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Meet an OAA Volunteer: Elektra Vrachas

05 Sep 2019
Image Credit: Elektra Vrachas
Architectural Credit: NA
OAA members who volunteer on Committees are vital to the Association’s work, with a diversity of voices, opinions, skills and knowledge critical to its decision-making process.
Right now, there are vacancies opening up for three-year terms in 11 OAA groups, ranging from the Regulatory, Interns and Communications Committees to the Sustainable Built Environments Committee (SBEC) and Policy Advocacy Coordination Team (PACT). If you’ve ever considered sharing your skills, perspective and experience to serve the profession and the public interest, now is the time! (To find out more about how to put your name forward by October 18, click here.)
To help demystify what OAA Committees do and what work is involved, we’ll be sharing the stories of OAA volunteers on the blOAAg over the month of September. Today, we’re talking with Elektra Vrachas of the Sub-Committee on Building Codes and Regulation (SCOBCAR).
1. Who are you?
I am Elektra Vrachas, a member of the Ontario Association of Architects and the Building Code Commission, as well as a volunteer on SCOBCAR. I’m a University of Toronto alumna with over 25 years of architectural experience and expertise in all aspects of the design and construction industry.
Building codes and regulations have become my favourite subject matter over the course of my career. I have spent the last 15 years focusing on studying, developing and applying my building code skills through various ways—reviewing architectural drawings for code and accessibility compliance, auditing existing buildings for compliance with applicable codes and standards and addressing and resolving code-related issues by liaising with the authorities having jurisdiction. I have extensive experience with various provincial building codes, regulations and standards, including the Ontario Fire Code and National Fire Code, and a keen understanding of the building code and current trends in the construction industry.
2. Why did you decide to join the SCOBCAR?
I decided to join SCOBCAR six years ago because I wanted to support the Association by serving on this committee whose subject matter had become my passion. Timing also played a big role in my decision. At that time, I felt I had acquired enough experience and was ready to share my knowledge to make an effective contribution.  
I wanted to meet other like-minded professionals who shared a common interest on codes and regulations. I saw it as an opportunity to enrich my knowledge through collaboration. I also wanted to support SCOBCAR’s key objective: “to move the profession back into a leadership role in development and implementation by government of codes, regulations affecting building design and construction.” I wanted to be part of a voice that represents the OAA’s professional members.
3. What kind of things do you do as a SCOBCAR member?
We gather as a committee to review, discuss and deliberate the code change proposals whenever the codes (Ontario Building Code, National Building Code of Canada, Ontario Fire Code, National Fire Code) are proposed to be amended, and we provide stakeholder feedback to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Buildings and Development Branch (MMAH) or to the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC). 
4. What are the meetings like?
We meet in a boardroom at the OAA. The meetings are led by the Chair and are conducted in a formal manner. The committee’s executive secretary provides the administrative support by recording our business and taking care of all correspondence.
We diligently analyze the proposed regulation, engage in discussion and respectfully listen to each other’s views. We conclude our deliberation through consensus before adjourning the meeting. A meeting can last from half a day to a whole day. Sometimes, depending on the extent of the code proposal changes, we may have to reconvene two or three more times to complete our task.
5. Why should someone join the group?
Volunteers are vital to the work of the OAA and the success of its committees. I encourage you to join SCOBCAR if you have a keen interest and are experienced in this subject matter, especially if you desire to participate in a consultation process designed to generate input from a broad range of stakeholders. Our feedback on these potential updates and changes to current code requirements will help shape regulations that affect our building design and construction!

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