Holistic Considerations concerning Performance Based Building Codes (USA & International readership)


Professor Lovegrove wrote a paper titled “Holistic Considerations concerning Performance Based Building Codes”. The paper was presented to the American Society of Fire Engineers in Washington DC in 1996. At the time I was the Deputy Executive Director at the ABCB, a position that I relinquished in the late nineties.

At the time the USA was considering introducing performance based building regimes in a number of jurisdictions and the paper was written to provide insights into the best way performance regulation could be incorporated into building control regimes. It emphasised the importance of a holistic regulatory environment. It also was prepared against a backdrop of an international comparative analyses tour that the writer had recently completed.

Interestingly it featured some observations about flaws in the then NZ Building Code and the then NZ building regulatory regime. These observations were forthcoming well before the leaky building syndrome debacle in NZ that cost the country, billions and billions of dollars of rectification and literally wrecked the lives of a number of New Zealanders in subsequent years. The article identified that risk and accountability was not well thought through in the regime at the time. It also highlighted the risk that the performance regime would pose for NZ councils. Sadly some of the insights in the paper proved to be prophetic as a building regulatory apocalypse of sorts was to present itself in the late nineties that has led to a major overhaul in NZ building regulations and a return to a much more prescriptive building regulatory environment.

Australia went onto adopt a performance regime, which has proved to be more resilient, on account of the legislative “belts and braces” that complement the performance based BCA. There nevertheless still exist critics of performance building codes who maintain that performance regulation does not gel with private building surveying. The “jury is still out”.

The article is a “worthwhile read” as it “covers a number of bases” and has proved to be prophetic in certain respects.

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