There are still some tickets available for this Thursday evening’s important briefing from NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler. Hear about what’s next for the NSW Building Reforms, and what has been uncovered in the audits of Design Practitioners so far. This is one not to miss!

When: Thursday, 9 June 5.00pm – 7.30pm
Where: Teachers Federation, Surry Hills
Register here.


NSW Treasury Infrastructure Advisory Standard Commercial Framework

The NSW Treasury has been undertaking consultation with a number of architectural practices with the intent of standardising procurement, streamlining processes and lowering the costs to government for all NSW government contracts. This includes the introduction of capped daily rates for practitioners.

Feedback from practices to date has been that there is concern the capped rates may restrict the number of practices that will be able to tender for work, may not reflect current market rates, and may limit feasibility of government work, particularly for practices which rely on this work.

If you have feedback or concerns relating to your involvement in this project, please feel free to contact us for assistance at lisa.king@architecture.com.au.


Heritage Act Review

We are in the process of working with the NSW government on the upcoming review to the Heritage Act. Our submission will be finalised this week, with the new legislation to be released by the end of June 2022.


Embodied Carbon Project

We recently met with team members from the NSW Office of the Building Commissioner to hear about the future-forward work being undertaken on embodied carbon. This work is in response to the consumer-driven demand for greener buildings and we will continue to advocate for the construction industry to play its part in meeting this demand. Read the report on consumer confidence here.

“KPMG Origins team is collaborating with the NSW Office of Building Commissioner to facilitate an embodied carbon calculator for the built environment. This work is an extension of an existing collaboration to develop a trustworthiness indicator to report on the level of compliance with the relevant building codes that apply to the construction process. This is known as a Building Trustworthy Indicator (BTI).

The BTI is part of ongoing work to strengthen public confidence in the built environment. The BTI is a market-led product that enables differentiation of trustworthy buildings. It will leverage data collected across the building lifecycle. The BTI will not only provide asset owners with a material indicator, it will also enable financiers and insurers to price residual risk using more precise data. The platform that is supporting the BTI initiative also has potential to enable the calculation of the embodied carbon footprint for the same buildings – represented as an Embodied Carbon Indicator (ECI).

Given ~11% of carbon emissions come from embodied carbon only <1% of buildings have an accurate picture of their embodied carbon footprint. ECI helps differentiate the ‘As Designed’ vs ‘As Built’ carbon footprint of buildings by leveraging early design calculations and data about materials actually installed to support all those involved in the design and construction of a building. There is a significant opportunity to drive meaningful changes in calculating, reporting and in the future offsetting the emissions of new buildings and delivering on the decarbonisation agenda of NSW and Australia.”


Update from the Building Reform Policy Team

There has been a lack of clarity in the industry regarding geotechnical reports and how they are captured under the Design and Building Practitioners legislation.

Please see this clarifying statement below from Dominic Wong, Manager, Strategy and Industry Education:

“…regardless of the fact that there is a design practitioner category for geotechnical engineering, only work which fits the definition of a “regulated design” – that is, a plan, a specification, or a report detailing a design relating to a ‘building element’ for ‘building work’ (as defined by the Design and Building Practitioners Act) – needs to be declared and lodged on the NSW Planning Portal.

Advice relied upon by a design practitioner but which is not itself a “regulated design” does not need to be declared as a regulated design; but should be acknowledged as “specialist advice” on the design declaration form.

A design from a registered design practitioner-geotechnical engineering generally becomes a regulated design if it is a design in an “area of geotechnical engineering” for a building element (i.e. a load-bearing component of a building that is essential to the stability of the building).

The dictionary to the DBP Regulation states:

area of geotechnical engineering means an area of engineering that involves the mechanics of soil and rock and the application of the mechanics to the design and construction of foundations, retaining structures, shoring excavations and ground bearing structures for buildings and other systems constructed of, or supported by, soil or rock, but does not include activities involving only geology or earth science.”

In many cases the geotechnical engineer doesn’t design the load-bearing component of a building that is essential to the stability of the building and instead provides a report on the geology including the loadbearing capacity of the foundation material and the hydrology of the site.

If the geotechnical engineering report is limited to the geology or earth science and doesn’t include a design (eg. for the construction of footings, retaining structures, shoring excavations and ground bearing structures for buildings) the report isn’t a regulated design.

However, a structural engineer, when designing the construction of footings, retaining structures, shoring excavations and ground bearing structures for buildings, may rely on geotechnical engineering reports to ensure the foundation material (i.e. so the ground beneath the footings can withstand the loads of the footings, retaining structures etc). In this case the design of the footings or any of the named structures above, is a regulated design declared by the registered design practitioner-structural engineering. The geotechnical report relied on for these designs should be declared as specialist advice by the structural engineer.

A geotechnical engineering report would, for example, become a regulated design when the geotechnical engineer includes in their report information describing how to construct the footing or retaining walls or shoring that sits on top of the foundation material.”

If you need assistance or advice on any aspect of the NSW building reforms, view our dedicated webpage or contact lisa.king@architecture.com.au.


Lisa King
Policy & Advocacy Manager NSW