Work has begun on updating building code
Work has begun on updating the country’s building code, adapting it for climate change, energy efficiency and sustainability and renewable energy, with Deborah Deal, who sits on the national technical committee of the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ), imploring industry stakeholders to make their contributions.
“We just got all the documents that we needed last week, so we will probably in the next two weeks start a committee and then we will bring in the stakeholders, contractors, surveyors, architects, engineers, heavy equipment operators, people who sell building materials and all of those kinds of people would need to come and look at it,” she said in an interview with Guardian Business yesterday.
“If the stakeholders don’t show up, then whoever does show up we vote on it ourselves. So we need stakeholders in each of the categories, if they really want to have their voices heard on the things that we’re looking at.”
The BBSQ was charged with updating the building code by May 2019, however Deal said she doesn’t believe the project will meet that deadline.
Deal, who is also a contractor, has ideas to improve the code.
“Let’s say with climate change, we’d have to look at having foundations further off the ground, having buildings be built off of the shore line and that kind of thing,” she said.
“Right now, there’s nothing in the code that says hurricane shutters are mandatory and hurricanes happen every year, it makes no sense. And you hear the ministry of works saying it makes buildings too expensive, well the government having to rebuild homes for people is also very expensive. Why not have it mandatory that you have to have hurricane shutters of some sort? They don’t have to be $10,000 roll down shutters, but you have to have shutters on your home. That kind of thing.”
Other things she’d like to see added to the new building code include requirements to insulate attics, as well as changing some industry standards like the direction entry doors swing.
“Insulation in attics should be like r30 insulation, because I do think that we need to keep our buildings cooler if we’re going to have to air conditioning. If the roof is cooler, then your home is going to be cooler and your air conditioner is going to be a lot more efficient. We need not only impacted windows but also insulated windows, so that the heat doesn’t come in,” she said.
“We need best practices where the doors open out instead of opening in. Because a door opening in, you can check any door, the only thing that’s stopping that from blowing in (during a storm) is a little latch that goes into the door frame. But a door that opens out, when the wind during a hurricane pushes on that door, it’s got the concrete lip at the bottom, door trim, locks, things that will actually stop it from blowing in. Once a door blows in it’s easy for the roof to pop off in a hurricane.”
Deal said once a committee is formed, industry stakeholders will review international and regional standards to determine what’s best for The Bahamas, vote on which new standards will be added and send the improved code to Cabinet for approval.
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