Cladding describes the material used to cover the external wall of a building.
Common materials used for cladding include:
- lightweight panels, such as aluminium composite panels (ACPs)
- polystyrene products
- metal sheeting
External cladding material can be part of the wall or used as an attachment. Cladding materials can meet the ACT’s building safety standards if they are installed in accordance with the National Construction Code (NCC).
Purpose of the review
The ACT Government is carrying out a review to determine whether combustible cladding materials have been used in a way that doesn’t comply with ACT building standards, or poses an unacceptable risk to building occupants.
An Inter-agency Building Cladding Review Group has been established to:
- determine fire safety risks associated with the non-compliant use of external wall cladding including ACPs and potentially combustible claddings and wall systems on privately owned buildings in the ACT, and buildings owned or leased by the ACT Government
- provide expert advice on the scale of the use of non-compliant cladding in buildings in Canberra and on specific measures to manage any risk of rapid, external structure fires that may prevent safe evacuation of a building or buildings
- provide advice on what remediation or risk mitigation, if any, may be required on ACT Government buildings.
Buildings covered by the review
The review will initially include all buildings with National Construction Code classifications of Class 2–9 buildings in the ACT covered by the Building Act, with priority for buildings including classes 2, 3, 4, and 9 classifications of two storeys and higher.
Class 2, 3 and 4 buildings are residential buildings such as:
- student accommodation
Class 9 buildings include:
- health care
- public buildings
- entertainment venues
It can be more difficult for occupants to safely evacuate these buildings.
Single and attached dwellings (class 1 buildings) and associated buildings such as sheds, garages and carports (class 10 buildings) are not included as the fire safety risks for these buildings are lower and so there are fewer restrictions on the type of material used for external walls in these buildings.
The review does not include buildings located in the ACT but owned by the Australian Government. The Australian Government has undertaken to review its own buildings.
The review group
The review group members are:
- Dr Erin Brady, EPSDD Deputy Director-General, Land Strategy and Environment
- Vanessa Morris, EPSDD Coordinator, Building Policy
- Mark Brown, ESA Chief Officer, ACT Fire & Rescue
- David Foot, ESA Director, Risk & Planning
- Ben Green, Access Canberra Executive Branch Manager, Construction and Utilities and Construction Occupations Registrar
EPSDD chairs and coordinates the group.
Terms of reference
The review group will:
- as far as practicable, identify buildings on which ACPs or other materials have been used as external wall cladding in a way that is not, or may not be, compliant with the building code (identification methods may include assessment of building documentation and visual verification of the presence of cladding)
- undertake a risk assessment and prioritisation of identified buildings for further audit, inspection or remediation
- provide advice to the Minister, other directorates, building owners and occupants on managing any identified fire safety risks, including temporary fire safety precautions
- report to the Minister on findings of the identification and risk assessment and priorities for further work including short- and long-term management of buildings for which non-compliant cladding poses an unacceptable level of risk
- coordinate communications, briefing and reports in relation to the review and any identified safety risks
Amendment to the National Construction Code
The Building Ministers’ Forum directed the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to expedite changes to the NCC from a comprehensive package of measures for fire safety in high rise buildings developed following the Lacrosse Apartments fire in Melbourne in 2014. At its 23 November 2017 meeting, the ABCB endorsed the release and adoption of NCC 2016 Volume One Amendment 1. The Amendment took effect on 12 March 2018. All approval applications made from this date must comply with the NCC 2016 as amended.
The main aspects of the amendment include:
- a new Verification Method that adopts the external wall testing standard, AS 5113
- improving the evidence of suitability provisions
- clarifying the deemed-to-satisfy provisions relating to the fire performance of external walls
- referencing the updated sprinkler standard, AS 2118, with a transition period from the currently referenced version
Find out more about:
- construction industry requirements
- the correct use of building products and appliances
- the NCC Building Classifications guide
If you have any information that would help to identify the non-compliant use of ACPs or other combustible cladding materials on a building in the ACT, contact the Building Cladding Working Group on 02 6207 8370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.