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The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has made a significant step towards achieving $1.1 billion of productivity gains in the construction sector. Among the planned changes is a proposal to alter the code for emergency lighting to be more performance based. The proposed change to the National Construction Code (NCC) will use terms such as “visibility in an emergency” rather than the somewhat archaic “emergency lighting”.

This will allow alternative technologies, such as Ecoglo’s photoluminescent systems, to be used more easily. Already manufacturers and distributors of electrical emergency lighting are weeping and wailing about the proposals – no doubt their industry magazines and other propaganda tools will soon resume their railing against progress.??The ABCB, in their overview supporting the changes, has identified that “a prescriptive mindset continues to exist in the majority of industry practitioners and regulators”. There are a variety of reasons why this mindset is such a barrier. Old habits and the ease of “tick the box” solutions are among the reasons this mindset endures

Alternative photoluminescent technology is the newby. The incumbent electricity suppliers have had years of lunches and trips to the footy to build relationships where they put their case using partial science and partial truths to block competition.

The “Deemed to Satisfy” solution (known in NZ as the Acceptable Solution) is only one of many ways to meet the building code. The incumbents point to the “Deemed to Satisfy”(DtS) and say “that’s the code, new technologies don’t fit into the DtS therefore they don’t comply with the code.” If this attitude to progress was widespread we’d all still be reading by candle light!

According to the ABCB background document this short sighted behaviour is contributing to a $1.1 billion cost to the Australian economy, a number that is too great to ignore.

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