29 June 2009
WESTERN Australia’s leading environmental architect Mr Garry Baverstock said rapid change was required in the way we build and renovate our properties and prepare for disasters.
Mr Baverstock who is the director of Wise Earth Pty Ltd and Order of Australia recipient said the increase in reported damage as a result of tornados and severe storms in recent years has reinforced the need for people to rethink the way they build structures and prepare for catastrophes.
“Most houses and buildings in and around Perth and the southwest will not withstand ongoing cyclones, severe storms and tornados,” said Mr Baverstock.
Mr Baverstock referred to the tornado that rampaged through Bunbury Friday last and cited coastal towns and suburbs, including Mandurah and Rockingham, as new hot spots for disasters.
He said many new homes did not comply with sustainable principles and people should feel short-changed if problems started to occur in their homes within ten years.
“A significant shift in building practices is necessary if homes and buildings are to sustain severe storms,” he said.
“The tie-down on roofing needs to be more solid, windows need to be stronger and houses should be designed to complement the surrounding environment,” he said.
Mr Baverstock said houses in Germany and Switzerland were built to ‘last the distance’ and Australian builders needed to construct sturdier structures.
He said investing extra money up front to construct a durable home will be cheaper to maintain in the long run and won’t fly away in a storm.
Mr Baverstock said people keen to live in solid homes should tell their architects, builders and local councils to adopt sustainable building policies and designs.
“If enough people place pressure on builders and local councils then building codes will change.
“The knowledge, technology and courses for built environment professionals are available, yet the take-up rate is low which explains why many architects and builders are unfamiliar with sustainable principles.
He said Murdoch University ran courses in sustainable design.
Mr Baverstock said the Bunbury tornado highlighted the urgent need for the state government to create a comprehensive disaster prevention and recovery policy.
He referred to the Auditor General’s ‘Coming Ready of Not: Preparing for Large Scale Emergencies’ report issued last month in which it was found state and local governments were unprepared for large scale emergencies, including storms and bushfires. (Ref: http://www.governmentnews.com.au/news/article/UWJQOZFULV.html)
“It is critical we act now in the creation of strategies that ensure Western Australians will know what to do before, during and after future disasters.
He said the City of Bunbury did not have a cyclone warning and planning policy and suggested it review those in place in other councils, such as at the Shire of Roebourne.
If it had a comprehensive cyclone and tornado policy then people on affected streets would have known what to do to prepare for and minimise damage that occurred.