BERKELEY, Calif.—A Northern California-based structural engineering firm, in conjunction with the University of California, Berkeley Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, successfully tested the viability of a newly designed, metal shear wall technology to withstand the type of major earthquake expected to occur in the Bay Area. The Charles Pankow Foundation—an organization that supports collaborative research to advance innovation in building design and construction—funded the development and testing of this non-propriety technology.

This new class of metal shear wall has the potential to dramatically lower construction costs of earthquake-resistant, multi-unit housing primarily because it uses inexpensive, off-the shelf components—including shallow metal deck, metal studs, and screws—and can be prefabricated and delivered to the construction jobsite.
In addition, the tests demonstrated that the new shear wall system is strong enough for use in California and other earthquake-prone regions throughout the country and internationally.

"This research will allow structural engineers to design shear walls using corrugated, light-weight steel panels in metal-framed buildings in the same way that they design shear walls using plywood panels in wood-framed buildings," said Tipping Mar President Steve Tipping, who oversaw the development of this new class of metal shear wall. "This will greatly simplify the design of light-gauge, metal-frame buildings."

Researchers at the UC Berkeley Structural Engineering Research Laboratory, under the leadership of Bozidar Stojadinovic, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, estimate that the new panels are up to three times stronger than equivalent plywood panels, and as much as twice as strong as comparable metal framing material currently on the market. The UC Berkeley team was responsible for developing and conducting the test to gauge wind and seismic resistance of the panels.