Demystifying combustibility & PI insurance: Making performance solutions easy

27 November 2019 Kingspan Insulation Australia
Kingspan & GIW event

Kingspan Insulation and GIW Environmental Solutions hosted an industry event on Thursday November 14 at Exchange Workspaces in Richmond, VIC.

Over 80 professionals, including architects, building surveyors, project developers, builders, engineers and distributors, showed up to hear the discussion on pressing construction industry topics such as combustibility and insurance.

A panel made up of range of industry experts was tasked with identifying ways to mitigate risk for stakeholders across the construction sector and clarifying ways NCC compliance can be achieved through the performance solution pathway.

Stephen Kip and event panel members

The panel was moderated by Stephen Kip, Fire Safety Engineer & Building Regulations Consultant, and made up of industry professionals from a range of backgrounds relating to the topics covered on the night-

Ari Akritidis, Building Surveyor, Board Member of BAB;
Blair Stratton, Fire Safety Engineer, Chapter Co-Chair Engineers of Australia Society of Fire;
Paul Smyth, Insurance Broker, Aon Australia;
and Gary Wertheimer, ESD Consultant, GIW.

Here are some of the key topics discussed:
Kingspan GIW Event Arrivals

Is DTS a better solution?

As Ari Akritidis pointed out, the construction industry is unique in the way that it offers two pathways to compliance, that are equally valid - deem to satisfy (DTS) and performance solution. However, the industry perception is that DTS is the better solution; which the panel argued isn’t necessarily the case. In the words of Blair Stratton, a DTS only approach could drive away the innovation and stagnate the industry. Performance solution pathway opens new venues for industry stakeholders to deal with current issues around making buildings more energy efficient, addressing the scarcity of real-estate space, as well as making buildings safer.

“As thermal envelope takes centre stage there will be more awareness in the industry”

With the introduction of more stringent energy efficiencies in the National Construction Code (NCC) 2019, some of the traditional systems are becoming challenging to use, for example in the wall applications, added Gary Wertheimer. Achieving thermal efficiencies, without relying on innovative products that are required to be covered by a performance solution will become an impossible challenge in the upcoming year.

Combustible or fit for purpose

The issue of fire safety in buildings is of the utmost importance, as it has far reaching consequences in the communities that inhabit those spaces, highlighted Blair Stratton. All design solutions need to keep the end users in mind, especially the fire brigades as they need to be able to understand and use the design in the worst possible circumstances. Ari Akritidis added that there should be no black and white rules about products being combustible or non-combustible, but rather there should be an approach that considers the levels of combustibility. Ultimately, products should be assessed on a basis of being fit for purpose and meeting the intent of the design.

What about the insurance?

The confusion around compliance pathways, combustibility and the impending problems that will arise with the enforcement of NCC 2019 energy requirements, is being further compounded by the PI insurance crisis currently gripping the construction sector in Australia. Paul Smyth from Aon Australia observed that at the moment there are too many unknown factors in the sector and that it will take some time for the insurance market to rebalance itself. The change will come from the confidence that comes from the construction industry and from the collaboration with the government, added Smyth.