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Victorian Chapter Advocacy Update

IMPORTANT RESEARCH ON FIRE-TESTING OF RENDERED EXPANDABLE POLYSTYRENE FOAM

As per the recent social media posting on the Institute’s National and Victorian Chapter Twitter accounts, important findings on research undertaken by Warringtonfire Australia as witnessed and reported by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have been published. This was commissioned by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) and released to their website on Friday 11 December. The Victorian Chapter received embargoed communication from the VBA CEO during the week advising us of the imminent release.

Full-scale façade test results confirm that rendered Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS) (with fire retardant) in Exterior Finish Insulation Systems (EIFS) on Class  2 to Class 9 buildings of Type A or Type B construction will result in rapid vertical fire spread when exposed to a large fire source, and that the propensity for rapid vertical fire spread and pool fires is similar to that of an Aluminium Composite Panel – Polyethylene (ACP-PE) wall system (which contains ~ 100% PE core).

The update issued by the VBA can be downloaded from its Practice Notes and Resources. The download link can be .found under the heading, “Rendered expanded polystyrene (EPS) wall systems”. The reports by CSIRO and Warringtonfire Australia can be downloaded here and require contact details to be entered before the documents can be downloaded.

REMINDER ON COVID-19 GUIDANCE

A quick reminder that the Victoria Chapter’s COVID-19 Support page has been regularly updated throughout the COVID-19 second wave restrictions. It contains several links to assist navigation to highly relevant authoritative information for architects and practices. For example, the “Professional, Scientific and Technical Services Sector Guidance” (Architect sits in this ANZI occupational category) link takes the reader to a recently re-updated “Office workplaces guidance” On this page is a hyperlink called “Industry Restart Guidelines: Offices | COVIDSafe Summer”. 

You can find an illustrated pdf guide, “Industry Restart Guidelines Offices Professional, Technical & Scientific Services, Financial Services, Administrative & Support Services (December 2020)” here.  This guide can then be used to plan your practice’s re-opening.

Another link on the Chapter’s COVID-19 Support page takes the reader to a page with downloadable COVIDSafe Plan and Workplace attendance register templates.

To leave no doubt for members, a reminder as per advice provided in our update on 9 November 2020, (IMPORTANT NEWS ABOUT RELAXATION OF COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS), is that members can now conduct a COVIDSafe visit to a new client’s occupied premises, to commence design works, according to their COVIDSafe plan prior to any construction project being commenced/ underway. The original source of this information was an FAQ, that is no longer published. Since September, the Chapter had been making extensive inquiries and written to Coronavirus.vic.gov.au, DHHS and the Building Minister to seek clarity on this issue. The response came when this FAQ finally appeared on pages that the Chapter had been regularly monitoring,

Can staff attend clients’ homes or clients’ workplaces to carry out work that can’t be done from home?

Victorians can leave home to go to work if the task or service cannot be carried out from home. They can also enter another person’s home or premises for work purposes, such as site inspections, real estate settlements involving exchange of keys and documents, or supporting clients with special needs.

However, they should ensure there are no other alternatives to offering this service, and they must ensure they always follow their COVIDSafe Plan as well as the six workplace COVIDSafe principles.

We also remind members that the coronavirus.vic.gov.au is the most relevant site for industry information. Many Victorian Department of Health and Humans Services (DHHS) “tiles” link straight to the coronavirus.vic.gov.au pages. However, for more clinically focussed and epidemiological information (such as aggregated case data), that members might be interested to read, is best found on the DHHS website.

#HANDSOFFANZACHALL SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN

We wish to thank Members who signed a petition or forwarded posts as part of the Institute’s “Hands off Anzac Hall” Social Media campaign. Disappointingly, on 10 December, the Federal Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley MP,  announced in a media release that she had approved the Australian War Memorial redevelopment proposal under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999. The Institute has responded by way of a media release on 11 December that can be read here. Institute commentary can also be read in an article published on 14 December by ArchitectureAU.

MEMBER INPUT INTO INSTITUTE SUBMISSIONS TO THE AUSTRALIAN BUILDING CODES BOARD (ABCB)

The Australian Building Codes Board has several papers out for consultation that relate to the recommendations of the Building Confidence Report. These papers are making proposals that impact on the practice of architecture. The Institute would like to hear members views on the proposals and recommendations being put forward.

If you would like to provide comment to input into the Institute’s submissions, please respond by the date indicated below each discussion paper description. Input can be provided by emailing your responses to policy@architecture.com.au Members can also provide input  through the Institute’s recently launched ‘Community’ site via the Open Forum and clicking on the discussion thread, “RE: Australian Building Codes Board – New proposals that impact on architects”. A member log in is required to access the Institute’s Community site.

Building Design Acceptance

The paper outlines a framework that imposes a statutory duty on design practitioners to prepare documentation that demonstrates compliance with the National Construction Code (NCC). It also includes proposals for a more robust approach to third party review of designs, and to the documentation and approval of Performance Solutions and design variations. Download the discussion paper and a preview of the consultation questions here. Response due to the institute by Friday 28 January 2021.

Independent Third-Party Review

This discussion paper outlines a draft model process for independent third-party review. This model has proportionate actions tied to building complexity (risk) and uses the definition of complex buildings.  Download the discussion paper and a preview of the consultation questions here. Response due to the Institute by Friday 19 February 2021.

Mandatory Inspections

The discussion paper proposes a draft model process that prescribes an approach for minimum inspections proportionate to building complexity (risk) as a means of improving building outcomes through greater regulatory compliance. The risk-based approach would also determine additional inspection stages such as those relating to specific Performance Solutions or complex commercial buildings. The draft model details the proposed approach and how it is anticipated to work in practice. Download the discussion paper and a preview of the consultation questions here. Response due to the Institute by Friday 19 February 2021.

VICTORIA’S DRAFT 30-YEAR INFRASTRUCTURE STRATEGY

On Wednesday 9 December, Infrastructure Victoria, an independent advisory body, released its Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy. Infrastructure Victoria prepares a 30-year infrastructure strategy for Victoria, which is refreshed every three to five years. The agency also provides written advice to government on specific infrastructure matters and publishes research on infrastructure-related issues. There are 95 recommendations in the draft infrastructure strategy, which the Chapter is currently reviewing for the purposes of making a potential submission. Many of the recommendations address issues of climate change and sustainability as well as urban sprawl. There are also recommendations pertaining to social and affordable housing and a range of human services and community facilities such as Recommendation 89 “Deliver multipurpose shared social service facilities in the regions” that would likely involve Architects.

Find more information here. Opportunities to make a submission close on 26 February 2021.

MELBOURNE POLYTECHNIC COLLINGWOOD CAMPUS REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT – TENDER FOR PRINCIPAL DESIGN CONSULTANT AND SUPERINTENDENT

A tender is currently open on the Buying for Victoria website (formerly known as TendersVic) per Reference no. RFT-PDC-1020 A log-in is required to download the tender materials.

WATCHING BRIEF - BUILDING AND UPGRADING KINDERGARTENS ACROSS VICTORIA

One of the Victorian State Government’s 2020-21 state budget initiatives is the investment of a further $38.5 million into the Building Blocks grants program, which offers early childhood providers funding towards building, expanding, improving and creating more inclusive early learning facilities. On 14 December, in a media re-announcement, Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt provided additional details that 127 kindergartens across Victoria will share in $46.9 million of funding (including this year’s budget announcement of the additional $38.5mi). The proposed funded works include:

  • Seven new early learning facilities,
  • Five new integrated children’s centres, 
  • Three modular buildings,
  • Twenty building expansions,
  • More than ninety kindergartens sharing in almost $8 million to undertaken improvements projects ranging from upgrades to outdoor play spaces, landscaping improvements and refurbishment of bathrooms.

As the program is delivered by the Victorian Department of Education and Training, procurement appears to be performed by the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) where there  is also information on the Construction Procurement and Opportunities page.

The page advises that, Forward notice of individual tenders is lodged on the Buying for Victoria (formerly TendersVIC) site in accordance with the requirements of the Ministerial Directions for Public Construction Procurement in Victoria. (At the time of writing, no recent tender information pertaining to an individual tender could be found).

END OF YEAR CLOSURE

The Victorian Chapter will be closed from Wednesday 23 December and we will be back online from Monday 4 January 2021. We wish all our members and their families a safe and enjoyable holiday period.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Institute. We look forward to working with you in 2021 to continue to advance the architecture profession.

Please note that the actual Chapter is still not physically open to members or visitors. We will advise members regarding reopening the building early next year.