A Guide to the Changes in the NCC Process for Using Performance Based Design

Omnii

The introduction of the NCC Clause A2.2(4) on 1 July 2021 has resulted in a change to the process for developing Performance Solutions. The Omnii Team have prepared this summary to provide guidance on the revised process and what it means for fire engineering briefs and reports.

What has happened?

The Shergold-Weir Building Confidence report commissioned by the Building Ministers found that documentation supporting Performance Solutions were often inconsistent and of poor quality. It also concluded that the industry lacked a robust or transparent best-practice approval process.

On this basis, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) announced the introduction of Clause A2.2(4) into the NCC 2019 Amendment 1 to improve the reliability of Performance Solutions. Note, this process is not mandatory for any buildings subject to previous revisions of the NCC.

What does this mean?

What this means is that the NCC provisions for developing Performance Solutions is now legislated under the NCC Governing Requirements and must be used by all practitioners when developing Performance Solutions.

The Australian Building Codes Board announced the introduction of Clause A2.2(4) into the NCC 2019 Amendment 1 to improve the reliability of Performance Solutions.

What do we need to do?

Omnii follows this process and the industry is well accustomed to the use of Fire Engineering Briefs and the process around agreement. However, the new NCC Part A2.2(4) details the steps required where a Performance Solution is to be used to show Compliance with the Performance Requirements which now applies to any Performance Solution (not just fire safety).

To summarise, the process required is as follows:

a. Prepare a Performance Based Design Brief (PBDB)

b. Carry out the analysis

c. Evaluate the results


d. Prepare final report

Prepare a Performance Based Design Brief

The PBDB must be developed in collaboration with key stakeholders as part of the performance based design and approval process. The purpose of the PBDB is to record fundamental activities and outcomes of the performance based design process, as agreed during key stakeholder negotiations. In the context of fire, this is like the Fire Engineering Brief (FEB) process but with one fundamental shift whereby all relevant stakeholders need to understand and accept the contents of the FEB prior to a final report being produced. This is a major change from how FEBs were previously agreed and now forms a hold point in design until agreement is reached.

The general process consists of:

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1. Scope the proposed solution
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2. Communicate with key stakeholders
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3. Document data relevant to:
The subject building; The scope and basis of the proposal; Applicable Performance Requirements; Applicable assessment process; Scope of supporting evidence; Agree acceptance criteria; Format and content of a final report
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4. Stakeholders sign off on agreed PBDB

Carry Out Analysis

During this process and to assure compliance with the NCC, a Performance Solution must be evaluated according to one or more of the Assessment Methods outlined in the NCC.

The general process consists of:

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1. Agreed method of analytical assessment
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2. Carry out analytical assessment
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3. Clarify and assess results
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4. Do the results meet the agreed acceptance criteria?
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4.1 If "No", re-evaluate analytical assessment methods and go back to Item 1.
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4.2 If "Yes", proceed with results

Evaluate the Results

During the process of analysis, multiple trials or design scenarios may have been considered and analysed.

It is necessary to collate and evaluate the results from the analysis process and draw conclusions to form the final report. The evaluation needs to consider the agreed acceptance criteria for the analysis as set out in the agreed FEB.

The general process consists of:

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1. Completed analysis and results
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2. Collate and evaluate results
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3. Final results
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4. Comparison with agreed acceptance criteria
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5. Report

Prepare Final Report

The final report, being the Fire Engineering Report (FER) should clearly demonstrate that the NCC Performance Requirements agreed in the agreed FEB have been met.

Other Design Process Considerations

a. Who are the relevant stakeholders?

The ABCB has produced a handbook and guidance notes which provides a list of who key stakeholders may be.

Generally, key stakeholders in a Performance Solution include:

  • building owner or owner’s representative
  • builder or project manager
  • relevant design process practitioners such as:
    • architects
    • engineers (structural, hydraulic, fire safety, civil, etc.)
    • design specialists (ESD, HVAC, etc.)
    • building design professionals
    • trade practitioners
  • appropriate approval authority, including building surveyors
  • other relevant agencies related to:
    • health
    • environment
    • fire safety
    • infrastructure (water, sewerage and stormwater)
  • representatives of any other relevant party

b. What happens if the design changes after the FEB stage?

Should there be a design change which impacts the agreed FEB content, then it will be necessary for the process for the change to be revisited and that the stakeholders reconfirm agreement.

Next Steps

If anyone would like further information, Omnii would be more than happy to step you through any implications the new NCC Part A2.2(4) may have for you. Our best contact is via enquiries@omnii.com.au

References

This article is a high-level summary of the following source material. It is highly recommended that these be read. They are freely available for download or online reading.

NCC 2019 Amt 1 Volume 1
Handbook: Performance Solution Process
Performance Solution Process – Guidance Document
Process for developing Performance Solutions, A2.2(4) now in effect