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Earthquake Building Codes

The following documents provide information concerning the earthquake-resistant provisions of the most recent editions of the International Building Code, International Exiting Building Code, and International Residential Code, and their referenced standards [i.e., American Society of Civil Engineers / Structural Engineering Institute (ASCE/SEI) 7, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures and ASCE/SEI 41, Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing Buildings].

The International Building Code, International Exiting Building Code, and International Residential Code can be purchased at the International Code Council. ASCE/SEI 7 and ASCE/SEI 41 can be purchased from the ASCE Store.

Short-Period Building Collapse Performance and Recommendations for Improving Seismic Design

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Short-Period Building Collapse Series (ZIP)
FEMA P-2139 | December 2020

Recent analytical studies investigating a wide range of modern seismic-force-resisting systems have predicted collapse rates for short-period buildings that are significantly larger than those observed in earthquakes during the past 50 years. This gap between analytically predicted and historically observed collapse rates in known as the short-period building seismic performance paradox. Additionally, analytically predicted collapse rates for short-period buildings are generally larger than maximum collapse rates used in national model codes and standards to establish seismic design requirements.

The FEMA P-2139 series of reports documents a multi-year investigation of the response behavior and collapse performance of different structural systems to identify causes and develop solutions for the short-period building seismic performance paradox. Studies investigated three structural systems: wood light-frame, special reinforced masonry shear wall, and steel special concentrically braced frame systems. Volume 1 summarizes results, conclusions, and recommendations from the three-system.

Procedures for Developing Multi-Period Response Spectra at Non-Conterminous United States Sites

This study develops methods for constructing multi-period response spectra (MPRS) at all periods and site classes of interest, assuming that only deterministic and probabilistic values of SS and S1, and approximated values of TL from ASCE 7-16, are available for the site of interest. A comparison between derived MPRS and calculated MPRS at sites in the conterminous United States was used to validate the proposed methods and models. With this validation, these method and models can be used to derive multi-period response spectra using only the three currently available ground motion parameters SS, S1, and TL for all non-conterminous United States regions of interest.

Seismic Building Code Provisions for New Buildings to Create Safer Communities

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Seismic Building Codes Provisions

Fact Sheet | October 2020

Earthquakes are some of the most destructive and unpredictable natural phenomena, causing deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage in populated areas. As of 2015, roughly half of all Americans in the conterminous United States are exposed to potentially damaging ground shaking from earthquakes (USGS, 2015). The population exposed to seismic hazard has been steadily growing, leading to a higher potential for losses from seismic events. The estimated earthquake losses per year, known as Annualized Earthquake Losses (AEL), are calculated by FEMA to be $6.1 billion per year in the United States, and 55 metropolitan areas account for 85 percent of the AEL (FEMA, 2017). Review the map in Figure 1 to determine your community’s exposure to seismic hazard.

Earthquake-Resistant Design Concepts

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This document provides a readily understandable explanation of the intent and requirements of the seismic related building codes and standards that are based on the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures (FEMA P-750). Understanding the basis for the earthquake-resistant provisions contained in the building codes and standards is important to many people outside the technical design community. This publication explains the history and purpose of building regulations in the United States, including a summary of the seismic-resistant provisions found in the current building codes and standards. Among the topics addressed are the national seismic hazard maps developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); the seismic design maps incorporated in the building codes and standard, as well as an overview of the seismic design procedures contained in the building codes.

NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Provisions are a knowledge-based resource document intended to translate research results into engineering design practice. The NEHRP Provisions incorporate results and findings from recent research projects, problem-focused studies, and post-earthquake investigation reports conducted by various professional organizations, research institutes, universities, material industries, and the four NEHRP agencies. The 2009 edition (FEMA P-750) is the basis for changes to the seismic-resistant provisions found in ASCE/SEI 7-10 and the 2015 International Building Code and the 2015 NEHRP Provisions edition (FEMA P-1050) is the basis for changes to the seismic-resistant provisions found in ASCE/SEI 7-16 and the 2018 International Building Code.

CodeMasters for Seismic Design

The CodeMaster products provide designers with an easy-to-use desk reference that identifies the seismic provisions in the International Building Code as well as the seismic requirements of ASCE/SEI 7. The CodeMaster is a unique and useful laminated guide for designers to make sure that they incorporate the seismic-resistant provisions of these codes and standards. Subjects addressed include determination of mapped spectral response accelerations; consideration of exceptions to the seismic code requirements; Seismic Design Category determination; consideration of plan and vertical structural irregularities; determination of seismic base shear, redundancy coefficient and seismic load effects; and compliance with drift control requirements. These guides can be purchased from S. K. Ghosh Associates.

2015 Structural/Seismic Design Manuals – Volumes 1-3

The Structural Engineers Association of California has partnered with International Code Council to update its series of Structural/Seismic Design Manuals to the 2015 International Building Code. Each of the three volumes provides a step-by-step approach to applying the structural provisions of the 2015 International Building Code and referenced standards. These manuals can be purchased from the International Code Council.

Homebuilder's Guide to Earthquake-Resistant Design and Construction

This illustrated guide presents background information on the principles of seismic resistance and how earthquake forces impact conventional residential construction and more detailed information on architectural considerations (site selection, foundations and foundation details, floors, shear walls, and roofs). Also included are discussions of masonry and stone elements, examples of typical floor plans for earthquake- resistant one- and two-story homes, excerpts of seismic requirements from building codes, and checklists for homebuilders.

Techniques for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings

This publication documents common seismic rehabilitation or retrofitting techniques used for buildings represented in the set of standard building types presented in seismic publications. It includes a wide variety of techniques that have been developed and used for repair and retrofitting of earthquake-damaged and seismically deficient buildings.

Reducing the Risks of Non-Structural Earthquake Damage

This guide describes the sources of nonstructural earthquake damage and effective methods of reducing potential risks associated with such damage. It assists in identifying potential hazards and provides specific guidance on upgrades. This fourth edition of FEMA 74 has been redesigned for use online and expanded to include more examples that feature photos of actual damage and details illustrating correct mitigation measures.

Last updated December 30, 2020