Arup, an international engineering consulting firm with offices throughout the U.S. and the world, now offers earthquake risk reduction services for commercial properties. While building codes in the United States require minimum standards which ensure life safety of building occupants, it accepts considerable and possibly irreparable damage to the structure and non-structural components and contents in large earthquakes.
To help reduce earthquake risk for buildings, Arup provides damage mitigation through advanced “beyond code” techniques which can achieve significant monetary savings and other life cycle cost benefits. Arup can also navigate through the insurance implications.
“In general, people expect that the buildings they live and work in are disaster proof because of building codes but that is simply not the case,” says Ibbi Almufti of Arup. “We expect many buildings, even those designed to the most current codes, to suffer damage that would also lead to costly business interruption.”
When addressing the earthquake risk for a building, Arup first establishes the risk to the facility by quantifying the intensity of earthquake ground motions expected to occur at the site within the lifetime of the building and the vulnerability of the structure and contents to this hazard. This provides the building owner and facility manager a snapshot of the expected damage and losses.
Arup then works with the building owner and facility manager to establish enhanced seismic performance objectives and retrofit options which achieve these objectives. Advanced computer simulations which can predict the seismic behavior of the building, may be employed to justify the proposed retrofit options. The team then works with the organization’s risk manager and property insurance broker to make sure the organization’s insurance programs reflect these advances.
“Making existing buildings more resilient to earthquakes not only provides peace of mind to owners, facility managers, and occupants, but also results in a reduction in an organization’s long-term cost-of-risk”, says Andy Thompson, leader of Arup Americas risk consulting practice.