NextGen Building Systems - S4: Seismically Safer, Sustainable and Smart - Raising the Bar to Enhance Community Resilience and Sustainability

Stefano Pampanin
Sapienza University of Rome

The severe socio-economic impact of recent earthquake events has further highlighted, on one hand, the severe mismatch between societal expectations over the reality of seismic performance of modern buildings, while confirming, on the other hand, the urgency of medium-long-term coordinated plan for seismic retrofit and risk reduction at national scale in most of the seismic-prone countries worldwide.

The engineering concept and code-approach to define an earthquake-resistant building, e.g. a building system capable of sustaining a design level earthquake with extensive (often non-repairable) damage in both structural and non-structural component with the main target being the Life Safety of the occupants, is clearly far from the understanding of the general public who would expect to be provided with “earthquake-proof” buildings.

A paradigm shift in performance-based design criteria and objective towards damage-control or low-damage design philosophy and technologies is urgently required for the design of new structures.

On the other hand, the urgency of a comprehensive and coordinated national plan for an integrated (seismic, energy efficient, architectural) rehabilitation of the existing building stock in most countries worldwide is eventually being recognized as a critical socio-political priority at national and international level. Interestingly enough, ‘Safety first’ is the typically agreed top-of-the list priority and yet, rarely – in “peace time” thus prior to an earthquake event – the desire to improve the seismic safety of a building is the main trigger for a rehabilitation/refurbishment intervention.

Indeed, regardless of the motivational trigger(s), a holistic and comprehensive integrated rehabilitation of the building stock at national level would represent a unique opportunity and long-term investment for the whole countries and communities.

This presentation will provide an overview of recent advances and unique opportunities towards the enhancement of community resilience and sustainability, based on the developments and implementation of both technologies and proactive socio-economic/financial policies towards the development and implementation of: a) next generation technology for an integrated (skeleton + non-structural elements) low-damage building systems, moving towards the concept of an “earthquake proof building” and b) unique proactive socio-economic/financial policies to sustain national-wide long-term programs for the integrated seismic-energy efficiency rehabilitation of the whole building stock.