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News: SEAOC News

A message from SEAOC President Joyce Fuss

Thursday, August 22, 2019  

BY JOYCE FUSS, SE, SECB, LEED AP
SEAOC PRESIDENT 2018-2019

In one of my earlier messages, I mentioned the amazing amount of effort and involvement from SEAOC members in initiatives that are of significant importance to our communities and society.  These past several weeks have been no exception.  If anything the flurry of activity continues to increase, with the ICC/CALBO Seismic Roundtable held in Sacramento on July 25th and the ongoing work within the SEAOC Functional Recovery working group.  SEAOC members are also serving on the Project Technical Panel created by the 2018 National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Re-Authorization (see more on that below).  I have enjoyed the privilege of attending the Seismic Roundtable in Sacramento, as well as listening in on some of the working group discussions.  The 2019 SEAOC convention starts next week, with a number of presentations focusing on the topic of resiliency in the face of many types of natural disasters (not the least of which will be earthquakes), but also fires and flooding.
 
Over 20 SEAOC members attended the ICC/CALBO Seismic Round Table, and several were among the presenters for the morning session.  SEAOC is also credited as a supporter. The theme of the meeting was essentially to establish a road map for an approach to achieve Functional Recovery, with a focus on new construction.  The event also sought to gain the perspectives of stakeholders from local enforcement agencies to practicing engineers, from community leaders to state and national agencies, and others in the industry. SEAOC members are working with many of the represented organizations, including ASCE, ATC, BSSC, CBSC, CEA, DSA, EERI, FEMA, ICC, NIST, OSHPD, and the SSC, to name a few. 

Topics and concepts discussed include:

  • Buildings are just a part of the big picture of achieving resilience and sustainable design and construction of the built environment, and the need for community resilience has been clearly illustrated in recent events.
  • Much work is being done by many organizations and it is critical that we collaborate and coordinate to get the work done as well as enhance public understanding and support.
  • Functional Recovery is now being defined for many by time to re-occupancy as much as if not more than the cost savings of mitigation.
  • Re-evaluating how we design structures to withstand seismic events includes considering a serviceability factor for lifetime earthquakes, and could possibly include a lower limit on displacement for design basis magnitude shaking.
  • The 2018 NEHRP re-authorization expands federal inter-agency interaction including FEMA, NIST, USGS mapping, and NSF, and others with the task to develop recommendations and options for critical infrastructure (the really big picture part) and defined recovery time by mid-2020.
  • The NEHRP legislation has led to the creation of a Project Technical Panel (PTP) which is meeting to create a report with recommendations for FR, and a Project Review Panel (PRP) to provide input as well; Stakeholder Workshops will be held across the US in early 2020 and a draft of the report will be available to the public
  • As California is the 5th largest world economy to remain competitive we have to look at the need for a statewide plan for resilience and prepare for the next big earthquake; we have to raise the bar as the cost to our communities and economy of continuing to do what we have been doing will be too high.
  • SEAOC and EERI have been involved in efforts and discussions on the topic of raising structure performance from life safety to livelihood, keeping in mind that this spans multiple disciplines and elements beyond the primary structure.
  • For EERI Functional Recovery is primarily about time, and the overarching goal is community resilience which requires moving beyond life safety.
  • ATC has completed major projects related to resilience, most notably ATC-58/FEMA P-58 which represents the next generation of performance-based design metrics operating at the asset level; future projects include ATC-138 which will look at further developing performance-based design concepts for tools that could be applied to a prescriptive design approach for FR.
  • ASCE 7-16 now includes reliability criteria to be met for the primary structure, and similar requirements for non-structural components will be included in the near future; work on pre-standards and voluntary criteria are under consideration as well.

I encourage all to read more about the Seismic Roundtable at this link to the program (with all the acronyms and definitions).

Here is a link to the ICC news release as well, for those who would like a more in-depth sense of the direction and background behind this nationwide multi-organization Functional Recovery initiative:
https://www.iccsafe.org/about/periodicals-and-newsroom/the-international-code-council-and-california-building-officials-host-important-roundtable-with-leading-seismic-experts/

Here is a link to the morning presentations from the Roundtable (scroll down about a page, below “August 2019”):
https://www.iccsafe.org/advocacy/
 
The SEAOC Functional Recovery (FR) Group has been discussing several topics related to the push towards a more uniform approach and standards, tools, and consensus on the metrics and benefits of a much more resilient design mindset.  See Ryan Kersting’s “snapshot in time” article on these activities which is included in this month’s newsletter.  As this topic is continually evolving, there will be future updates at key milestones in the NEHRP project and SEAOC FR WG work.

One product of the FR Group’s work is the support of a white paper published by EERI in response to the new language in the December 2018 Reauthorization of NEHRP.  The bill calls for FEMA and NIST along with other agencies to convene experts to recommend “options for improving the built environment and critical infrastructure to reflect performance goals stated in terms of post-earthquake re-occupancy and functional recovery time” (42 U.S.C. § 7705(b); 2018 Senate Bill 176). 

You can read the EERI white paper here.

The SEAOC letter of support can be found here.

There will be several informative and timely presentations at the SEAOC convention which starts in a few days, and you won’t want to miss this opportunity to be involved in the discussions and a chance to connect with fellow practitioners and pioneers in our profession.  I hope you will join us.  Next month we will have several updates from the convention, including the SEAOC Excellence in Engineering Awards and inductees into the SEAOC College of Fellows.  Looking forward to talking with many of you at Squaw Creek. Safe travels!