09/01/2005

Conducting Earthquake Evaluations

How vulnerable is your building to seismic hazards?

 

The Design Team
Depending on the impact of the retrofit measures, additional professionals may need to be retained, including an architect, geotechnical (soils) consultant, mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineer, cost estimator, and even an environmental consultant to address such potentially hazardous building materials as asbestos and lead paint. The design team can help identify individuals or firms to assist an owner in submitting construction documents to the building department and selecting contractors to do the actual repairs.

Because of seismic retrofit complexities, it’s often advantageous to retain a general contractor during the design process to help provide cost estimates and to assist the design team with constructability issues. A competitive “hard bid” does not always provide the least construction costs in the end.

As building owners and managers, your building maintenance programs should include natural hazard assessments. Building hazard evaluations should include an assessment by structural engineers of seismic (earthquake) vulnerability and the resulting potential for loss of occupancy.

What Do You Know About Your Building(s)?
You’ll want to know how old the building is, the building’s type of construction, and what changes or alterations have occurred to the facility. The building’s age may be an indicator of potential vulnerabilities. The engineering and construction industry continually learns from actual earthquakes about what works and what doesn’t work to keep a building safe and operational. Local jurisdictions typically amend their building codes every 3 years.

Where Are the Earthquake Faults?
You should investigate the location of large earthquake faults within a 100-mile radius of your building. One source to locate known faults is here. New faults are discovered periodically, so a review of fault locations should be done every few years.

Increasing an Existing Building’s Structural Integrity
Existing buildings can be seismically retrofitted to reduce your facility’s earthquake risk, based upon vulnerabilities identified in an evaluation report. Besides structural considerations, the evaluation report can include architectural, mechanical, and electrical components, which typically incur far more earthquake damage. A plan including retrofit items, their costs, and a schedule can be established to improve a building’s expected earthquake performance.

Building Codes Don’t Mandate Retrofit, Ordinances Do.
Building codes typically don’t mandate seismic retrofit, but state and local jurisdictions may adopt/

issue man­datory ordinances to retrofit existing higher-risk buildings. One example is Un-Re­in­forced Ma­-sonry Buildings (URMs) in high-seismic areas -

some building departments have enacted ordinances that require strengthening URM buildings. Frequently, strengthening is voluntary, but may become mandatory after a nearby earthquake.

Finding Qualified Individuals
Individuals qualified to review the building’s seismic integrity can be found by checking with the Structural Engineers Association in your area, accessible on the Internet. You can also ask your local building official if he/she knows of qualified engineering firms.

Expectations for the Design Professional
Foremost, always select a structural engineer that has design experience with your type of building construction. The structural engineer should be able to identify any building gravity and seismic deficiencies based upon his/her review, and summarize in a verbal or written report. At your request, the engineer can develop drawings outlining the repairs and retrofit measures. The construction documents should be submitted to your local building department for review and approval.

Michael Cochran (MLCSE@aol.com), vice president of Los Angeles-based Brian L. Cochran Associates Inc., and David Cocke (dcocke@structuralfocus.com), president of Gardena, CA-based Structural Focus, are members of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC), Whittier, CA. SEAOSC is a regional association of the Structural Engineers Association of California, Sacramento.

 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

 


 
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