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Chief Executive's Upfront Industry Feedback on
Future Options for Concrete Standards

Tuesday, 16 June 2020  
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In March 2020 I discussed how it is time to consider a more streamlined framework for the suite of structural design and material production Standards.

Rob Gaimster, Chief Executive

In particular, I looked at the options proposed by Dave McGuigan, Concrete NZ’s Manager – Structural Performance & Engineering Systems, in his 2019 Concrete NZ Conference paper - The Building Code System and a Future Direction for Standards That Support the NZ Concrete Industry.

Across February to April 2020, Concrete NZ conducted an online survey seeking its members’ feedback on options to rationalise, maintain and fund the current collection of Standards, as well as potentially adopt international Standards.

The survey findings provided some interesting and useful responses, the key elements of which are outlined here.

RATIONALISE STANDARDS
The survey indicated strong support (90%) for rationalising the current framework of concrete Standards, reducing the number to around four which would cover design, production, concrete materials, and construction

Of the twenty plus current New Zealand Standards for concrete the three considered to be most in need of updating were:

  • NZS 3109:1997 – Concrete Construction
  • NZS 3101:2006 – Concrete Structures
  • NZS 3114:1987 – Specification for Concrete Surface Finishes

It must be noted that NZS 3104:2003 – Specification for Concrete Production is currently under review, with a 2020 version expected to be published shortly.

MAINTAINING STANDARDS
The survey also revealed overwhelming support for the establishment of ‘Standing Committees’ (94%).

This was seen as a way to provide more consistent monitoring of the maintenance and development needs of Standards, facilitate succession planning and better inform the ongoing research needs to support Standards revisions.

Most survey respondents had not been on a Standards Committee (79%), with some respondents expressing the view that the Standards development process required improvement and that Standards committees need to be more balanced and have ‘relevant’ representatives.

The belief that committee members should be compensated for their time also came through clearly in the responses.

INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
The survey asked participants if they favoured maintaining existing New Zealand Standards versus adopting international design Standards, with opinion divided equally.

Of those that supported adopting international Standards preference was spread between American Concrete Institute (ACI) and Eurocode documents, with a lower level of support for developing joint AS/NZS Standards.

FUNDING STANDARDS
The survey indicated that the funding for the development of Standards should come primarily from Government and/or the Building Levy, respecting that Standards support the New Zealand Building Code and the wider building regulatory system.

Survey respondents also signalled their belief that secondary funding should come from industry, as has been the case with New Zealand ready mixed concrete producers funding – through Concrete NZ - the review of NZS 3104.

Other themes expressed from survey participants included the requirement for more regular updates of Standards, and that the documents themselves be simplified to make them more user friendly and enable compliance to be more easily demonstrated.

MOVING FORWARD
Next steps may include widening the survey audience to seek feedback from other groups, such as members of the Structural Engineering Society of New Zealand (SESOC), a key user group of structural Standards.

The direction of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Building System Performance branch to implement a long-term Standards development programme will also be clarified.

This will help broaden discussion, inform decision making and ultimately set the future direction that the construction sector, in partnership with MBIE as the building regulator, will take to safe guard these hugely important documents that help achieve consistent outcomes for the built environment.