A decade in review: Conducting research to benefit the industry

Light bulb drawing
The VBA conducts and promotes research relevant to the regulation of the building and plumbing industries in Victoria.

Over the past decade, this has included participation in programs such as:

  • Swinburne University of Technology’s research on minimisation of damage to residential structures due to ground movement; and
  • a partnership with the Low Carbon Living Cooperative Research Centre to identify how information, education, best practice regulation, codes and standards could maximise low carbon living outcomes in new and renovated buildings.

We have also provided support for various bushfire-related programs, such as private bushfire shelters, flame-zone window screens and a bushfire attack level assessment in response to the February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

In 2019, the VBA’s research program focused on areas that better informed our regulatory activities, improved the skills and expertise of industry professionals and better protected the Victorian community.

One priority was fire safety, including analysis of fire safety protection (such as warning systems, travel distance to exits, fire-isolated stairways, self-closing or smoke-sealed doors, and sprinkler systems) in 372 buildings included in the Statewide Cladding Audit. Performance of class 2, 3 and 9 buildings constructed in Victoria over the past ten years were also assessed for fire safety protection (beyond external wall cladding) against the deemed-to-satisfy requirements of the National Construction Code.

Our findings indicate that many of these buildings have some form of active systems for fire safety (i.e. a smoke detector, alarm signalling, sprinklers or hose reels) that are manually or automatically activated when exposed to the products of fire, to compensate for the absence of passive systems that are built into the structure and fixtures of the building (for example, an egress exit, exit width, fire-rated door or fire-isolated stairway).

The VBA also looked at the capacity of the construction and plumbing services training packages to prepare plumbers to develop performance solutions and gain a better understanding of the causes of higher incidences of non-compliant plumbing work.

Research findings are shared with DELWP and relevant bodies, such as the Plumbing Advisory Council, to inform their activities.

We also continued our support for universities and research organisations investigating initiatives to advance the industry.

The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering at the University of Sydney published three reports on fire safety engineering, while Swinburne University ran a scoping study for the Establishment of an Australian Technical Evaluation Network.

In 2019, the VBA committed to supporting the Cooperative Research Centre Program bid, Building 4.0 CRC, led by a consortium comprising Monash University, the University of Melbourne, Lendlease and other industry, training and research participants. The Building 4.0 CRC bid, if successful, will provide an opportunity for the VBA to support the collaborative transformation of the building industry through sectoral, digital and building research programs.

In the New Year, the VBA looks forward to sharing information on its collaborative research engagements aimed at addressing key issues associated with fire safety.