Calls for seismically resilient builds

New Zealanders want to be back in their homes and workspaces soon after an earthquake event, according to new Resilient Buildings Project research.

The research revealed that Kiwis have higher expectations of their buildings in earthquake events than the structures simply providing life and survival. “New Zealanders don’t just want to escape a major earthquake with their lives,” explains research team member Helen Ferner from the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineers (NZSEE). “They want to be back living and working in those buildings soon after an earthquake.”

NZSEE and the EQC Toka Tu Ake have published the results of the three-year Resilient Buildings Project, which captures the expectations New Zealanders have of their buildings. It provides a policy framework tool to support engineers and designers to align with these expectations.

“Our approach to the design of new building continues to evolve, and needs always to reflect society’s desires and tolerance to the risk of damage, while also considering the costs of mitigation,” Helen says.

Unprecedented seismic activity in New Zealand showed the shortcomings in seismic performance in buildings, which resulted in the Christchurch CBD being cordoned off for two years, and thousands of buildings being demolished and rebuilt. “Those events highlighted that as well as the direct property costs, there was also significant indirect costs from social distress and economic disruption,” says Helen.

“This framework will support people to create more resilient buildings without blowing the budget, while also meeting people’s expectations.”

EQC chief resilience and research officer Dr Jo Horrocks says one of the key objectives of the EQC is to promote stronger homes on better land. “From what New Zealanders have experienced in the past decade, more focus on preventing or minimising seismic damage to buildings makes good economic and social sense,” Dr Horrocks says.

Ferner says a major American study quantified major benefit from greater building resilience by reducing casualties and damage, but also minimising the loss of function, social distress, and economic disruption to help the speed of recovery.

The same research also found that the cost of increasing seismic resilience in new buildings was very low, in most cases less than 1% of the construction cost, by using new innovations, but also by avoiding fragile designs and focusing on simpler, regular building designs.

The Resilient Buildings Research discovered that New Zealanders have particularly high expectations of hospitals, marae, aged care facilities, and community centres.

Previous Post

The cold sore virus

Next Post

Take a walk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *