As I recalled in my previous blog, when in 1996 I was first tasked with collating the guidance on offer to architects and MEP design professionals for the seismic environment, I thought that much of the literature had more in common with Greek mythology than scientific reason. In fact, based upon some of the inquiries I handle today, some myths remain pervasive and must be very profitable for someone.
For me the fog created by the mythology of conventional wisdom began to lift when a work associate and I made contact with the core group in the earthquake engineering field responsible of for earthquake code development. As the global experts outlined the intent of seismic design fundamentals the fog dissipated rapidly. As I’ve also spoken about though, translating this highly specialized subject in a way that aids implementation for today’s building design and MEP professionals is something that requires modern tools.
Over the last two decades, a large body of non-government participants has distilled the best of the best in global earthquake engineering and science to provide an ever-increasing set of reference documents and tools to simplify the task of integrating code compliant seismic mitigation into commercial building designs. At a minimum the following publications are recommended for the design professionals bookshelf and it is humbling to confess that I have had the opportunity to participate in a number of them during my career:
From the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Publications Website:
- FEMA 454 Designing for Earthquakes, A Manual for Architects
- FEMA P-749 Earthquake-Resistant Design Concepts
- FEMA E-74 Reducing the Risks of Nonstructural Earthquake Damage – A Practical Guide (over 800 pages of examples of seismic restraint detailing concepts for a wide range of building nonstructural components and real world earthquake failure modes)
- FEMA P-1024 Nonstructural Performance Napa Earthquakes (lots of real world examples of how nonstructural components performed during the Napa earthquake)
- FEMA P-1050-1 & -2 NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures
- FEMA P-58 Volumes 1 & 2 Seismic Performance Assessment of Buildings (foundation for the next generation of performance based earthquake engineering)
- FEMA P-1020 Emergency Power Systems for Critical Facilities: A Best Practices Approach to Improving Reliability (owners overview of how to achieve beyond code minimum performance for essential power systems in critical facilities for all natural hazards)
- FEMA P-646 Guidelines for Design of Structures for Vertical Evacuation from Tsunamis (based on lessons learned from the destructive and deadly tsunamis since 2000)
- FEMA P-736 Catalog of FEMA Earthquake Resources
Building Code Referenced Standards:
- ASCE/SEI 7-10 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures (third printing); note: the third printing introduced a greatly expanded commentary for the prescriptive provisions to better explain intent – a must read for all design professionals.
ISO 13033:2013 Bases for design of structures – Loads, forces and other actions – Seismic actions on nonstructural components for building applications (top level guidance document that member countries use as a foundation in the development of country specific national building codes)
- Earthquake Protection of Building Equipment and Systems, Bridging the Implementation Gap, by: Jeffrey A Gatscher, Gary L McGavin, and Philip J Caldwell; ASCE Publications 2012 (general overview for the MEP building design professional on the basics of earthquake equipment qualification for the non-earthquake engineer)
- Building Configuration Seismic Design, by: Christopher Arnold, Robert Reitherman; Wiley Interscience 1982
Earthquakes 101, Maps, Near Real Time Reports:
The above listing is just a hint of the wealth of resource material that is in the public domain for those that want to establish their seismic design competencies on the foundation concepts and best practices from the global experts in earthquake mitigation. If you have a question that can’t be found in one of these references or their associated citations, it’s most likely an indication of a future research gap need – leave a note for me in the comments and we can start a dialog! Finally, if you hear someone refer to one of the FEMA documents as “that FEMA code” take a picture – you may have a photo of a flying horse! You can also register for our dedicated Consulting Engineer portal site to access additional tools, resources and product information.