As Executive Director – Building Policy at Housing Industry Association (HIA), Simon is responsible for overseeing HIA’s extensive involvement in relevant building codes, Standards Australia committees and manages the Building Services team nationally.
Simon has oversight for HIA responses to governments on relevant building policy issues that affect residential building work and building practitioners, particularly on issues such as energy efficiency regulations, accessibility, building products and building certification reviews.
Simon previously worked for the Australian Building Codes Board and has over 18 years’ experience working in the building and construction industry. Simon has a broad range of building and construction qualifications in fields of building, building surveying, project management and training and is a qualified carpenter.
Standards Australia (SA): How did you get involved in standards development?
Simon Croft (SC): My first interactions with Australian Standards started when I was an apprentice carpenter back in Melbourne in the early 2000’s, learning the ins and outs of AS 1684 (timber framing) at trade school. From there, I regularly interacted with standards both through owning my own business and training future carpenters, builders and draft persons on codes, standards and legal obligations at TAFE.
All of the above was great experience in learning the practical side of applying technical standards in real world situations. The insight it brought me has been invaluable when helping draft standards as a committee member and subsequently as a manager of staff on numerous committees.
The first Standards Australia committee I participated on was when I took up a role with the ABCB as a Project Manager in 2012 – the project was the revision of the roof tiling standard AS 2050. Over subsequent years I have been involved in a substantial number of Committees primarily related to Australian Standards referenced by the National Construction Code (NCC) applicable to residential buildings.
I currently oversee HIA’s extensive involvement on standards committees; presently my team sit on 30+ standards committees, which translates roughly to just over 100 standards.
SA: As a committee member, what is a project you’re particularly proud to have worked on?
SC: Each revision, amendment or new version of an Australian Standard has its own challenges and matters to overcome. As such, reaching consensus and publication of any standard is an achievement that all committees should be proud of.
In my role I get to sit on or oversee the development of several important standards effecting the built environment. These include AS 3959:2018 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas AS 1428.1-2009 Design for access and mobility, Part 1: General requirements for access, AS 3740-2010 Waterproofing of domestic wet areas and a number of wind loading standards and material standards.
From time to time, we have also been involved in other projects such as the labelling technical specifications, battery standard, WHS standards and various other industry projects. Having worked on so many projects that assist Australian communities it is hard to pick just one as a stand out!
SA: With coronavirus affecting many industries across the country, what are some of the challenges being faced by the building and construction sector?
SC: Fortunately, Governments have acknowledged that building is an essential service and building sites have been able to stay open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – though with different working practices and strategies in managing sites.
During the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions and the subsequent lockdown, HIA and our members adopted a set of industry guidelines and systems to help builders, trade contractors and suppliers stay safe on a building site. This included a limit of workers on site and scheduling of work, ensuring social distancing and other government requirements were being adhered to. We have also been providing support for the industry through our release of resources since March such as the ‘making space on site guidelines’.
SA: What is the future of standardisation?
SC: With the move to virtual meetings, standards committee work has looked a lot different and from my perspective and that of HIA, this is a move that has been embraced by committee members. The change means there are time and cost saving benefits and has seen the productivity of committee work increase with which more targeted meetings and outcomes. Anecdotally, attendance levels in meetings have increased with few apologies to meetings.
I am also a Standards Australia Councillor and our last meeting and first ever one held virtually had the highest attendance recorded for a council meeting with 80+ people videoing in. Going forward it is likely that many organisations will move completely to virtual participation in standards work when restrictions are lifted in future.
Given the release in late 2019 of the new Standards Australia Distribution Framework we are also likely to see number of new opportunities in terms of distribution and a shift to more digital friendly standards.
An example of the opportunities that the new framework offers, was the recent joint initiative of Standards Australia and the Federal Government to open access to the bushfire standard, AS 3959. This was done to assist in the rebuilding process and minimising barriers to access the rules for building in bushfire prone areas following the devastating 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires. It has been a welcome moved by all those I have spoken to and is an example of what can be achieved in the future for standards.