The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) engaged the CSIRO to provide advice on the risks of external wall fire spread associated with the use of EPS concrete on external walls for existing Class 2 and 3 buildings of Type A or B construction.
EPS concrete is a building material that primarily consists of a blend of cement and EPS to form a block or board that can be used as part of a non-load bearing EIFS. EPS concrete has gained popularity in the building industry as it is a lighter alternative to autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC).
These two materials should not be confused, as EPS concrete is created by mixing in polystyrene beads, whereas AAC uses a foaming agent to create closed air pockets. As buildings required to be Type A or B construction have been constructed using EPS concrete, the VBA sought advice from the CSIRO as to the risk EPS concrete presents to existing buildings.
Following the recent earthquake near Mansfield, this Industry update is to remind the building industry of the importance of ensuring buildings are designed and constructed to comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC), Volume One and Volume Two. In addition, the building owners and facility managers should consider an out of cycle, post-earthquake ESM maintenance inspection to ensure all safety systems required for the building are maintained and working at the required operational level.
Introduction of the Professional Engineers Registration Act 2019
On 1 July 2021, the Professional Engineers Registration Act 2019 (PER Act) comes into effect. The PER Act introduces a new engineering registration scheme that will be co-regulatory, led by the Business Licensing Authority (BLA), supported by Consumers Affairs Victoria (CAV) and the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).
Engineers who provide professional engineering services in the areas of structural, civil, electrical, mechanical, and fire safety engineering must register with the BLA as a professional engineer, unless they work under direct supervision or only in accordance with a prescriptive standard.
Professional engineering services in the building industry
From 1 July 2021, engineers who provide professional engineering services to the building industry must hold the following with the BLA:
The role of an endorsed building engineer will include the existing functions and obligations under the Building Act 1993 (the BA Act), along with more broadly providing professional engineering services.
The VBA will continue to undertake:
In response to mixed opinions on the fire behaviour and risks associated with rendered expanded polystyrene (EPS) wall systems, the Victorian Building Authority engaged the CSIRO to undertake a literature review on the fire safety for exterior insulation finish systems and insulated sandwich panel as external wall systems.
The literature review identified, among other things, the lack of testing or other evidence for the façade fire spread performance of EPS as is typically installed in Australia for buildings of Type A and B construction. The VBA subsequently engaged a full-scale façade test of a rendered EPS wall system to better inform industry.
The Industry Update summarises the test findings and confirms the understanding that fire can rapidly spread, and that EPS poses a similar risk to 100% PE core Aluminium Composite Panel.
This guide provides information for contractors and trades required to work on sites that may be occupied by people who either have a confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) or are self-isolating due to suspected exposure. This guidance is based on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidelines for the Building and Construction Industry (Revision 3).
With effect from 1 February 2021, the Minister for Planning has declared under section 192B(1) of the Building Act 1993 (the Act), that certain high risk external wall cladding products are prohibited from use by any person in the course of carrying out any building work in Victoria in connection with a Type A or Type B construction building1 .