The regulatory framework for the built environment is moving away from reliance on regulation. Instead, the Australian Building Codes Board is developing handbooks for performance solutions. The Upgrading Existing Buildings handbook is one such publication. It relates to all buildings other than private housing. The handbook is only a guide, leaving potential for other ways of getting the same outcome.
The 57 page document includes appendices for each of the states and territories. Also included are legislation, regulations and design responsibilities. The key content is in the five steps:
- Locate related documentation
- Undertake an on-site inspection
- Compare expected performance
- Identify actual deficiencies
- Alleviate actual deficiencies
There is a section on people with disability which refers to the Access to Premises Standard. The handbook refers readers to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s guidelines for help. The five step process is applied with explicit reference to accessibility. For example, paths of travel and sanitary facilities.
The takeaway message is that Performance Solutions may be the only practical solution to address actual deficiencies, and this is where a Universal Design approach will be most beneficial.
The 2020 version of the Upgrading Existing Buildings handbook updates the 2016 version. It reflects the move away from mandatory regulation to performance requirements.