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Construction in bushfire prone areas

Bushfires are common in Australia due to our hot and dry climate, making the bushfire standard a key document to help protect the Australian community. The standard is primarily concerned with improving the ability of buildings in designated bushfire-prone areas to better withstand attack from bushfire. As a result, it helps provides a measure of protection to the building occupants (until the fire front passes) as well as to the building itself.

AS 3959, Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas, was originally developed in 1991 and has since seen two updated versions. It is currently under revision with the draft of its fourth edition scheduled for this year.

Victoria’s Bushfire Royal Commission previously made a number of recommendations to the existing standard AS 3959-2009. The majority of these recommendations have been addressed by the three amendments already published (Amendment 1-2009, Amendment 2-2011 and Amendment 3-2011).

Following these recommendations, Standards Australia held a Bushfire Forum with a number of stakeholders to discuss how the standard could be improved.

The forum identified a number of improvements to the standard that needed consideration on the performance of buildings and building materials exposed to bushfires.

The intent of the revision is to address the limitations that have been identified with the current 2009 version. The revision will not affect the scope of the standard or the levels of protection.

Chair of FP-020, Mr Richard Brooks, provided further detail on the need for this revision.

“Bushfires are a serious threat to many Australian communities. Our goal is to ensure that homes are built in accordance with building codes and practices to protect residents in vulnerable areas.

“Expert input from the fire and building authorities, comprehensive research and public consultation with stakeholders across the sector have all been key to this revision,” said Mr Brooks.

If you would like to view the current draft of AS 3959 it will be available through the Public Comment Portal on the Standards Australia website (www.standards.org.au). Simply go to the Quick Links section and click on “Drafts for Public Comment”. Here you will be able to comment on the standard once it is available for public comment. All comments received are reviewing by the technical committee.

The standard for the Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas is currently being revised by key experts from fire and building authorities.

BIM – Advancements in the digital built environment

BIM Knowledge and Skills Framework

Standards Australia hosted the launch of the BIM Knowledge and Skills Framework on behalf of the Australasian Procurement and Construction Council and Australian Construction Industry Forum earlier this year. This strategic forum brought together key stakeholders from the Australasian building and construction industry. As a member of the Australasian BIM Advisory Board Initiation Committee, Standards Australia is proud to support productivity of the digital built environment and provide standards engagement and development support.

Publication of AS ISO 16739:2017, Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) for data sharing in the construction and facility management industries

Standards Australia published AS ISO 16739:2017, Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) for data sharing in the construction and facility management industries. This is an identical adoption of the international standard ISO 16739. AS ISO 16739 establishes a data schema and an exchange file format for BIM data. It is intended for use in architecture, engineering, construction and operation industries.

The schema describes entities commonly found in AECO industries – building elements, construction systems, spaces, locations, projects, actors, processes, etc. – and the relationships between them.

Neil Greenstreet, Chair of BD-104, Building Information Modelling, explained the significance of AS ISO 16739 for industry.

“The most commonly used BIM authoring applications in Australia are all able to import and export files in an IFC format. Adopting ISO 16739 as an Australian Standard formally recognises its value, increases awareness of it within the local industry and makes it more accessible.

“Open BIM standards such as IFC mean stakeholders do not have to be locked into one proprietary range of software products – they can choose the tools best suited to their specific needs and exchange their work with others with different needs or preferences. A diversity of products also stimulates competition and development,” said Mr Greenstreet.

AS 1170.4, Structural design actions – Earthquake actions in Australia, helps protect buildings from the devastating effects of earthquakes.

Standards under review

Some standards that are currently going through a revision in your sector include:

  • AS 1170.4, Structural design actions – Earthquake actions in Australia
  • This standard is currently in the Drafting phase of the project and it is expected to be released for public comment in 2017.
  • The objective of this standard is to provide designers of structures with earthquake actions and general detailing requirements for use in the design of structures subject to earthquakes.
  • The project is intended to review the Hazard Map and probability factors in the current standard.
  • AS 1720.4-2006, Timber structures – Fire resistance for structural adequacy of timber members
  • This standard is currently in the drafting phase of the project and it is expected to be released for public comment in 2017.
  • The objective of this standard is to provide a computational method for determining the fire resistance for structural adequacy of solid, plywood, laminated veneer lumber (LVL), and glued-laminated structural timber members as an alternative to the test method specified in AS 1530.4.
  • This project is intended to consider the inclusion of a method to calculate fire resistance timber barriers used as walls, floors or roofs, as well as included a method to develop char blocks for junctions in fire rated walls and floors.

Round 15 Project Prioritisation

Standards Australia welcomes proposals to amend, revise or develop new Australian Standards. The second round of submissions for this year is open from Wednesday 9 August to Wednesday 6 September 2017.

For more information, go to www.standards.org.au

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Ron Pulido is a National Sector Manager at Standards Australia and is responsible for stakeholder engagement and standards development in the Building and Construction sector.

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