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Building Science - Earthquake Publications

It is important that communities at risk of earthquakes and tsunamis take proper safety precautions to reduce the risk of life and property when one of these hazards strike. FEMA Building Science provides publications and guidance so that communities can become stronger and better able to withstand the harsh effects of these seismic events. Incorporating FEMA guidance into the development of new and existing buildings will create more resilient buildings that will keep building occupants safe, as well as result in less damages following one of these events.

2009 NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions: Design Examples (FEMA P-751)

This publication provides a series of design examples using the 2009 edition of the NEHRP Recommended Provisions (FEMA P-750) for different types of construction materials and building configurations. These design examples demonstrate the design procedures used in the NEHRP Recommended Provisions, which serve as the basis for the nation's building codes, and make an excellent instructional tool.

Guidelines for Design of Structures for Vertical Evacuation from Tsunamis (FEMA P 646)

Vertical evacuation is a programmatic issue central to the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, driven by the fact that there are coastal communities along the West Coast of the United States that are vulnerable to tsunamis that could be generated within minutes of an earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Vertical evacuation structures provide a means to create areas of refuge for communities in which evacuation out of the inundation zone is not feasible. This guidance document includes the following information to assist in the planning and design of tsunami vertical evacuation structures: general information on the tsunami hazard and its history; guidance on determining the tsunami hazard, including tsunami depth and velocity; different options for tsunami vertical evacuation structures; guidance on siting, spacing, sizing, and elevation considerations; determining tsunami and earthquake loads and related structural design criteria; and structural design concepts and other considerations.

Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Multi-Unit Wood-Frame Buildings With Weak First Stories (FEMA-P-807)

Multi-unit wood-frame buildings with a weak first story represent a significant risk in highly seismic regions of the United States because of their high potential for collapse. This collapse potential is due primarily to their soft or weak first-story walls, which have often been weakened by large numbers of openings such as garages or store front windows. FEMA P-807 addresses seismic retrofitting of weak-story wood-frame buildings in seismically active regions of the United States, with a focus on multi-family, multi-story buildings with weak first stories, and apartment buildings with tuck-under parking. These seismic retrofitting guidelines are the first to focus solely on the weak first story and to provide just enough additional strength to protect the first floor from collapse but not so much as to drive earthquake forces into the upper stories, placing them at risk of collapse. They are also the first to take into account the strength provided by existing non-structural walls, making seismic retrofitting more affordable. An electronic tool was developed as part of the project to help apply the rules and perform the calculations described in the report. The Weak Story Tool (WST) is available for download as a zip file. Note that the report contains all the data, formulas, and procedural background needed to apply the method without using the WST.

Fiscal Year 2011 Earthquake Consortia (CUSEC, WSSPC, and NESEC) Guidance and Application Kit

FEMA proposes to enter into a Cooperative Agreement for an estimated $850,000 with three Earthquake Consortia for the purposes of supporting nonprofit organizations which: deliver education and training to community and State officials; develop seismic policies and share information to promote programs intended to reduce earthquake-related losses; and reduce the loss of life, injuries, property losses, and social and economic disruption that results from all hazards. Completed applications must be submitted no later than 11:59 PM Eastern, August 17, 2011.

Fiscal Year 2011 Earthquake Technology Transfer (EERI) Guidance and Application Kit

FEMA proposes to enter into a Cooperative Agreement for an estimated $355,000 with one (1) national, non-profit technical earthquake society (architects, engineers, planners, public officials, social scientists) composed of a membership from practicing professionals, educators, government officials, and building code regulators. Completed applications must be submitted no later than 11:59 PM Eastern, September 8, 2011.

Quantification of Building Seismic Performance Factors: Component Equivalency Methodology (FEMA-P-795)

This publication builds upon an earlier FEMA publication, FEMA P-695 - Quantification of Building Seismic Performance Factors (FEMA, 2009b). While the methodology contained in FEMA P-695 provides a means to evaluate complete seismic-force-resisting systems proposed for adoption into building codes, a component-based methodology was needed to reliably evaluate structural elements, connections, or subassemblies proposed as substitutes for equivalent components in established seismic-force-resisting systems. The Component Equivalency Methodology presented in this document fills this need by maintaining consistency with the probabilistic, system-based collapse assessment concepts of FEMA P-695 while providing simple procedures for comparing the tested performance of different components. It is intended to be of assistance to organizations, such as the International Code Council Evaluation Service, who need to compare the seismic performance of alternate components to those contained in established seismic force resisting system.

Earthquake-Resistant Design Concepts: An Introduction to the NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures (FEMA-P-749)

One of the goals of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) is to encourage design and construction practices that address the earthquake hazard and minimize the resulting risk to life and property. The publication of FEMA P-749, a companion guide to the 2009 edition of the NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures (FEMA P-750), reaffirms FEMA’s ongoing commitment to achieving this goal. Understanding the basis for the seismic regulations in the nation’s building codes and standards is important to those outside the technical community including elected officials, decision-makers in the insurance and financial communities, and individual building or business owners and other concerned citizens. This document is intended to provide these interested individuals with a readily understandable explanation of the intent and requirements of seismic design in general and the Provisions in particular.

Earthquake Mitigation for Hospitals (FEMA-P-767)

This PowerPoint presentation is based on FEMA 396, Incremental Seismic Rehabilitation of Hospital Buildings: Providing Protection to People and Buildings. Recognizing that seismic mitigation can be expensive and disruptive, the purpose of this workshop is to introduce you to an innovative approach to seismic mitigation called “incremental seismic rehabilitation.” The approach essentially identifies systematic “opportunities” to conduct mitigation activities. Students are introduced to earthquake hazards in health care settings and learn about methods that can be used to analyze and reduce risks of damage in hospitals and other medical buildings. By implementing sound, cost-effective mitigation measures, health care facilities can reduce or eliminate seismic risks and ensure that, in the event of an earthquake, they can remain in operation to serve their communities.

Seismic Rehabilitation Training For One and Two Family Dwellings (FEMA P-593)

Seismic Rehabilitation Training for One- and Two-Family Wood-Frame Dwellings, FEMA P-593, promotes seismic rehabilitation of one- and two-family dwellings, in order to reduce earthquake damage losses and increase dwelling habitability following moderate to major earthquakes. This is done by introducing the trainee to the effect of earthquakes on wood-frame dwellings, identifying common seismic vulnerabilities, and identifying rehabilitation approaches and available guidelines.

Unreinforced Masonry Buildings and Earthquakes: Developing Successful Risk Reduction Programs (FEMA-P-774)

This publication provides guidance on reducing the risks faced by those who own, occupy, or use unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings in seismically active areas. Among structures currently in use in U.S. communities, URM buildings are typically the most vulnerable to earthquake damage and the type of construction that is most commonly singled out for voluntary and mandatory seismic risk reduction programs. The publication includes illustrations and photographs of URM buildings and describes their seismic vulnerabilities. It discusses policy and regulatory issues that often must be considered in efforts to reduce URM risks, such as retrofit costs, the economic viability of older buildings, numbers of occupants and types of use, and historic or architectural values. Rather than prescribing a rigid sequence of steps for URM risk reduction, FEMA P-774 documents a wide variety of successful approaches that have been developed across the United States.

Effects of Strength and Stiffness Degradation on Seismic Response

This document is a follow-on publication to Improvement of Nonlinear Static Seismic Analysis Procedures (FEMA 440). It provides information that will improve nonlinear analysis for cyclic response, considering cyclic and in-cycle degradation of strength and stiffness. Recent work has demonstrated that it is important to be able to differentiate between cyclic and in-cycle degradation in order to more accurately model degrading behavior, while current practice only recognizes cyclic degradation, or does not distinguish between the two. The material contained within this publication is expected to improve nonlinear modeling of structural systems, and ultimately make the seismic retrofit of existing hazardous buildings more cost-effective.

Quantification of Building Seismic Performance Factors (FEMA-P-695)

This publication presents a recommended methodology for reliably quantifying building system performance and response parameters for use in seismic design. The parameters or “seismic performance factors” addressed include the response modification coefficient (R factor), system overstrength factor, and deflection amplification factor. The methodology is a refinement of an earlier preliminary methodology, and is based on a review of relevant research on nonlinear response and collapse simulation, benchmarking studies of selected structural systems, feedback from an expanded group of experts and potential users, and evaluations of additional structural systems conducted to verify the technical soundness and applicability of the approach. This draft document has been released for public comment and interim use.

Engineering Guideline for Incremental Seismic Rehabilitation

This publication serves as a technical resource for design professionals on the topic of incremental seismic rehabilitation and strategies for implementing this approach in practice. The publication includes discussions on several topics including building maintenance, capital improvement and decision-making processes as a basis for communicating with decision-makers on seismic rehabilitation opportunities. In addition, other resource documents for seismic rehabilitation are reviewed. FEMA P-420 is a companion manual to the Incremental Seismic Rehabilitation Publications (FEMA 395-400) targeted to engineers and design professionals.

Interim Testing Protocols for Determining the Seismic Performance Characteristics of Structural and Nonstructural Components

This publication provides methodologies to measure the seismic performance of buildings’ structural or nonstructural components in a consistent and comparable manner. It describes two laboratory testing protocols that determine fragility functions for various building systems and components. The first protocol, Quasi-Static Cyclic Testing of Structural and Nonstructural Components and Systems, can be used to test elements whose behavior is sensitive to the relative motion of several floors or vertical connections within a building. The second protocol, Shake Table Testing of Structural and Nonstructural Components and Systems, is designed for testing elements that are sensitive to the dynamic effects of motion imparted at a single point of attachment. Although these protocols are intended as interim methods that will be finalized over time as they are used and evaluated by researchers nationwide, they are nevertheless a significant step forward in the development of performance-based seismic design.

Designing for Earthquakes: A Manual for Architects

Currently no single publication exists that provides up-to-date information necessary to architects, presented in a form that is attractive, readable, and intelligible to a non-specialist audience. This revised publication will fill that gap. The present publication consists of a series of chapters that provide the foundation for an understanding of seismic design, each authored by an expert in the field. The authors were given freedom to decide the scope of their chapters; and thus this publication represents expert opinion rather than consensus. Designing for Earthquakes: a Manual for Architects is intended to explain the principles of seismic design for those without a technical background in engineering and seismology. The primary intended audience is that of architects and includes practicing architects, architectural students, and faculty in architectural schools who teach structures and seismic design.

Next-Generation Performance-Based Seismic Design Guidelines: Program Plan for New and Existing Buildings

This publication is a step-by-step program plan for the current FEMA project with the Applied Technology Council to develop next-generation performance-based seismic design procedures and guidelines for structural and nonstructural components in new and existing buildings. This plan offers a background on current code design procedures, introduces performance-based seismic design concepts, identifies improvements needed in current seismic design practice, and outlines the tasks and projected costs for a two-phase program to develop next-generation performance-based seismic design procedures and guidelines.

NEHRP Recommended Provisions: Design Examples (FEMA-P-451)

This publication provides a series of design examples using the 2003 edition of the NEHRP Recommended Provisions (FEMA 450) for different types of construction materials and building configurations. These design examples demonstrate the design procedures used in the NEHRP Recommended Provisions, which serve as the basis for the nation’s building codes, and make an excellent training tool. Instructional materials (FEMA 451B) are also available for use with this publication.

FEMA 232, Homebuilders' Guide to Earthquake-Resistant Design and Construction (2006)

This guide replaces the Home Builder's Guide to Seismic Resistant Construction and all earlier versions of FEMA 232. It presents seismic design and construction guidance for one- and two-family light frame residential structures that can be utilized by homebuilders, homeowners, and other non-engineers, and provides supplemental information to the 2003 edition of the International Residential Code. Includes background information on the principles of seismic resistance and how earthquake forces impact conventional residential construction and more detailed information on architectural considerations. 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 home builders are included. The guide also presents a series of "above code recommendations" and low cost measures that would increase the performance of the building and help keep it functional after an earthquake.

Earthquake Preparedness: What Every Child Care Provider Needs to Know (FEMA-P-240)

This publication features practical and low-cost techniques to make child care facilities safer in the event of an earthquake, whether they are based in a home or a larger facility. The publication offers tips for conducting earthquake drills and includes a checklist of supplies to keep on hand in an emergency kit.

Seismic Considerations for Steel Storage Racks Located in Areas Accessible to the Public (FEMA-P-460)

This report highlights issues for consideration in the seismic design, installation, ongoing inspection, maintenance, and use of steel single selective pallet storage racks located in areas of retail warehouse stores and other facilities accessible to the general public. Included are a review of the performance of storage racks in past earthquakes; a history of the development of codes and standards used for storage rack design and current storage rack design practices; guidance on recommended performance goals and design requirements for storage racks; guidelines for implementation/responsibilities associated with the specification, procurement, and installation of pallet storage racks; suggested guidance for securing contents; recommendations for operations and use; suggested guidance for quality assurance programs; a discussion of current and past storage rack research and testing; suggestions for post-earthquake inspections; and proposed modifications to seismic design provisions and standards for racks.

Last updated February 22, 2021