Bushfires effect on buildings and materials

We would like thank the many people who are assisting in a research survey of both damaged and surviving buildings within the numerous fire zones from the "2009 Black Saturday" fires. The detailed survey has covered a small cross section of house sites, with observation of others and direct contact with many of Amcer Earth Building Technology clients in fire affected areas

We respect the privacy of those who have allowed us to enter their sites and spoken to us.

Analysis of the performance of masonry walls in extreme fire areas forms part of an ongoing research program.

Amcer are interested in obtaining additional samples of Mud/Earth brick, Stabilized earth, Fired brick, Concrete masonry and mortar samples from affected sites, for ongoing analysis from buildings built over the past 50 years.

The results of measurements, chemical analysis of soils, testing of material, and any available comment will be used to support submissions to authorities in a further effort to overcome the prejudice against earth buildings, and reinforce the benefits of earth construction.

The present 5 star rating system does not represent the ambience, comfort zone and performance that most residents with earth buildings have enjoyed. In N.S.W where the BASIX program is acceptable, designers and builders have the option to use this system to assess solar passive buildings with earth walls.

The 5 Star Rating system used in Victoria is computer generated, and based on the premise of housing being mechanically heated and cooled. There is no program that allows for naturally ventilated free-running designs, so well designed sustainable buildings suffer with low energy ratings.

The 5 Star energy rating program prejudices the rights of people to:

  • choose how they can reduce their impact on the environment
  • use low embodied energy earth bricks
  • have maximum input into their house design choice of materials, and 
  • the right to build accommodation that meets their requirements.  

New building regulations will impose additional costs for those rebuilding, and may restrict many people from replacing their home, because well meaning political rhetoric and regulations will override people’s rights, choice and common sense.

The fact that so many buildings of different designs, building fabric, variation of construction detail, and surrounding fuel loads, were lost or survived in the same area can not be explained by regulation alone.

Proposed amendments to the Victorian Planning Provisions, Building Codes, and Australian Standards will affect the rights of people to make decisions that could improve their safety and allow for commonsense decision making in many instances.