The ABCB, NCC 2019 and What You Need to Know

Coloured office buildings side by side

Access Insights Magazine – Feb/March 2018

The following is an extract of an article published in the above magazine earlier in the week. The full article can be read here:

This is the second of two posts each providing an extract of the article. A third post will follow discussing the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) readability initiative.

Creating a Performance-Based Mindset

There is great potential to extend the use of performance-based design into other areas such as energy efficiency, accessibility and structural engineering. To do this, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has embarked on an industry-wide communication strategy to highlight the compliance options available to industry. This has included dedicating a significant amount of time from the recent National Construction Code (NCC) seminars to the concept of Performance Solutions.  Earlier in March 2018 the ABCB also announced the establishment of a volunteer Subject Matter Expert Network.

Subject Matter Expert Network

The Subject Matter Expert (SME) Network has recently been established to support the architecture and building design sectors in shifting towards a performance-based mindset. The SME Network is a pilot program comprising 10 volunteers, each being an industry leader in either energy efficiency, building codes, fire engineering or accessibility.

ACAA will have three representatives on the SME Network, each being an accredited member of ACAA. These members will be working together to ensure a consistent approach when engaging with the ABCB and providing information and responses to members of the public.

The SME Network will operate as an internal referral process within the ABCB and will provide advice and support on the best practice application of Performance Solutions. The Network will also help to develop guidance material, develop new Performance Solution case studies, respond to public enquiries and highlight opportunities for applying performance-based design by Architects and Building Designers.

Capacity Building

The ABCB aims to progressively release new awareness, educational and other supporting materials to help support an enabling environment.

Earlier this year the following initiatives related to access and egress for people with disability have been released as part of this program, and in preparation for the release of NCC 2019:

  • Public Comment Draft of NCC 2019, Volume One (comments close 13 April 2018);
  • Proposed NCC 2019 Verification Methods:
    • Fire Safety Verification Method;
    • Ramps Verification Method (DV3);
    • Access to and within a building overview of proposed Verification Method (DV2)
  • Performance Solution Case Study: Disability Access – Disability Access: Riley Street Apartments
  • Consultation Regulation Impact Statements:
    • Accessible adult change facilities in public buildings (comments close 13 April 2018), including a Cost Implications Report;
    • Fire Safety in Class 2 and Class 3 residential buildings (comments close 13 April 2018);
  • Discussion Paper: The NCC and short-term accommodation in apartment buildings (comments close 8 April 2018);
  • NCC Improved Readability Overview

(Note, references to applicable fire engineering documents have been made, as people with disabilities are often not provided for adequately in fire-engineered solutions).

Additionally, we understand that the ABCB has been talking to universities offering engineering, building surveying and architectural courses about the need to introduce students to the idea of a performance-based regulatory environment. By doing so, the ABCB aims to tap into the next generation of practitioners to ready the industry with an increased awareness and understanding.

Key Proposed Changes to NCC 2019

The following is a summary of the most significant proposed changes to the access provisions of the NCC:

  • A revised Section to be consistent with other NCC documents, which introduces the term ‘Governing Requirements’. The Governing Requirements include rules and instructions for:
    • Interpreting the NCC
    • Complying with the NCC
    • State or Territory compliance and application in conjunction with the NCC
    • Applying documents referenced in the NCC
    • Documenting evidence and suitability of materials for the purposes of the NCC
    • Classifying buildings by their intended use
  • Alignment with other NCC documents and introduction of new accessibility Verification Methods (discussed below).
  • Giving titles to all Performance Requirements, which now sees a reference to ‘Evacuation Lifts’ in DP7.
  • Aged care buildings are now referred to as residential care buildings throughout the NCC.
  • Verification Methods DV2 (Access to and within a building) and DV3 (Design for wheelchair) are included at the start of Section D.
  • Table D2.13 (stair tread ‘risers’ and ‘goings’) is simplified.
  • Dry and wet condition headings have been rationalised in Table D2.14.
  • Clause D2.21(a)(iii) has been added, which requires:
  • Required exit doors need:
    • Power operated door controls no closer than 500mm from an internal corner and not more than 2m from any part of the door; and
    • Braille and tactile signage to identify the latch operating device.
  • Table D3.1 remains unchanged, other than moving the location of the text under Class 3 and Class 9c buildings, which outline the need for not more than 2 required accessible sole-occupancy units (SOUs) to be located adjacent to each other and to be representative of the range of rooms available. This is now at the end of the text, which might infer this is now only applicable when there are more than 500 SOUs.
  • Clause D3.5(d) has removed the reference to being ‘designated’ and now says “need not be identified with signage where there is a total of not more than 5 car parking spaces, so as to restrict the use of the car parking space only for people with a disability.”
  • Clause D3.6(a) now clarifies where braille and tactile signage is not required in Class 1b and Class 3 buildings.
  • Clause D3.6(c) now includes signage requirements for the adult changing sanitary facilities required in Clause F2.4(j).
  • Clause D3.6(g) has been added to include the directional signage requirements for the adult changing sanitary facilities required in Clause F2.4(j).
  • Clause D3.8(c) clarifies where tactile domed buttons are required.
  • Clause D3.9(b) removes the requirement for the range of wheelchair seating spaces to be representative of the range of seats offered.
  • Clause D3.10(b) removes the maximum gradient of 1:14 for zero depth entry ramps into pools.
  • Specification D3.6 corrects the reference from sentence case to title case.
  • A complete revamp of Clause E3.6 and moving the requirements of Table E3.6a and Table E3.6b into the body of the Clause.
  • Verification Method FV2.1 (Sanitary facilities) is included at the start of Part F2, which provides a method of developing Performance Solutions to vary the number of toilets for building occupants based on ‘waiting times’. However, no information on Verification Method FV2.1 has been released by the ABCB as yet.
  • Clause F2.4(j) has been added, which states that in addition to those accessible facilities required by F2.4(a), one unisex accessible sanitary compartment complying with Specification F2.4 must be provided in an accessible part of any:
    • Class 6 shopping centre that has a design occupancy greater than 1400 people, determined in accordance with Table D1.13 for each part of the building that is used as a shop; and
    • Class 9b public building, other than one that is required to comply with H2.8, and in which at least one accessible unisex sanitary compartment is required by (a).
  • Specification F2.3 has been added and replaces Table F2.1 and F2.3.
  • Specification F2.4 has been added to outline the requirements for adult change facilities. The Scope states “This Specification contains the requirements for unisex accessible sanitary compartments that are required to include additional features to assist people who may be unable to use standard unisex accessible sanitary facilities independently.” The design requirements are generally consistent with the Changing Places Technical Standard Option 1b, with additional circulation spaces, ceiling mounted hoist system, adult-sized change table, drop-down grabrails on each side of the toilet pan, a standard AS 1428.1 basin, other fixtures and fittings, door and door controls and signage (including the new Hoist and Table Symbol).
  • Clause H2.8(b) has been added to include the requirement for Specification F2.4 adult change facilities in public transport buildings.

ACAA encourages all readers to visit the ABCB website to download, review and provide comment prior to 13th April 2018.

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