Buildings Must Be More Resilient To Face Future Hazards

Insurers seek more influence in building design, by Scott Clarkson, Project Manager CSR Innovation

In the past few years there has been a necessary and concerted effort by government and industry to investigate how best to improve the overall resilience of buildings.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) is also leveraging its experience in insured losses within the built environment to promote the resilience of buildings in Australia. In 2011, the ICA established the Australian Resilience Taskforce (ART) with the objective of improving the overall resilience of the Australian built environment.

“In 2011 the insurance industry paid more than $5 billion in building damage costs following declared catastrophes, in addition to the normal $115 million paid by the industry every day for other claims, including those for property damage following localised extreme weather.” Australian Resilience Taskforce – Overview and Functional Description, Insurance Council of Australia, October 2012.

Since then the Taskforce has developed the Building Resilience Rating Tool (BRRT) and the Building Resilience Knowledge Database (BRKD) of commonly-used building products and materials.

 

Both of these initiatives will allow communities and the industry to make informed decisions about building materials according to the intended application within a building, with reference to common hazard types such as Inundation (fresh and salt water) or Storm (wind, rain and hail).

Building Resilience Rating Tool

Early in 2013, the pilot model of the BRKD was launched and, with the support of building products manufacturers, the ICA is now seeking to populate the database to cover all common applications and materials.

The BRRT has been designed to directly encourage homeowners, homebuyers, homebuilders and property professionals to improve materials selection and design.

Tom Davies of Edge Environment, which has been working with the ICA on the development of the BRRT and the BRKD, said: “Both these new tools give owners and industry members the information they need to make fundamental decisions about the resilience of their house and its ability to withstand extreme weather events.”

The BRRT provides information based on the location of the dwelling to identify the likely hazards for that location and better inform decisions about the surrounding design and material use – ultimately leading to improved building resilience.

The current version of the BRRT is focused on stand-alone residential properties. Future development will incorporate strata and commercial construction types.

Beta testing for BRRT 2.0 commenced on 6 September 2013. Anybody with relevant experience and knowledge is welcome to apply to review the tool and provide input through the Beta testing program. The ICA intends to release a public version of BRRT 2 once all feedback from stakeholders has been addressed and user inputs refined, this is expected to be released towards the end of 2013.


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