MBIE has launched two guides and accompanying FAQs for building professionals on assessing buildings following emergencies such as earthquakes or flooding disasters.
These guides were developed in response to the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission's recommendations around changes related to rapid building safety evaluations after a disaster. The guidance also allows for a more effective and efficient response in future events.
The key change is the shift away from the 'traffic light' system of red, yellow, and green placards to indicate the condition of a building. The colours that will instead be used are red, yellow, and white. Red means entry to the building is prohibited; yellow means restricted access; and white means light or no damage.
The Canterbury earthquakes showed that people assumed a green placard meant the building had no issues. In reality, it meant that on visual inspection the building could be used, but should have used further detailed evaluation. The new white placard will indicate that the building is poses low risk, but it does not necessary mean it is safe.
Other changes to New Zealand's emergency building management arrangements are the training of a core group of building experts and emergency managers to act as 'on-call' assessors, and amendments to the Building Act to strengthen its emergency provisions.
These new systems, manuals, and training mean New Zealand will be much better prepared to deal with building safety issues in the event of a future disaster.