In some of the worst U.S. earthquake zones, an alarming number of older, low-rise concrete buildings have not been retrofitted for earthquake safety. These two-story to five-story structures may meet the building-code standards of their day, but that time has long passed.
Today’s building codes reflect forward-thinking earthquake engineering research and incorporate structural elements that allow concrete buildings to bend and stretch in the event of an earthquake. Older designs lack those details. As a result, these older buildings have deficient lateral flexibility and can be brittle, thus making them vulnerable to damage during earthquakes.
Building owners assume plenty of risks when it comes to commercial buildings, and owners of non-ductile concrete buildings may be required to retrofit by city ordinances. For example, in 2015, the city of Los Angeles mandated that existing buildings with reinforced concrete construction that had a construction permit application dating before January 1977 must adhere to a timeline of completed retrofitting or demolition within 25 years. It was estimated that about 1,500 buildings were covered by the scope of that ordinance alone.
As a property owner, the risks of a seismic event could include legal liability as well as the costs, effort and time to make proper repairs. Optimum Seismic’s non-ductile concrete retrofit programs can help get these types of buildings up to code and protect owners from future legal and financial vulnerability. Retrofitting concrete buildings can also reduce insurance and liability costs, as well as improve the value and marketability of the property.