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Update from Debbie Chin

Welcome to the first issue of Touchstone for 2012. I trust you all had a restful and enjoyable Christmas break and feel recharged for the year ahead.

Significant changes in the building and construction sector

There are two significant changes occurring in the building and construction sector during February and March 2012:

1. NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings

NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings is the leading Standard in New Zealand for the building and construction industry. It is used to design most homes and other low-rise timber-framed buildings.

Acceptable Solution B1/AS1 is a supporting document to the New Zealand Building Code clause for Structure (B1). Between August 2011 and 31 January 2012, which was a transition period, both NZS 3604:1999 and NZS 3604:2011 were referenced as Acceptable Solutions in B1/AS1. As at 1 February 2012, NZS 3604:2011 only is an Acceptable Solution for the structural design of light timber-framed buildings. You can read more in this month's Touchstone article.

2. Licensed Building Practitioners

The other change takes effect on 1 March 2012 and that is the introduction of Restricted Building Work (RBW). This means that most residential work requiring a building consent must be carried out by a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP). RBW applies to six licence classes – designers, carpenters, external plasterers, brick and block layers, foundation specialists, and roofers. There is more information in this month's Touchstone article.

Revision of NZS 3910:2003 – Conditions of contract for building and civil engineering construction

NZS 3910:2003 Conditions of contract for building and engineering construction is the most widely used standard form of contract conditions in New Zealand. It provides a standard form of general conditions of contract written in plain English to incorporate into construction contract documents. NZS 3910 is the New Zealand Standard of choice for contract conditions. It was developed for New Zealand industry sectors by New Zealanders who are experts in their fields. These experts include consulting engineers, contractors, builders, lawyers, and local government representatives.

NZS 3910 is clear, flexible, simple, and fair, and is compatible with the Construction Contracts Act 2002 and other New Zealand legislation. Positive relationships and better project outcomes result from the people involved in establishing and administering the contract working together, based on a well-defined set of conditions that are well understood by all parties.

NZS 3910 was first published in 1984 and has undergone regular revisions. It is now time for another revision to ensure it continues to meet the needs of New Zealand's building and construction sector. For more information read this month's Touchstone article.

Royal Commission into the Canterbury earthquakes

February 2012 is a special month for Standards New Zealand. On 3 February 1931, the Hawkes Bay region was struck by an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, causing devastation. The death toll was 258, fire spread throughout Napier and Hastings, major Napier buildings and landmarks were completely destroyed, areas of coastline were dislodged, and the landscape changed forever. This led to an urgent Government review and recognition that there was a need for more adequate standards for building design and construction. This work was then undertaken by the New Zealand Standards Institution, the forerunner to what is now known as Standards New Zealand.

February is also, of course, especially memorable for the people of Canterbury. Although the earthquake that occurred on 4 September 2010 was of a bigger magnitude, it was the 22 February 2011 earthquake that caused loss of life and more damage.

Standards New Zealand is closely following the progress of the Royal Commission into the Canterbury earthquakes. We have a critical role to play in the rebuilding of Canterbury. One of the recommendations arising from the Royal Commission's Interim Report released in October 2011 was 'that Standards New Zealand be required to initiate the process of amending current building Standards in light of the findings from the Canterbury earthquakes…'.

Following the release of the interim report, Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said, 'Recommendations in the interim report from the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission of Inquiry will support and assist the rebuild of Christchurch…I have instructed the Department [of Building and Housing] to lead work on [other] areas identified by the Commission including amendments to building Standards, which will further improve the performance of commercial buildings in severe earthquakes'.

Just prior to the release of the Royal Commission's Interim Report, the Department of Building and Housing had released its own Technical Investigation Report into the failure of the Pyne Gould Corporation, Forsyth Barr, and Hotel Grand Chancellor buildings. The investigation was carried out by a panel of leading New Zealand engineering consultants. The report found that the buildings failed 'principally because 22 February was an extremely violent earthquake and, when they were built, design requirements were not as rigorous as they are now…based on the findings, the expert panel has made a number of recommendations to improve building Standards and best practice. The Department is taking action on all the recommendations with immediate focus on the panel's priority recommendations. We are also working with the Structural Engineering Society of New Zealand (SESOC), the design profession, and Standards New Zealand on aspects of design, building detailing, and construction'.

It is imperative that everyone involved in the rebuild work together. For our part, Standards New Zealand has brought together sector stakeholders to discuss 'where to from here?' We are working with a wide range of industries including fire, insurance, electrical, gas, research, and engineering to discuss learnings from the earthquakes, the challenges ahead, and the direction we need to go in to help work towards a strong and resilient rebuild of the Canterbury region and up-to-date Standards. We will keep you informed on the work programme for amending Standards as soon as this is confirmed with the Department of Building and Housing. 

We are also presently developing our second submission to the Royal Commission. This submission relates to the issues arising under the Commission's terms of reference, Change of New Zealand design standards/codes of practice over time and appropriate future controls for new and existing building and Development of technical expertise in the design and construction of seismic-resistant buildings. There will be updates on our submission in future issues of Touchstone.

On 7 February 2012, the Royal Commission announced it will deliver its final report in stages. Part one of the final report will contain recommendations to inform early decision-making about the central city's recovery from the earthquakes and will be delivered by 29 June 2012. The rest of the Commission's final report will be delivered no later than 12 November 2012.

2011 Meritorious Awards

Standards New Zealand's annual Meritorious Service Awards recognise the exceptional hard work and dedication that individuals have contributed to developing high-quality Standards that assist New Zealanders in their everyday lives. The categories include:

  • 'Individual committee member' – Awards winners are nominated by their peers and judged by a panel including representatives from the building, energy, consumer, and health sectors.
  • 'Committee of the Year' – Standards New Zealand staff nominate committees that have, in their view, exhibited exceptional service and commitment.
  • The Standards Council award for 'Outstanding Contribution to Standards and Standardisation'.

We are moving this year's awards events to later this year, so we will be calling for nominations in April, with judging to take place in May, and the events themselves to be held in July/August. There is more information on the Awards on our website.

Standards at work

Compliance guide developed by Standards New Zealand used for new qualifications

In late January 2012, a team of Inland Revenue employees started the process of honing their compliance skills and knowledge at induction workshops held in Wellington and Auckland. The workshops are the country's first compliance programmes designed to earn the participants one of three new tertiary qualifications for public sector employees.

Learning State developed the qualifications and associated workplace learning programmes in partnership with compliance experts from across the public sector, as part of the Compliance Common Capability Programme (CCCP).

The CCCP is aimed at delivering better and smarter public services for less by supporting a government-wide, collaborative, problem-solving, and risk-based approach to compliance issues. A key resource for the programme is Achieving Compliance – A guide for compliance agencies in New Zealand, which was developed by Standards New Zealand and published in 2011.

For information on the qualifications, visit www.learningstate.govt.nz. You can download Achieving Compliance – A guide for compliance agencies in New Zealand from the Department of Internal Affairs website (www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Services-Information-We-Provide-Compliance-Common-Capability-Programme?OpenDocument).

Environment Court uses Standard to set noise limits for wind farms

In 2010, we published NZS 6808 Acoustics – Wind farm noise. This was a revision of a 1998 Standard and provides wind farm developers, local authority decision-makers, and communities with clear and robust methods for the prediction, measurement, and assessment of sound from wind farms.

In its decisions on two wind farms made subsequent to publication of NZS 6808, the Environment Court stated that it used the Standard as the basis for setting noise limits for those wind farms.

In August 2011, the development of a wind farm for Ohariu Valley in Wellington was approved by the Court and, in December 2011, approval of resource consent for a wind farm in Canterbury was granted. It is most gratifying to see our Standards in action, and helps validate all the hard work that goes in to developing them by our volunteers, industry, and nominating organisations.

Meeting rooms for hire

Standards New Zealand has a range of meeting rooms for hire. From meetings for as few as two people to seminars, conferences, or training for up to 60 people, we can accommodate your needs.

We are located in the heart of the Wellington CBD, with parking and accommodation next door. We can also supply catering and a full range of equipment.

Contact us next time you need a venue. Please visit our website for more information.

Debbie Chin, Chief Executive
Standards New Zealand

Published in general.

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