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New FEMA Publication Provides Overview of Earthquake-Resistant Design Concepts

Monday, May 16, 2011  
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One of the key ways a community protects itself from potential earthquake disasters is by adopting and enforcing a building code with appropriate seismic design and construction standards.  The seismic requirements in U.S. model building codes and standards are updated through the volunteer efforts of design professionals and construction industry representatives under a process sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and administered by the National Institute of Building Sciences Building Seismic Safety Council (BSSC).  At regular intervals, the BSSC develops and FEMA publishes the NEHRP (National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program) Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures (referred to in this publication as the NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions or simply the Provisions).  The Provisions serves as a resource used by the codes and standards development organizations as they formulate sound seismic-resistant design and construction requirements.  The Provisions also provides design professionals, building officials, and educators with in-depth commentary on the intent and preferred application of the seismic regulations. 

The 2009 edition of the Provisions (FEMA P-750) and the building codes and consensus standards based on its recommendations are, of necessity, highly technical documents intended primarily for use by design professionals and others who have specialized technical training.  Because of this technical focus, these documents are not clearly understandable to those not involved in design and construction.  Nevertheless, understanding the basis for the seismic regulations contained in the nation’s building codes and standards is important to many people outside this technical community including elected officials, decision-makers in the insurance and financial communities, and individual business owners and other citizens.  This introduction to the NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions is intended to provide these interested individuals with a readily understandable explanation of the intent of earthquake-resistant design and requirements of the Provisions.

Chapter 1 explains the history and purpose of building regulation in the United States, including the process used to develop and adopt the nation’s building codes and the seismic requirements in these codes.  Chapter 2 is an overview of the performance intent of the Provisions.  Among the topics addressed are the national seismic hazard maps developed by the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS); the seismic design maps adopted by the Provisions as a basis for seismic design; and seismic risk, which is a function of both the probability that a community will experience intense earthquake ground shaking and the probability that building construction will suffer significant damage because of this ground motion.  Chapter 3 identifies the design and construction features of buildings and other structures that are important to good seismic performance.  Chapter 4 describes the various types of structures and nonstructural components addressed by the Provisions.  Chapter 5 is an overview of the design procedures contained in the Provisions.  Chapter 6 addresses how the practice of earthquake-resistant design is likely to evolve in the future.  A glossary of key technical terms, lists of notations and acronyms used in this report, and a selected bibliography identifying references that may be of interest to some readers complete this report.

Download Earthquake-Resistant Design Concepts; An Introduction to the NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures.

Order printed copies by calling FEMA Publications (800-480-2520).


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