NEW BUILDING STANDARDS IN THE WORKS

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A new Regional Building Standards (RBS) document aimed at harmonising standards within the construction sector should soon be at the disposal of regional building specialists. The document, according to Project Coordinator, Michael Wood, will allow regional architects, engineers and others employed in the construction sector, to integrate novel concepts into their building designs.

On Wednesday, March 18, technocrats in the public and private sectors, heard first-hand how the instrument would transform the regional construction climate during the official launch of the National Technical Sub-Committee. The event, held at the Savannah Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church, was facilitated through the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI’, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); while the RBS venture is being managed by a project executing unit within the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality, (CROSQ). It is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Providing an overview of the document, Mr. Wood said it was born out of a need to replace the Caribbean Uniform Building Code (CUBIC) with a new set of guidelines. He further explained that attempts were made as far back as the mid 1970s to develop a Caribbean uniformed building code, without meaningful success.

He further stated that CUBIC was not successfully implemented because the document was incomplete and there was a lack of participation from stakeholders during its development. As a consequence of this, the Project Coordinator said the text was now out-dated.

In outlining the benefits of using the RBS, Mr. Wood said: “The documents will be based on International Building Codes (IBC’s) by reference, along with the preparation and production of the Caribbean Application Documents (CAD’s). These instruments, will be used to address problems peculiar to the region.”  Mr Wood also stated that: “There are some situations in the Caribbean which the IBC – as a base code – will not address. So, in this instance, the CAD’s will be used to address such issues.” 

Underlining the importance of the National Technical Sub-Committee’s role, in the preparation of CAD’s, he said a number of consultancies had been established to ensure the seamless implementation of the RBS programme. These consultancies will also be funded by the CDB.

As part of the programme, the official from CROSQ said seismic hazard maps, covering 16 regional territories, including the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands, would be created at a price tag of US$237,000. He also stated that Rainfall Intensity Duration Frequency Curves and Hazard Mapping Consultancies covering six countries, would be created at a price tag of US $126,000.

To date, six technical sub-committees have already been set up across the region to assist with the production of CAD’s.

At the end of the presentation, head of the Barbados Consumer Research Organisation, Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt, highlighted the need for consumer involvement in the process.

Meanwhile, Acting Director of the BNSI, Anthea Ishmael, indicated that consumers played a pivotal role in the development of standards.

In the feature address, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Division of Trade, Industry and Commerce, Ernesta Drakes, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, said the project would facilitate safer and more efficient design of buildings throughout the Caribbean.

Noting that the construction industry had grown into one of the largest sectors, she said major projects often required coordination among many different countries, including decisions about which standards were relevant to the industry. 

jwilson@barbados.gov.bb

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