Yet again, building façade compliance is a hot topic on a world-wide scale following the fierce Grenfell Tower fire in London, bringing into question the level of external wall cladding compliance to buildings in Australia and globally.

In recent years Australia’s building industry has embraced the use of external wall cladding systems from overseas suppliers which has resulted in non-compliant cladding products slipping through our ports, borders and our regiment system of Building Control and Australian Standard product certification process.

The key question is; “what can we do as building practitioners to ensure external wall claddings are in accordance with current building codes and Australian Standards?”

How to achieve compliance:

In order to ensure compliance is achieved, all external wall claddings must comply with the Deemed-to-Satisfy (DtS) Provisions of the National Construction Code (NCC).

The NCC requires that a building must have elements which will avoid the spread of fire. This requirement is achieved by the implementation of non-combustible external walls including any attachments (i.e. cladding).

A non-combustible external wall cladding prevents fire-spread through the building’s façade and as such, prevents incidents like the Grenfell Tower inferno.

External wall claddings which do not fulfil the DtS Provision but achieve compliance with the Performance Requirements; may be approved by a registered fire safety engineer in conjunction with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) or Country Fire Authority (CFA).

A Performance Solution report needs to demonstrate compliance via documentation, including research studies and professional justifications. Furthermore, it must be determined that the material used is equivalent to, or greater than, the DtS Provision requirements. This allows architects, builders and building surveyors to be confident that the product is an innovative performance based product that will satisfy the requirements of the NCC and produce a fire safe building.

Evidence needed to confirm the product is compliant:

Evidence to support the compliant use of external wall cladding materials are:

  • A report issued by a Registered Testing Authority (Registered with NATA or an authority recognised by NATA);
  • A current Certificate of Conformity issued under the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) CodeMark scheme;
  • A Certificate of Accreditation issued by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC);
  • A Certificate issued under Section 238 of the Building Act 1993 by a registered fire safety engineer.
  • A current Certificate issued by a product certification body accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ);
  • Any other form of documentary evidence that correctly describes the properties and performance of the material or form of construction and adequately demonstrates its suitability for use in the building.

All methods of certification listed above must confirm that “The material is NOT deemed COMBUSTIBLE according to the test criteria specified in Clause 3.4 of AS1530.1-1994”.

Approved non-combustible cladding options:

The following external wall claddings have a Certificate of Test certification, confirming their non-combustible status in accordance with Australian Standard.

Product Name & Certificate Quote No. Report No. Date of Test Certificate Date of Issue
Vitracore G2 NC7442 FNC11476 3 September 2015 11 September 2015
Larcore A2 NC7633 FNC11734 20 June 2016 23 June 2016
Alcadex A1 NC7459 FNC11685 16 December 2015 11 April 2016
Knotwood Aluminium 414179-02.1 FNC11764 29 August 2016 31 August 2016
Loxo AAC 365312-00.1 FNC11463 18 August 2015 25 August 2015
Multiboard MgO NC7488 FNC11531 4 November 2015 11 November 2015
Ezylite Astrix NC6294 FNC9994 12 November 2010 16 November 2010