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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.

FEMA P-2156, The Role of the NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions in the Development of Nationwide Seismic Building Code Regulations: A Thirty-Five-Year Retrospective

In retrospect, the NEHRP Recommended Provisions not only provided many critical stepping stones to form the foundation of modern U.S. seismic-resistant codes and standards, but also helped to explore new ways to advance earthquake science and risk reduction technologies. Over the past thirty-five years, many scientists, researchers, engineers, code and standard experts, material industry experts, and professionals from the NEHRP agencies contributed to the success of the NEHRP Provisions. This report captures the history of the NEHRP Provisions and many great benefits it has introduced.

Seismic Building Codes in the U.S.: A Thirty-Five Year Retrospective of NEHRP Provisions

This brochure is a companion piece to FEMA P-2156.

FEMA P-2090/NIST SP-1254- Recommended Options for Improving the Built Environment for Post-Earthquake Reoccupancy and Functional Recovery Time.

This report provides a set of options in the form of recommendations, tasks, and alternatives for improving the built environment, which have been developed and assessed by the Committee of Experts. It describes community resilience, defines the concepts of reoccupancy and functional recovery, and explains the relationship among these three ideas. It explains why reoccupancy and functional recovery concepts are needed, describes a target performance state, and identifies potential cost and benefits associated with implementing enhanced seismic design.

FEMA P-2091: A Practical Guide to Soil-Structure Interaction

A Practical Guide to Soil-Structure Interaction: Soil-structure interaction (SSI) can make a substantial difference in how buildings behave during an earthquake shaking and how they should be designed. This Guide is intended to help engineers know when incorporating SSI would be important and to provide examples of how to implement different SSI techniques. The primary target audience for the Guide is practicing engineers who are familiar with seismic design using ASCE/SEI 7 but who have little to no experience with SSI, and the focus of the Guide is on techniques that practicing engineers can use.

FEMA P-2139: Short-Period Building Collapse Performance and Recommendations for Improving Seismic Design

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 specific studies and presents a common understanding of the seismic response and collapse performance of short-period buildings. Volume 2 summarizes results, conclusions, and recommendations from the study of wood light-frame systems. Volume 3 summarizes results, conclusions, and recommendations from the study of special reinforced masonry shear wall systems. Volume 4 summarizes results, conclusions, and recommendations from the study of steel special concentrically braced frame systems.

FEMA P-2078 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

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.

Seismic Performance Assessment of Buildings (2 of 3)

The principal product under this combined 10-year work effort was the development of a methodology for seismic performance assessment of individual buildings that properly accounts for uncertainty in our ability to accurately predict response, and communicates performance in ways that better relate to the decision-making needs of stakeholders. This project completed the development of a methodology for seismic performance assessment of individual buildings in December 2018. The final products together describe the resulting methodology, as well as the development of basic building information, response quantities, fragilities, and consequence data used as inputs to the methodology. To allow practical implementation of the methodology, work included the collection of fragility and consequence data for most common structural systems and building occupancies, and the development of an electronic Performance Assessment Calculation Tool (PACT) for performing the probabilistic computations and accumulation of losses.

Seismic Performance Assessment of Buildings (1 of 3)

The principal product under this combined 10-year work effort was the development of a methodology for seismic performance assessment of individual buildings that properly accounts for uncertainty in our ability to accurately predict response, and communicates performance in ways that better relate to the decision-making needs of stakeholders. This project completed the development of a methodology for seismic performance assessment of individual buildings in December 2018. The final products together describe the resulting methodology, as well as the development of basic building information, response quantities, fragilities, and consequence data used as inputs to the methodology. To allow practical implementation of the methodology, work included the collection of fragility and consequence data for most common structural systems and building occupancies, and the development of an electronic Performance Assessment Calculation Tool (PACT) for performing the probabilistic computations and accumulation of losses.

Seismic Performance Assessment of Buildings (3 of 3)

The principal product under this combined 10-year work effort was the development of a methodology for seismic performance assessment of individual buildings that properly accounts for uncertainty in our ability to accurately predict response, and communicates performance in ways that better relate to the decision-making needs of stakeholders. This project completed the development of a methodology for seismic performance assessment of individual buildings in December 2018. The final products together describe the resulting methodology, as well as the development of basic building information, response quantities, fragilities, and consequence data used as inputs to the methodology. To allow practical implementation of the methodology, work included the collection of fragility and consequence data for most common structural systems and building occupancies, and the development of an electronic Performance Assessment Calculation Tool (PACT) for performing the probabilistic computations and accumulation of losses.

National Earthquake Technical Assistance Program (NETAP) Resource Guide for Earthquake Program Managers

FEMA developed the National Earthquake Technical Assistance Program (NETAP) as a mechanism for delivering direct assistance to the public to increase their knowledge and ability to analyze their risk, make a plan, and take actions aimed at reducing their earthquake risk and supporting overall community resilience. NETAP is a program managed by FEMA to rapidly deploy training and technical assistance to organizations and communities. The NETAP Resource Guide for Earthquake Program Managers provides information on how regions, states, and territories can request NETAP assistance.

NETAP Training Flyers

The National Earthquake Technical Assistance Program (NETAP), http://www.fema.gov/national-earthquake-technical-assistance-program, is designed to help state, local, and tribal governments obtain the knowledge, tools, and support that they need to plan and implement effective earthquake mitigation strategies. NETAP customers can customize these flyer templates to announce, recruit, and market available NETAP courses. For more information, visit NETAP Training Courses and Associated Materials, http://www.fema.gov/national-earthquake-technical-assistance-program.

National Earthquake Technical Assistance Program (NETAP) Training Request/Approval Form

The requestor is responsible for local logistical arrangements and associated costs (if any) including the room reservation, audio/visual equipment reservation (projector and screen), recruitment and registration of students, and refreshments (optional). By submitting this NETAP training request form, the requestor is confirming responsibility for local logistical arrangements.

FEMA L-783, Building Science for Disaster-Resistant Communities: Seismic Hazard Publications (2011)

This brochure provides readers with a quick summary of publications that will help them prepare for and mitigate against seismic hazards. The Building Science Branch develops and produces technical guidance and tools focused on fostering a disaster-resistant built environment. Located within FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration’s (FIMA’s) Risk Reduction Division, the Building Science Branch supports the directorate’s mission to reduce risk to life and property by providing state-of-the-art technical hazard mitigation solutions for buildings.

What To Do Before, During, and After an Earthquake Fact Sheet

Recent earthquakes remind us that we live on a restless planet. But there are many important things we can do before, during, and after an earthquake to protect ourselves, our homes, and our families.

FEMA P-1000, Safer, Stronger, Smarter: A Guide to Improving School Natural Hazard Safety (June 2017)

This Guide provides up-to-date, authoritative information and guidance that schools can use to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing natural hazards. It is intended to be used by administrators, facilities managers, emergency managers, emergency planning committees, and teachers and staff at K through 12 schools. It can also be valuable for state officials, district administrators, school boards, teacher union leaders, and others that play a role in providing safe and disaster-resistant schools for all. Parents, caregivers, and students can also use this Guide to learn about ways to advocate for safe schools in their communities.

Hazus® Estimated Annualized Earthquake Losses for the United States

Policies and practices associated with minimization of earthquake impacts in the United States have been shaped by knowledge of the earthquake hazard, which focuses on the location and type of faulting and ground failure, and the distribution of strong ground motion or shaking.

While hazard maps contribute to understanding earthquakes, there is increasing recognition among policy makers, researchers and practitioners of the need to analyze and map the earthquake risk in the United States. As urban development continues in earthquake-prone regions there is growing concern about the exposure of buildings, lifelines (e.g., utilities and transportation systems), and people to the potential effects of destructive earthquakes.

Earthquake risk analysis begins with hazard identification, but goes beyond that to investigate the potential consequences to people and property, including buildings, lifelines, and the environment.

Mitigation Best Practice - Seismic Retrofit Protects Historic Theater

This story is about the historic Dock Street Theater, located in Charleston, South Caroline, It underwent a major retrofit in 2010 that offers significant protection from both seismic and high wind damages.

Protect Yourself During Earthquakes Poster

Do you know what to do, wherever you are, when the earth begins to shake?

The Importance of Building Codes in Earthquake-Prone Communities Fact Sheet

There is an often-repeated saying, “Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do.” Although you can’t control the seismic hazard in the community where you live or work, you can influence the most important factor in saving lives and reducing losses from an earthquake: the adoption and enforcement of up-to-date building codes. Evaluating older buildings and retrofitting structural and non-structural components also are critical steps. To survive and remain resilient, communities should also strengthen their core infrastructure and critical facilities so that these can withstand an earthquake or other disaster and continue to provide essential services.

Last updated February 22, 2021