Call for building codes to recognise climate risks

The body tasked with reporting to government on building regulation has joined international code developers and researchers in calling for building codes to recognise the risks of climate change.

Neil Savery

The Australian Building Codes Board has teamed up with international counterparts to launch the Findings on Changing Risk and Building Codes statement.

An initiative of the International Code Council, the statement says extreme weather events are increasing across the globe and the built environment must respond.

“Building code developers and representatives from across the building industry must work with climate scientists and regulators to establish reliable, authoritative and appropriate models and methodologies that allow development of forward-looking strategies to address changing risks,” the statement says.

“While building codes are a fundamental component of a resilient built environment, resilience relies on deployment of a comprehensive strategy that engages the public and private sectors.”

The ICC says Australia’s devastating bushfire season highlighted the need for building codes to draw on both building science and climate science to protect communities.

Commitment to collaboration

Australian Building Codes Board chief executive Neil Savery said in supporting the outcomes statement, ABCB leadership has committed to ongoing collaboration with its colleagues from the US, NZ and Canada.

“The opportunity to share information, experience and development of building code content and standards for natural hazards that are common to each country, can help create more resilient buildings, as well as contribute to mitigating the environmental impacts of buildings,” he said in a statement.

“As the outcomes statement identifies, building codes already establish a significant level of occupant and public safety, and need to remain contemporary, but it is important to note that they cannot guarantee this given the nature of extreme weather events.”

The statement is also supported by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, the Fire and Emergency Service Authority Council, Geoscience Australia, Standards Australia, the Planning Institute of Australia and the Insurance Council.

International signatories include the National Research Council of Canada and the NZ Ministry or Business, Innovation and Employment.

The ABCB , chaired by former NSW premier John Fahey, consists of eighteen members including government building heads, a local government representative and industry stakeholders.

It reports directly to the ministers responsible for building regulatory matters through the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF), providing a link for the building industry between building practice and government regulatory policies.


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3 thoughts on “Call for building codes to recognise climate risks

  1. I have long thought that if ever I had the chance to build my own place I would make sure it was built to cyclone standards, triple glazed and with ample water storage and even potential off-grid capacity. Things I would change include the diameter — or carrying capacity — of down pipes so that in torrential downpours the gutters and drainage could cope with the water without risking local flooding around the house and water getting into the oases. So go for it I say. But I would like the insurance industry to differentiate between buildings built under the different standards

  2. Emissions in existing fabric (embodied energy), demolition and construction including materials, along with ongoing energy demands, should be calculated for every building project, and assessed for the overall contribution to the State’s emissions reduction targets.

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