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Building Code changes open for comment

Public consultation on a number of updates for the Building Code is now underway.

Among the changes related to sustainability are:

  • Providing more options to comply with the Building Code for surface water drainage. This involves a new Acceptable Solution for the design and installation of stormwater drainage systems and making it easier to determine rainfall intensities for specific locations.
  • Providing a new Acceptable Solution for waterproofing in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries by referencing the Waterproofing Membrane Association Code of Practice for Internal Wet-area Membrane Systems.
  • Providing additional options to manage overflow risks in kitchens and laundries in adjoined household units.

Other changes involve the clauses C Protection from fire, G9 Electricity and G13 Foul water.

You can find the full details of the changes and guidance on how to comment on them on the Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment website here.

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New houses emit too much carbon


A study looks at how NZ houses contribute to greenhouse gas targets.

A research team that included BRANZ scientists David Dowdell and Roman Jaques has calculated how much carbon dioxide new three-bedroom homes can emit in their lifetimes to help meet climate targets (where the world warms no more than 2°C). New Zealand houses currently produce five times too much carbon dioxide.

The study set climate targets for individual buildings with a whole-of-life cycle approach. It assigned a share of the 2°C global carbon budget out to 2050 to a country, its construction sector, and to each life cycle stage of a building.

The study considered detached houses of 198 m2 gross floor area, a representative residential type. The average climate impact of three new-built houses was compared with the target. The climate impact of the new-built houses exceeded the target by a factor of five.

The study's lead author was Chanjief Chandrakumar of the New Zealand Life Cycle Management Centre at Massey University. Professor Sarah McLaren, also of Massey University, helped lead the study.

You can find more information here.


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Subcontractors to get more protection

The government has flagged announcements around subcontractor protection.

An independent review conducted last year by accountancy firm KPMG found that most of the construction industry was complying with the retention money provisions in the Construction Contracts Act 2002.

However, the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation noted in December that “…the report findings raise some concerns around enforceable penalties, co-mingling retention monies, and a lack of guidance for construction firms.”

“The Minister of Building and Construction expects to make further announcements [in 2020] about work that will be undertaken to ensure subcontractors are protected.”

KPMG identified some gaps in the law that need to be addressed so that retention money can be properly administered when firms go bankrupt.

Where construction firms were not complying with the law, this was often due to a lack of available capital or complying financial instruments or inadequate accounting and financial processes within firms.

The review found that some companies mix retention money with other funds. “While this is allowed under the legislation, this creates a greater risk that funds will not be identifiable and clearly on trust in the event of insolvency.”

Subcontractors already have the legal right to inspect accounting records of firms to check that retention money is being handled properly, but they very rarely exercise this right.

 

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