Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SPUR Forum: Existing Buildings and Disaster Resilience

Your BOMA advocacy team attended today's SPUR forum: Existing Buildings and Disaster Resilience where David Bonowitz, Structural Engineer and one of the primary authors of SPUR's article The Resilient City Part I: Before The Disaster, What We Need To Do Now To Recover Quickly From A Major Earthquake, presented the findings of his research on existing buildings and 'resilience'. The article can be found here.

Mr. Bonowitz discussed San Francisco's seismic resilience--the ability for the City to bounce back after an earthquake. Indeed, the types of buildings that are most vulnerable in an earthquake are:
  • Tilt-ups
  • Unbraced cripple walls
  • Hillside houses
  • House over garage
  • Unreinforced masonry buildings
  • Parking garages
  • Pre-Northridge earthquake steel frame
  • Non-ductile (pre-1980) concrete frames
  • Soft-story woodframe

There are also non-structural risks (i.e., pieces of a building):

  • Water tanks
  • Chimneys
  • etc.

And lastly, contents risk (not in the building code).

So what is the City's priority for resilience? Where do we start?

Traditional approaches to resilence, at the low-end of the priority ladder, were the killer buildings (unreinforced masonry buildings), and at the high-end, essential facilities (hospitals, etc.). What about the mid-range? That is, what about combining occupancy and vulnerability?

The City's priority for resilience depends on building's stock and occupancy.

Recommendations on where to start:

  • Soft-story mulit-unit buildings
  • Shelters (e.g., schools used for shelter)
  • Recovery phase services (private social services and medical services)
  • Non-ductile concrete buildings
  • Gas lines and equipment (bracing them/installing shut-off valves)
  • Unreinforced masonry buildings

Please refer to the SPUR article for the details.

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