The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) participates in a number of international initiatives and assists it in helping deliver on its Intergovernmental Agreement’s objective for an internationally competitive building industry. Below is a list of initiatives the ABCB is currently engaged in with international counterparts.
Inter-jurisdictional Regulator Collaboration Committee
The ABCB is a founding and active member of the Inter-jurisdictional Regulator Collaboration Committee (IRCC). The IRCC’s purpose is to promote effective international collaboration concerning “best current practice” building regulatory systems, in particular those that are objective and performance-based. This interaction with other international bodies that have compatible interests assists the ABCB in achieving an internationally competitive building industry and testing emerging issues with its counterparts.
The CEO of the ABCB has taken on the Chair of the IRCC, which for the time being will hold its meetings virtually.
More information about the IRCC and its members can be read on the IRCC website.
Enhancing building resilience through codes
In October 2019, building codes bodies from Australia, the United States, Canada and New Zealand held a workshop, convened by the U.S.-based International Code Council (ICC), to discuss international code development and research. The purpose of the workshop was to gain a better understanding among these countries about natural hazard challenges posed by climate change and the approaches taken in regard to the regulation of buildings and building safety.
In July 2020, the four organisations publicly released a statement of outcomes Findings on Changing Risk and Building Codes that emerged from the initiative. The document emphasises that building codes need to evolve to address new weather-related risks to minimise human suffering, loss of life and economic loss. The findings, along with the desired outcomes of collaboration by the signatories, are applicable throughout the world. A number of have endorsed the collaborative work, which is now progressing through the development of thought leadership pieces and guidance material. Organisations may learn more and endorse the initiative through an online submission process at www.globalresiliency.org.
Further information on this initiative can be downloaded from the Resource Library.
In the relatively unprecedented and unplanned circumstances of 2020, the Office of the ABCB participated in helping the ICC develop international guidance material for the establishment and operation of temporary health care facilities. This contribution drew from the activities instituted by the various health authorities around Australia and compared favourably to international comparators.
Due to the complex and non-uniform approaches implemented globally, the ICC and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) have established a new taskforce on pandemics to help communities respond to COVID-19 and prepare for the next health threat. This diverse taskforce will research the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the built environment. The group will then develop a roadmap and propose needed resources, including:
- A comprehensive review of current code requirements as they relate to prevention of the transmission of diseases and other serious health concerns. Any suggested revisions to current code requirements based on this assessment will be processed as proposed code changes to the I-Codes.
- A comprehensive review of existing guides, executive orders, white papers, reports and standards, as they relate to design standards, preparedness, health considerations and tools for operating during a pandemic.
- Identification of best practices and guides to address the design and layout of new and existing buildings.
- A comprehensive package of public information materials.
The Office of the ABCB has helped facilitate the inclusion of four Australian subject matter experts from the private sector as part of this international undertaking.
International Building Quality Centre (IBQC)
2020 saw the establishment of the IBQC as an international think tank based at the University of Canberra, with the vision to provide constructive thought leadership and direction on ways by which construction quality and safety outcomes can improve. The IBQC’s multi-national Board comprises Bronwyn Weir, Dominic Sims, Professor Robert Whittaker, Professor Kim Lovegrove, Dame Judith Hackitt, Professor Charles Lemckert, Stephanie Barwise QC, Professor Jose Torero, Michael De Lint, Neil Savery, Alejandro Espinosa-Wang, and Professor Alfred Omenya. Importantly, this means the Board comprises representatives from Peru, Colombia, Canada, UK, NZ, Kenya, USA, and Australia.
In its brief existence that IBQC has produced international good practice regulatory guidelines, a publications library and hosted an international conference exploring regulatory practices. In 2021 the intention is to convert the good practice guidelines into a manual for application in low income nations, develop an international diploma for building inspection (with a focus on low income countries) and consider the development of good practice guidelines for building product safety.
Whilst the ABCB or any of its counterparts are a member of the IBQC, the participation of the ABCB CEO provides a useful conduit to participating in a network of international expert thinking on topics of relevance to the work of the ABCB.
World Plumbing Day
World Plumbing Day is an initiative by the World Plumbing Council. It has been celebrated around the world every year on March 11, since 2010. The day aims to spread awareness of the importance of plumbing and plumbing practitioners in protecting public health and improving amenity globally.
The ABCB recognises this initiative each year and continues to promote and raise awareness of the importance of plumbing and its role in daily life, such as having a shower, getting a glass of water from a tap or flushing the toilet. Without trained plumbers, advancements in plumbing and certification schemes like WaterMark, all these tasks may not be possible or as safe as they are against the spread of disease.
Read the ABCB’s Plumbing and Drainage initiative to learn more about what the ABCB is doing to support the industry and for access to resources such as handbooks, videos, reports and more.
Building Safety Month
For 38 years the ICC has been promoting issues to highlight the need for safe and sustainable structures where everyone lives, works and plays. This is now a globalised endeavour to promote building safety to remind people that buildings and the activities associated with their design, construction, maintenance and on-going uses, are not risk free.
The ABCB supports the initiative in the US and is facilitating discussions with a number of relevant and interested organisations that cover the spectrum of topics that might be considered pertinent to those covered by Building Safety month, to establish what capacity, capability and interest there is to coordinate an effort in Australia to coincide with Building Safety month in the US.