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Building Code submitters push for sustainability

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Minister for Building Issues

16 November 2006 Media Statement

Building Code submitters push for sustainability

Public submissions during the current Building Code review have revealed a strong push from New Zealanders for quality, energy efficient buildings that last for generations, said the Building Issues Minister Clayton Cosgrove today.

His comment follows analysis of the 265 submissions received on the Government's discussion document 'Building for the 21st Century – Review of the Building Code'. Submissions closed on 31 August 2006.

Mr Cosgrove said the feedback shows the public shares the Government's concerns over factors such as climate change and the need for sustainable development.

"Given that the submissions were made before my announcement last month about proposals to make homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient, it is heartening to know the Government is providing the right leadership and guidance that New Zealanders want in this area," he said.

Mr Cosgrove said many submitters want the new Code to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed strongly enough to cope with the rigours of climate and weather change patterns. However submissions also included the view that warning systems rather than engineering solutions were better suited for extreme hazards such as tsunami, volcanoes and wildfires.

Mr Cosgrove said some submitters want to see accessibility issues given more prominence, such as guidelines to encourage use of lever handles on taps and ease of mobility in and around buildings for an aging population.

He said submitters also indicated support for fire safety improvements in homes. There was also a view among submitters that the Building Code should fit better with other laws, particularly as the Resource Management Act.

Mr Cosgrove said the support for change was also tempered with caution, with submitters recognising the need to balance costs and benefits with affordability and with what would give the best long-term benefits.

Mr Cosgrove said the feedback was invaluable for ensuring the review was on the right track.

“The Building Code review will change what we build and the way we build, because we expect a lot more from our buildings than we did even 15 years ago," he said. "There have been significant advances in construction technologies and in our knowledge of building products and performance. A modern Code must reflect that and the quality of these submissions will definitely contribute to that end.”

Mr Cosgrove said the Government would publish a synopsis of the current round of submissions well before Christmas on the Department of Building and Housing website www.dbh.govt.nz

Submissions were received from individuals, community and commercial organisations, builders, designers, architects, engineers and territorial authorities.

Mr Cosgrove said the new Code would be crucial in determining how we live in future, and he encouraged even more New Zealanders to participate in the next public consultation round.

A second discussion document with detailed performance criteria will be published early next year, with the entire review scheduled for completion by November 2007. The new Code is projected to take effect in 2008.

The Building Code was last reviewed in 1991. The current review is part of a suite of reforms being implemented under the Building Act 2004 requirements to lift performance standards and ensure buildings are built right the first time. The other reforms include the planned licensing of building practitioners while protecting the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tradition, product certification, and the auditing and accrediting of Building Consent Authorities.

The review also complements other Government initiatives such as the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, the enhancing of the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service to achieve faster, better outcomes for home owners, and the investigation of a home warranty insurance scheme.”


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