Washington, D.C. — Representatives from the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) visited the White House to attend The Earthquake Resilience Summit hosted by the Obama Administration. During the Summit, the Administration issued the February 2 Executive Order: Establishing a Federal Earthquake Risk Management Standard. Participants also reported on advancements in earthquake early warning systems and the importance of building codes in setting the foundations for community safety.

On a panel entitled “Building for Earthquake Safety,” International Code Council (ICC) Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, an Institute Sustaining Organization member, mentioned the important role of seismic science in informing codes and standards, and highlighted the work of the Institute’s Building Seismic Safety Council (BSSC).

Under the sponsorship of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), BSSC administers for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) an ongoing consensus-based process of updating and maintaining the NEHRP Recommended Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures. The NEHRP Recommended Provisions and its Commentary embody the state-of-knowledge criteria for design and construction of new buildings subject to earthquake hazards. The new knowledge and technologies contained in this resource document are diffused into the model building codes developed by the ICC and several national standards, including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) ASCE/SEI-7 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures.

The White House hosted the meeting to hear individual views from attendees. At the event, the Administration, together with private and public participants, announced important steps toward a future with greater earthquake safety through next-generation approaches to earthquake-resilient building and earthquake-warning technologies. Speakers illustrated and discussed current and anticipated future capabilities of such systems.

The new Executive Order encourages improving the capability of federal buildings to function after an earthquake, reducing risks to people, lowering post-quake recovery costs and making it easier for communities to recover swiftly. The 2015 NEHRP Provisions, released this past fall, which has been adopted with minimal changes into ASCE 7-16, provides for avoidance earthquake-induced loss of functionality for essential facilities, such as hospitals, fire and police stations, emergency shelters and other buildings that provide essential functions.

The Executive Order also requires that federal agencies responsible for the design and construction of a new building, or an alteration to an existing building, ensure that the building is constructed or altered using the earthquake-resistant design provisions in the most current building codes.

The Institute previously provided assistance to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in developing a methodology to structurally assess and rank its government buildings for updating to meet the model codes or enhanced model codes. This methodology could be enhanced for use by other federal agencies. The Institute remains available to assist the Administration and the federal agencies as needed as they work to establish a federal earthquake risk management standard.

Read the Fact Sheet about the Summit at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/02/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-steps-increase-nations.

Learn more about the February 2 Executive Order: Establishing a Federal Earthquake Risk Management Standard at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/02/executive-order-establishing-federal-earthquake-risk-management-standard