Building a Volunteer Engineering Network: the Experience of the Concrete Coalition

July 30, 2010
Publication: Proceedings of the 9th US National and 10th Canadian Conference on Earthquake Engineering|Toronto, Ontario n 1609
Author(s): David McCormick C.D. Comartin M. Greene D. Bonowitz

The Concrete Coalition is a network of individuals, governments, institutions, and agencies with a shared interest in assessing the risk associated with dangerous non-ductile concrete buildings and developing strategies for fixing them. It is a program of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Center (PEER) at UC Berkeley, the Applied Technology Council and their partners, including the Structural Engineering Association of California, The American Concrete Institute, BOMA of Greater Los Angeles and the U.S. Geological Survey. With funding from the California Emergency Management Agency, the Concrete Coalition is helping the state of California understand the dimensions of the problem posed by these buildings. How many are there? What kinds of strategies might be appropriate to address this problem? In tandem with the work of the Coalition, PEER is identifying the most serious deficiencies associated with older concrete buildings, to guide the discussion about what can be done about the most dangerous buildings in this class. This paper will discuss the network and its efforts to accurately estimate how many of these buildings exist in California. Using volunteer engineers in southern northern and northern southern California, the Concrete Coalition project has developed a network where volunteers are encouraged to use various combinations of estimation techniques to come up with best estimates. In addition to volunteers providing expert judgment estimates, the Concrete Coalition is also gathering and incorporating statewide databases of buildings that will be combined with the city estimates to provide a better picture of the size and complexity of the problem associated with these older concrete buildings. Working with the individual jurisdictions, discussing the variety of data collection techniques, recruiting and working with the volunteers, and assembling the numbers will all be explored in this paper.