Benefits of Performance-Based Building Codes

Investigations into the benefits of performance-based methods in commercial construction projects (prior to 2012) found that there are savings arising from finding cheaper ways of doing things (i.e. lower costs — reduced inputs/output). Additionally there are considerable, but less certain and less detectable gains likely from innovative solutions that lead to more floor space per unit of input (i.e. increased output/input), as well as better quality, and more attractive spaces per unit of output (increased quality/output).[1]

The 2012 report released by CIE commented that only stakeholders believe that only 50% of the potential benefits of the national construction code and performance-based provisions had been realised.

Prior to the introduction of BCA96 Australian building regulations were very prescriptive which relied on ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ provisions in early versions of the BCA. Later versions of the BCA introduced minimum levels of compliance in each area, termed the ‘Performance Requirements.

Performance requirements specify mandatory levels of building performance and provide optional means of compliance for the designer or builder to decide how this is achieved. The approach allows more flexibility and innovation in building design and construction.[2]

The CIE reported that various studies have identified the expected benefits and some of the potential costs associated with performance-based standards. Identified benefits include:[3]

  • cost savings relating to the efficiency of design and construction;
  • more functional and aesthetic looking buildings;
  • flexibility to use new building products and materials, which also encourages innovation by product manufacturers; and
  • more regular updating of the ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ provisions or alternatively less updating as the prescriptive approach becomes only one method of compliance (i.e. by using performance-based solutions).

The CSIRO reported that benefits attributed to performance-based standards have been estimated at $646 million, whilst the Building Regulation Review Taskforce suggested that a performance-based national building code would deliver benefits of around $200 million per year.[4]

One of the most significant identified benefits is that performance-based solutions facilitate the rapid take-up of new (international) technology by removing the constraints that the prescriptive ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ solutions would impose.[5] This is particularly relevant when considering the benefits of a design solution including the use of the Accessible Exit Sign Project designs.

[1] The Centre for International Economics (CIE), Benefits of Building Regulatory Reform, p.6, http://www.abcb.gov.au/~/media/Files/Download%20Documents/About%20the%20NCC/The%20CIE%20-%20Benefits%20of%20building%20regulation%20reform%20-%20Final%20Report.ashx, viewed 20 September 2015

[2] The Centre for International Economics (CIE), Benefits of Building Regulatory Reform, p.7, http://www.abcb.gov.au/~/media/Files/Download%20Documents/About%20the%20NCC/The%20CIE%20-%20Benefits%20of%20building%20regulation%20reform%20-%20Final%20Report.ashx, viewed 20 September 2015

[3] The Centre for International Economics (CIE), Benefits of Building Regulatory Reform, p.14, http://www.abcb.gov.au/~/media/Files/Download%20Documents/About%20the%20NCC/The%20CIE%20-%20Benefits%20of%20building%20regulation%20reform%20-%20Final%20Report.ashx, viewed 20 September 2015

[4] The Centre for International Economics (CIE), Benefits of Building Regulatory Reform, pp.29,37 http://www.abcb.gov.au/~/media/Files/Download%20Documents/About%20the%20NCC/The%20CIE%20-%20Benefits%20of%20building%20regulation%20reform%20-%20Final%20Report.ashx, viewed 20 September 2015

[5] The Centre for International Economics (CIE), Benefits of Building Regulatory Reform, p.50, http://www.abcb.gov.au/~/media/Files/Download%20Documents/About%20the%20NCC/The%20CIE%20-%20Benefits%20of%20building%20regulation%20reform%20-%20Final%20Report.ashx, viewed 20 September 2015

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Buildings need exit and emergency signs to identify parts of the accessible means of egress. An Accessible Exit Sign Project Initiative.

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