Changes to the National Construction Code

Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) issued a media release (available here) announcing that changes to the National Construction Code mean it will now be much easier for developers to use timber to construct mid-rise buildings up to eight storeys high. AFPA issued a media release welcoming the changes to the NCC, with AFPA CEO Ross Hampton saying, “FWPA is to be congratulated for championing these changes to the National Construction Code. The sustainability and renewability of this product can now be further utilised and create a real difference in making our cities and urban environments truly green.” The Fifth Estate has reported that the changes, which are expected to take effect from 1 May 2016, follow a two-year consultation and research process headed by Forest and Wood Products Australia, and involve both engineered timbers like CLT and traditional “stick” timber. Before the changes, developers who wanted to build higher than three storeys in timber needed to use a complex, time-consuming and costly “alternative solutions” model to gain approval. Using timber for mid-rise developments could cut construction costs by 25%, compared with concrete. The Managing Director of FWPA, Ric Sinclair, said, “We expect the savings available today to increase over time as timber becomes more widely-known as a quality building material in suburban mid-rise apartments, not just houses. It’s also great news for the timber industry, and a real opportunity for the domestic building industry.” Planet Ark chief executive Paul Klymenko said, “Choosing apartments in timber mid-rise buildings has the potential to reduce the environmental footprint of the built environment without any increase in costs. It’s the perfect outcome. Creating and transporting timber building materials not only creates fewer carbon emissions than alternatives, but wood stores or sequesters carbon for the life of the building.”