Rebuild to Stronger Codes and Standards to Prevent Disaster Repetition
2017 was a year of unprecedented natural disasters and 2018 isn’t showing signs of being different. From wildfires and mudslides in the west to Nor’easter and hurricane storms in the east and tornadoes, flooding and earthquakes at points in between, the built environment finds itself in the crosshairs of Mother Nature and legislators when it comes to building codes and expectations.
While building codes are created to ensure health, safety and welfare of occupants, they are sometimes viewed as costly and unnecessary changes benefitting only certain producers or industries and not necessarily the greater good. Regardless of one’s particular views on the topic, there is plenty of evidence showing that codes work, for all intents and purposes. In addition to lives saved, buildings designed to be sustainable and resilient in the face of disasters help ensure communities recover faster. Organizations such as FEMA are footing more frequent and more expensive bills in areas that fail to take proactive measures in limiting losses from disaster. This is an unsustainable practice in a time when disasters aren’t once-in-a-lifetime events, but more frequent and foreseeable as climate changes and sea levels rise.
Don Beers, PE, and Pat McLaughlin found that, while winds of Hurricane Irma weren’t technically strong enough to test Florida building codes, masonry structures withstood the storm better than other structures. Metal buildings and light frame wall systems saw failure at unexpected rates. Findings are discussed in Assessment of Building Resilience and Building Codes after Hurricane Irma.
Regardless of whether the appetite for requiring building resilience remains relatively low, building performance is highly desirable. Designers can advocate and design for resilience and performance at the same time with masonry. David Biggs, PE, SE, DIST M ASCE, HTMS, FSEI, explains how masonry can meet load requirements of various building standards, mitigating damage from natural and man-made events, providing owners with resilient buildings with the ability to outlast any other structures in his article Building Beyond Building Codes.
In Case You Missed It, Steve Dill, SE and Andres LePage, PhD, SE explained the Limit Design Method for earthquake-resistant masonry in volume 1, number 1 of SMART| dynamics of masonry. The method, incorporated into 2013 TMS 402/602, is summarized again in this issue.
In addition to many inherent and resilient benefits of structural masonry, temporary wall bracing can be internalized into the wall, reducing materials and construction costs. In Internally Braced Taller Walls, Mason Contracter Scott Shepers and Professional Engineer Todd Dailey explain how this method works and prevented lost time as a result of high winds for one contractor.
The technological advancements made possible by the BIM for Masonry initiative are taking hold in the real world. Mason Contractor Mike Kinateder shares some of the ways his company incorporated BIM-M tools on the masonry for the recently completed 7Seventy7 in his article Masons Onboard with Modeling Tools and Technology.
Finally, the distinguished design feature showcases three K-12 schools that make the most of masonry’s design flexibility and multi-tasking ability to ensure districts and communities receive facilities that are safe, durable, comfortable, efficient and representative of their dedication and long-term commitment to preparing students with the education and skills to excel.