Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Double jeopardy: Building codes may underestimate risks due to multiple hazards

14.09.2011
As large parts of the nation recover from nature's one-two punch—an earthquake followed by Hurricane Irene—building researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) warn that a double whammy of seismic and wind hazards can increase the risk of structural damage to as much as twice the level implied in building codes.

This is because current codes consider natural hazards individually, explains NIST's Dat Duthinh, a research structural engineer. So, if earthquakes rank as the top threat in a particular area, local codes require buildings to withstand a specified seismic load. In contrast, if hurricanes or tornadoes are the chief hazard, homes and buildings must be designed to resist loads up to an established maximum wind speed.


This wind zone map shows how the frequency and strength of extreme windstorms vary across the United States. Wind speeds in Zone IV (red), where the risk of extreme windstorms is greatest, can be as high as 250 miles per hour. Credit: Federal Emergency Management Agency

In a timely article published in the Journal of Structural Engineering,* Duthinh, NIST Fellow Emil Simiu and Chiara Crosti (now at the University of Rome) challenge this compartmentalized approach. They show that in areas prone to both seismic and wind hazards, such as South Carolina, the risk that design limits will be exceeded can be as much as twice the risk in regions where only one hazard occurs, even accounting for the fact that these multiple hazards almost never occur simultaneously. As a consequence, buildings designed to meet code requirements in these double-jeopardy locations "do not necessarily achieve the level of safety implied," the researchers write.

Simiu explains by analogy: a motorcycle racer who takes on a second job as a high-wire performer. "By adding this new occupation, the racer increases his risk of injury, even though the timing and nature of the injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident or in a high-wire mishap may differ," he says. "Understandably, an insurer would raise the premium on a personal injury policy to account for the higher level of risk."

The researchers developed a method to assess risks due to wind and earthquakes using a common metric of structural resistance. With a consistent measure (the maximum lateral deflection), the combined risk of failure can be compared to the risk that design limits will be exceeded in regions vulnerable to only one of the hazards, the basis for safety requirements specified in current building codes.

They demonstrate their approach on three different configurations of a 10-story steel-frame building. One of the configurations used so-called reduced beam sections (RBS) to connect girders to columns. RBS technology was developed after California's Northridge earthquake in 1994, which resulted in significant structural damage in new and old buildings due to unanticipated brittle fractures in frame connections. Shaped like a dog bone, tapered RBS connections made the frames more ductile—better able to deflect without breaking.

In this case study, the researchers found that RBS connections do not decrease the risk that a steel-frame building will exceed its design limit when used in a region exposed to high winds or a region exposed to high winds and earthquakes. Consequently, the risk of failure doubled under dual-hazard conditions, when those conditions are of similar severity. However, they note that RBS connections can decrease the risk that limits associated with seismic design will be exceeded during the structure's life.

The researchers are continuing to extend their methodology and are proposing modifications to building codes.

* C. Crosti, D. Duthinh and E. Simiu. Risk consistency and synergy in multi-hazard design. ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering. Vol. 3, No. 8, Aug. 2011.

Mark Bello | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale
18.01.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

nachricht Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation
18.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Algorithmen und Wissenschaftliches Rechnen SCAI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>