BCTRAG February 2020 meeting

Last updated: 7 April 2020

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Summary and materials of the February 2020 meeting of the Building Code Technical Risk Advisory Group (BCTRAG).


Dave Robson, the manager of Building Performance and Engineering, presented a business update focusing on the teams strategic priorities and technical programme with more detailed updates on the NZS3604 review and the climate change programme.

Jenni Tipler, Team Lead Engineering, outlined the MBIE prioritisation of Standards for review.

Presentations were also be made by Standards New Zealand on the development of Standards and Larry Bellamy and Paul Campbell, representing the Building Innovation Partnership, on the Design, Construction and Seismic Performance of Non-Structural Elements.

Time was set aside for an open forum to discuss proposed meeting changes, general issues and agree next steps.

Tranche 2 of Standards Prioritisation

The Building Code directly cites over 400 Standards to describe technical aspects of Building Code compliance. Therefore, in order to ensure that the Building Code is fit-for-purpose and reflects current knowledge, these cited Standards are reviewed on a regular basis.

In early 2019, BSP collaborated with Standards NZ to develop a methodology for prioritising the review of Standards that are cited in the Building Code. The prioritisation framework is based on seven parameters, three of which are determined by Standards NZ and four of which are determined by BSP. Each of the seven parameters are given a score, which are combined to help determine which Standards should be prioritised.

The prioritisation framework is only a tool to help BPE prioritise Standards. Inevitably, other factors influence whether a Standard that has been prioritised will be put forward for review, such as:

  • Resource: Does the industry have the resource available to support the revision? Are there other Standards committees/projects competing for this same resource?
  • Funding: Are there other stakeholders willing to contribute funding to an update?

Feedback from BCTRAG was sought on whether these Standards reflect industry's view on the Standards that are the highest priority for review.

Standards New Zealand – Development of Standards

Carmen Mak, Manager of Standards NZ presented a review of what Standards New Zealand does, how Standards are developed, the new ways of working by Standards New Zealand and how industry can work with Standards NZ.

Draft strategy paper on non-structural elements. commissioned by the building Innovation Partnership

Dr Larry Bellamy of University of Canterbury and Paul Campbell of WSP-Opus presented the preliminary findings and recommendations of an investigation into how fit for purpose building elements can be better delivered. This is work led by the Building Innovation Partnership (BIP), an industry led working group.

The presentation on this issue has not been made available as it is based on a preliminary draft report and the issues identified and recommendations made are likely to change significantly before the report is finalised. The final report is expected to be made publicly available.

Risks discussed

No risks were submitted for discussion by permanent or co-opted members of the BCTRAG.

In the absence of submitted risks for discussion, MBIE sought feedback on the following issues;

Airtight Buildings Causing Moisture Issues

Buildings are becoming more airtight. Airtightness increases with better air barriers and thicker insulation, which disrupts the traditional wetting-drying cycle previous buildings have relied upon. Water and water vapour becomes trapped within, or on the building fabric can cause major problems.

Airtightness is not a bad thing; it is actually beneficial. However, if buildings do not adapt properly to their changing constraints, airtightness causes more and different problems. Building methods can adapt by using controlled ventilation, heat recovery, better insulation and heating.

Issues associated with poor moisture management can lead to failing to achieve a warm, dry, healthy home.

Moisture issues in buildings can lead to deterioration of the building structure and other components as well as significant potential health risks for occupants.

This paper sought to provide brief background information to support a discussion on the industry view of the risk of airtight buildings causing moisture issues and to seek feedback on potential mitigation measures.

In discussion, the BCTRAG noted a number of issues and generally endorsed this topic as an area of focus for MBIE.

Battery Fires 

'Lithium–ion batteries' is a collective term used to describe a family of different kinds of batteries with different chemistries. There is no one standard for the chemistry and composition of Li-ion battery packs. Li-ion batteries are rechargeable. They are found everywhere, in a variety of applications:

  • Consumer electronics: Such as laptops, cell phones, power tools, toys. These can be found as individual items in a household or workplace, or stored in large quantities in warehouses.
  • Larger applications: Such as electric scooters, bicycles, vehicles, commercial aircraft auxiliary power units, satellites, military applications.
  • Electrical energy storage (ESS) and grid stabilization applications: In New Zealand, power companies are installing these as back-up systems, as are large institutions such as hospitals and shopping malls (Auckland mall has a solar system in place).

This paper presented background information on the potential fire risks associated with li-ion batteries.

Feedback from BCTRAG was sought on whether the Building Code adequately manages these risks given the increasing use of li-ion batteries.

In discussion, the BCTRAG noted a number of issues and the prioritisation of issues associated with energy sources within buildings is to be considered for a strategic discussion at the next BCTRAG.

Open Forum

Feedback on how BCTRAG members contribute to the forum was requested by the Chair.

In discussion, the BCTRAG noted a number of issues, the main areas of feedback concerned; the time allowed for BCTRAG members to consult members of their organisations; the ability to prepare to provide representation of members organisations; and the diminishing number of risks being raised.

MBIE agreed to consider the feedback from BCTRAG on how BCTRAG members contribute to the BCTRAG meeting and will propose changes, request feedback and consider implementing some process changes prior to the next meeting.

Next steps

The date of the next meeting has not yet been confirmed due to the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions. When this date is confirmed, it will be updated here and communicated to BCTRAG permanent and co-opted members.

If you have any risks you would like to be raised for discussion please contact the BCTRAG member associated with your role in the industry.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: