How Can You Design a Bushfire-proof Home?



Once again, bushfire season is upon us, and for many Australians, it’s a time of anxiety when it comes to considering the safety of their friends, family and home.


There is no shortage of tips when it comes to protecting your house retroactively, but recently there has been a surge in thinking proactively. Instead of designing your dream home and then altering it later to fit bushfire safety standards, it is even more beneficial to design your home specifically so it has more chance of being left standing if a bushfire should ever sweep through.


How is my property at risk? Starting at the very base of the design process, the best way to find out what kind of risk your property has in bushfire season is to get a professional to conduct a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment. The assessment will place your property on a scale outlining the risk your property faces due to its proximity to bush, the slope of the property and the proximity to main roads, as well as a whole host of other factors. The BAL level determines the construction method and materials that must be used when building on your property.


For all properties, the main points of concern are embers becoming trapped in small spaces and the escape plans in a fire emergency. For example, if you have a timber deck that is at risk of catching fire, do you have another way to exit the house?


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by Ruth Newman | SOURCEABLE

Glow-In-The-Dark Bicycle Path

glowing-blue-bike-lane-TPA-instytut-badan-technicznych-poland-6Cycling is one of the most eco-friendly ways to travel, and thanks to this solar-powered bike lane that glows in the dark, it just got even moreso.


The luminous blue cycling strip, which can be found near Lidzbark Warminski in the north of Poland, was created by TPA Instytut Badań Technicznych Sp. z o.o. It’s made from a synthetic material that can give out light for up to ten hours at a time once charged by the sun throughout the day. Although the concept was inspired by Studio Roosegaarde’s Starry Night bike lane in the Netherlands, the technology is quite different as the Dutch version uses LEDs whereas this one is entirely dependent upon solar power. It’s still in the testing phase at the moment, but let’s hope that this bright idea will be implemented in other countries in the very near future.


by James Gould-Bourn | boredpanda

NSW: Fire Safety Laws to get Tougher

fire-safetyNSW apartment blocks will be required to undergo annual fire safety checks under a proposed overhaul of the laws governing how buildings are certified.


The planned changes will include a stricter accreditation process for people in charge of certifications and more frequent checks of building owners who may be paying their own certifiers.


The move follows a review of the legislation that was highly critical of the way commercial and apartment buildings are certified and accredited as fire safe.


A coronial inquest into a fatal Sydney apartment block fire in 2012 found a string of individual and systemic failures led to student Connie Zhang’s death, including the building developer and strata manager’s lax attitude to safety.


Ms Zhang’s parents called for changes to building regulations after the findings came down last year.


“Certifiers play a critical role in the building process and these reforms will ensure safety and confidence in the system,” Regulation Minister Victor Dominello said.


The laws were especially imperative considering the construction boom NSW was currently experiencing.


The proposed laws will implement more annual inspections during and after a building’s construction, and tighter controls on who performs certain fire safety roles.


The draft bill will be available for public feedback next year.



How Intelligent Buildings Can Enhance Human Productivity

building-automationIn addition to increasing energy efficiency by permitting the unified management of the myriad sub-systems housed by a given facility, intelligent building technologies can also raise the productivity of their human occupants and thus benefit the bottom line of businesses.


Much of the attention directed towards intelligent building technologies has tended to focus on the benefits that they can bring to the energy efficiency and environmental impact of built assets.


Intelligent buildings can cut energy consumption and achieve more efficient resource usage by integrating multiple sub-systems into a single management platform, permitting the enhanced coordination and operation of a given facility as a whole.


Not only does this reduce the impact of a built asset upon the broader environment by shrinking its carbon footprint, it also translates into economic benefits for owners or occupants in the form of reduced utilities bills for power and water consumption.


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Is Eight Stories High Enough for Timber?

tall timber buildingThe 2016 edition of the National Construction Code allows for offices, hotels and apartment buildings constructed of wood up to an effective height of 25 metres or eight storeys under a deemed to satisfy (DTS) solution.


For many within the timber industry, this represented a watershed moment which would facilitate greater use of the product within the growing market for medium-rise apartment living.


With the increasing number of mega-tall buildings going up within CBD markets, however, questions surround how much impact this will really have and whether or not concrete and steel will continue to dominate in an environment where buildings are pushing 70 to 80 storeys.


With timber buildings rising to above 20 storeys overseas, meanwhile, further questions surround whether or not eight storeys will be sufficient over the longer term or will instead serve as more of a stepping stone on the way toward taller wooden buildings still.


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