We can't suddenly turn right around and write a DtS for it.

You're going to be required and your clients going to ask for,

on occasions, you to find innovative solutions to problems

that are being thrown up by a raft of things.

So what we're trying to do here is help prepare you,

if you're not already, to use a performance-based code,

understand some of the things we're going to do

to help better equip you to deal with that.

And enable, not so much a transition,

but more a balancing act between what has become

customary practice around,

well we'll just always default to the DtS, as opposed to,

well maybe performance is a legitimate solution

in a particular set of circumstances.

So, I mentioned 20 odd years ago,

the performance-based code was introduced.

But over the last 20 years,

we've seen falling productivity in Australia.

And that's reflected in productivity commission reports.

Reports by KPMG, by Mckenzie, by the OECD,

and building doesn't have a stellar reputation

in amongst all of that productivity decline.

In fact, it's one of the worst performing areas in the national economy

in terms of productivity increase.

Likewise, with the work that the ABCB's been doing,

we asked the Center for International Economics

about three years ago to undertake an analysis of regulatory reform

in the building space,

and whether or not it did help to improve productivity.

They identified that as a result of the changes to date,

including a performance-based code,

we'd probably added 1.1 billion dollars of benefits

to the national economy per annum,

but what they went on to say was that there was a potential t

o add another 1.1 billion dollars of productivity benefit

to the economy per annum,

of which seventy percent could potentially be gained

through better use of performance.

So again, that gives the ABCB and national governments,

that is the nine governments,

an incentive to encourage and help people

use performance in the appropriate circumstances.

And we have a new ABCB vision down the bottom there

which was introduced last year - what the vision is -

Increased productivity and improved building outcomes.

So how can you achieve the increased productivity,

maintain the health and safety standards of the code

and still achieve effective building outcomes?

And that was signed off by the board

and the whole reform agenda that is going to be summarized today,

particularly in the space of performance,

was signed off by building ministers in 2014 as well.

This is just the last slide in this context setting

but what it tries to do is encapsulate what we've witnessed

with performance versus DtS over the last 20 odd years.

Most of you would be familiar up until 2016

with the pyramid that was in the code

which had functional statements, objectives etc.

And what became obvious to us through surveys and other analysis

was that many practitioners were seeing the entirety of the pyramid

as everything that they had to do.

That everything within it was a mandatory requirement,

including the DtS.

And that was skewing people's understanding and perception

of the performance-based code,

because in fact, the only mandatory requirements in the code

are the performance requirements.

The DTS are a means of demonstrating compliance

with the performance requirements.

Likewise, a performance solution

is a means of demonstrating compliance with the code

so they're equivalent.

And that's what this diagram,

which is now in the NCC 2016 edition represents.

Your mandatory requirements up the top,

the performance requirements,

two pathways to achieving compliance.

The Deemed-to-Satisfy solution

or a performance solution

or a combination of both.

You'll note that we changed the word from alternative solution

to performance solution because what we were also witnessing

was that people saw the word alternative as describing

a different way of doing something if you couldn't achieve the DtS.

So it was almost causing people to think,

oh, the DtS is what I have to achieve,

and the alternative is only in the circumstance

when I can't achieve the DtS.

So we've changed the language.

It's a performance solution

or a Deemed-to-Satisfy solution

or a combination of the two.

I think the other critical thing

and it will come out both in the presentations

and hopefully that discussion we have at the end,

is that we acknowledge that the more

you move towards performance,

the harder it gets.

It's a more rigorous process,

you require high levels of competency.

You may have to engage other practitioners

if you're a building surveyor for instance,

or an architect to assist you in getting certain things signed off

because you don't necessarily have the competency.

That's not a criticism.

These things are highly complex.

Buildings are highly complex,

particularly when you go beyond Class 1.

So we understand that encouraging people

to increase their use of performance

because the world is changing, and in many cases,

you might not have an alternative.

It's going to require more rigor and more levels of competency

as part of that process.

So that's just by way of introduction and context

for what's going to take place now.

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