The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has a statutory function to conduct or promote research relevant to the regulation of the building and plumbing industries.
The VBA’s research program is a key strategic platform that gives us the evidence to inform our regulatory decisions and influence improvements to the building regulatory system.
Our research helps us better understand major regulatory harms or problems, the needs of consumers and how regulatory interventions can be shaped to improve public safety and amenity in the industry.
Our research makes a difference. Through our research findings or research partnerships, we:
- identify gaps and tailor regulatory interventions and program design to fix these gaps
- collaborate with stakeholders to enhance practitioner competencies and deliver improved outcomes for the community
- support and drive innovation and improvements in the industry.
Our research focus is on achieving one or more of these strategic outcomes:
- Safe (or safer) building and plumbing work with fewer major defects
- Skilled and competent practitioners
- A technologically advanced and innovative industry
- Confidence in the VBA and the regulatory system.
While some outcomes of our research are tangible or visible in the short term, much of its impact can only be measured over time as we engage with key stakeholders and the community to influence changes and drive improved consumer outcomes.
The VBA’s research program comprises:
- VBA managed research – where we commission or undertake the research
- Sponsorships or partnerships – where we collaborate with industry, academia and government on research.
The research we undertake is primarily applied research, with research projects or collaborations seeking to find solutions to specific problems or to advance our understanding of systemic issues and options for resolution.
The functions of the VBA under the Building Act 1993 include conducting or promoting research relating to the regulation of the building and plumbing industries in Victoria, and to report on the outcomes of this research in its report of operations under the Financial Management Act 1994 (the VBA’s annual report).
The VBA’s research program is overseen by the VBA Board’s Research and Innovation Committee.
The VBA has heard differing opinions from the building industry on the fire behaviour and risks associated with the use of rendered Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) (with fire retardant) in Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems (EIFS) on Class 2 to 9 buildings of Type A or Type B construction.
We engaged the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to conduct a literature review on EPS in EIFS and Insulated Sandwich Panels (ISPs) on Class 2 to 9 buildings of Type A or Type B construction. The CSIRO literature review identified, among other things, the lack of publicly available test or other evidence about the façade fire spread performance of this product as is typically installed in Australia for Class 2 to 9 buildings of Type A and B construction.
We subsequently commissioned an independent full-scale fire test to test the fire spread performance of EPS (with fire retardant) in EIFS on Class 2 to 9 buildings of Type A or Type B construction.
The VBA’s Industry Update (PDF, 552.42 KB) summarises the test findings and conclusion that rendered EPS in EIFS has a similar propensity for vertical fire spread to aluminium composite panels (ACP) cladding with 0% inert filler (commonly described as 100% polyethylene core) wall systems when exposed to large fire sources.
Download the literature review and reports.
Note: The Minister for Planning announced a prohibition on the use of the external wall cladding products ACP and EPS for any building work in connection with buildings of Type A and Type B construction, effective 1 February 2021. The VBA has prepared an Advisory Note (PDF, 485.37 KB) about this prohibition.
- Fire safety protection in multi-storey buildings (VBA managed project – completed 2019-20)
- Use of behavioural insights to reduce improper service penetrations (VBA managed project – in progress 2020-21)
- An Australian Technical Evaluation Network (ATEN) to improve product information and building safety (Sponsorship – completed 2019-20)
- Fire safety of rendered expanded polystyrene (EPS) in Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems (EIFS) on Class 2 to 9 buildings of Type A or Type B construction(VBA managed project - completed 2020-21)
- Routine servicing of wet fire protection equipment (VBA managed project - in progress 2020-21)
- Monitoring and remediation solutions for combustible cladding on buildings (Sponsorship – in progress 2020-22)
Research Grant Program
The VBA has a Research Grant Program available to Australian education Institutions looking to undertake research that contributes to and fosters a better understanding of issues relevant to the regulation and performance of the building and plumbing industries in Victoria.