Non-Structural Earthquake Risk Management for Residential Buildings

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Solveig Thorvaldsdottir
Bjarni Bessason
Rajesh Rupakhety


As buildings become more resilient against structural damage the cost of non-structural damage and their consequences becomes proportionally higher, giving non-structural damage greater importance in earthquake risk reduction. Providing residents with detailed guidance on how to evaluate their risk regarding non-structural earthquake damage, and what mitigation and preparedness options they have, can increase both home and societal earthquake resiliency. Earthquake damage data from destructive earthquakes in south Iceland in 2000 and 2008 were used to develop simple but detailed twelve-step risk-management guidelines for residents. The guidelines are based on a set of disaster-related objectives. A standard loss estimation study was used to develop guidelines for the fixed non-structural elements and photographs from inside homes that had sustained significant non-structural damage were used to develop guidelines for loose items. Virtually every item in the studied homes was considered to understand its importance and its relevance to the function of a home. Information in terms of financial, functional and emotional value were used in the guidelines to help residents decide which mitigation options to take. The photos provided valuable information by placing each item in context with its surroundings, for example, to understand the possibility of motion and consequences to other items. The proposed approach, although based on observations from residential buildings, is useful for facilities that have sensitive operations, such as offices, industrial facilities, hospitals and government services. As societies become more complex and reliant on non-structural elements, systematic and thorough studies such as the one outlined herein become an increasingly critical part of sound earthquake risk management.

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How to Cite
Thorvaldsdottir, S., Bessason, B. and Rupakhety, R. (2021) “Non-Structural Earthquake Risk Management for Residential Buildings”, Annals of Geophysics, 64(3), p. SE323. doi: 10.4401/ag-8451.
Empowering communities for non-structural seismic risk mitigation: the central role of communication