Report cards for buildings: A proposed rating system for earthquake performance

December 30, 2009
Publication: Improving the Seismic Performance of Existing Buildings and Other Structures - Proceedings 2009 ATC and SEI Conference p 593-604
Author(s): Mayes, Ronald L. Stillwell, Kate Bello, Marguerite Bittleston, Mathew Bono, Stephen Bonowitz, David Bravo, Evelyn Hohbach, Doug McCormick, David L. Pursell, Lee Roche, Ann

Abstract: How will my building respond in an earthquake? Will it be safe? Will I be inconvenienced? How long until it is back to normal? How much better would my building be with a seismic upgrade? This paper previews a system under development by the SEAONC Existing Buildings Committee (Building Ratings Subcommittee). Savvy owners and tenants in earthquake country want to know their seismic risk. Although a typical engineering report can provide technical information for a single building, there is an unmet need for qualitative information to compare seismic performance among multiple buildings, and for terminology to support real-world decision making. Like other rating systems customarily used in transactions, such as the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) method of rating office space, SEAONC's Earthquake Performance Rating is proposed to be strictly voluntary, and presented so that its meaning is easily grasped by non-technical personnel, providing a common vocabulary of seismicrisk. The intent is to have a rating system that utilizes many of the existing evaluation methodologies but translates their results into a format that will be easily understood by building owners and the general public. Phase 1 of the project was completed in January 2008. This paper will summarize the Phase 1 results and will include work completed to date on the translation matrices for the various methodologies that are a key part of Phase 2. Feedback from potential users, including conference participants, is essential for delivering a system that is credible, workable, and informative since a key first step is to develop a system that structural engineers can agree upon. If we are successful in this effort within the structural engineering community our next step is to engage the broader building community for their input.