Research leader

Prof Alan March
Prof Alan March Research Leader

Research team

This project was commissioned and funded entirely by Resilience NSW.

Resilience NSW commissioned the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC to conduct research on building standards and heatwaves to strengthen mitigation within NSW.   

The project, led by CRC researcher Prof Alan March from the University of Melbourne, studied the existing building standards within NSW in response to a recommendation made from the 2017 NSW State Level Emergency Risk Assessment (SLERA). It considers the overall comprehensiveness of the NSW building codes in terms of their contributions to selected elements of heatwave resilience. It identifies success, opportunities and issues relating to the contribution of building codes to natural hazard resilience.

Heatwave is responsible for approximately half of natural hazard deaths in Australia. Better use and integration of building codes with other mechanisms could allow for significant reduction in heatwave risks, and support adaptation to a changing climate.

This research reviews key literature and considers the overall comprehensiveness of NSW building codes in terms of their contributions to selected elements of heatwave resilience. It identifies opportunities and issues relating to the contribution of building codes to natural hazard resilience. Overall, it suggests that there is no effective acknowledgement of heatwave in the National Construction Code, and that there is limited integration between building and other key systems such as land use planning, health services and emergency response.

The final report outlines eight focus areas where further research and action is needed that focus on heatwave. These are:

  1. internal building temperatures
  2. heatwave ratings
  3. future heatwave risks
  4. addressing occupant and building vulnerabilities; and geographical differences
  5. integration of land use planning and other relevant mechanisms
  6. retrofitting buildings
  7. risk-based settlement planning
  8. use of passive and redundancy systems

The summary report outlines a generalised method to assess building codes, their application in New South Wales, and related mechanisms in terms of their contribution to natural hazard resilience, identifying areas for improvement and further research.