The earthquake and structural engineering communities have made major progress over the past three decades to develop and deploy guidelines for the design of new buildings and the retrofit of existing buildings. However one elusive goal has been communicating expected earthquake performance to the general public. At two recent National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) workshops (2008 and 2012) on meeting the challenges of existing buildings, one of the major recommendations was the development of a rating system that communicates risk in consistent, reliable terms understandable to tenants, owners and other stakeholders. Such a rating system would inform the public about the condition of the buildings they live and work in and would bring market forces to bear on the seismic rehabilitation of hazardous buildings.
Over the past six years, the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC) Building Ratings Subcommittee has been developing an Earthquake Performance Rating System. In 2011 FEMA funded an ATC organized stakeholder’s workshop to gather input on implementation of the SEAONC system. Two major workshop recommendations were the long term integrity of the system and the need for the system to be implemented by a non-profit private sector entity. As a consequence the US Resiliency Council® (USRC) was formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to facilitate the use of technical standards and systems such as those developed by SEAONC and ARUP as a basis for owners, lenders, communities and other stakeholders to evaluate and communicate building resilience objectively and consistently. A long term goal of the USRC will be to consider a broad range of perils beyond earthquakes (e.g. hurricane, flood, blast).
The USRC is modeled after the US Green Buildings Council (USGBC®), which has successfully, although not overnight, transformed the issue of environmental sustainability into one that has been broadly established within the public consciousness. The USGBC has succeeded in making environmental sustainability a standard consideration within the building industry.
The USRC will award Earthquake Resilience Ratings, much like the US Green Building Council® issues LEED® ratings. The USRC will establish an accreditation program for professional engineers who wish to employ the rating system. The USRC will also include peer review and validation of ratings. These features of the USRC rating process are a direct response to stakeholders’ perceived need to ensure integrity of the system.
A key principle of the USRC is that it will not develop technical standards for assessing risk. Rather, the USRC’s board and technical advisory committees will identify existing or developing technical standards (e.g. SEAONC and ARUP systems) that can be used to generate a rating.
At this time the USRC is looking for firms and/or individuals to become Founding Members of the organization. These member companies and individuals will become leaders in supporting and helping to guide the mission and goals of the USRC. If you have such an interest please contact Ron Mayes (email@example.com; 415-343-3031) for further details.