Seismic design tips for MEP engineers
In the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, U.S. engineers need to refresh their knowledge on designing MEP systems in earthquake-prone areas. Despite the incredible force of the March 11 earthquake in Japan, which had a magnitude of 8.9 and was followed by hundreds of aftershocks, most of Japan’s buildings and infrastructure had little structural damage. Most of the structural damage was a result of the tsunami and not the earthquake. However, there was extensive damage to nonstructural components and systems, including building mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems. This is partly due to Japanese building codes, which set tougher standards for seismic design of structures than the United States, but generally do not regulate the seismic design of nonstructural systems and components. Fortunately for U.S. building owners, our codes do require seismic design of nonstructural systems.