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Seismic Strengthening Policy

Category Administration and Management
Type Policy
Approved by Vice-Chancellor, 8 October 2012
Date Policy Took Effect 8 October 2012
Last Approved Revision 12 December 2016
Sponsor Chief Operating Officer
Responsible Officer Director of Property Services
Review Date 12 April 2021

Purpose

This document, and other named documents, establishes the seismic strengthening targets for buildings used by the University of Otago.

Organisational Scope

The Policy applies to all University-owned and leased properties. It is expected that residential colleges affiliated to the University will voluntarily comply.

Definitions

Critical post-earthquake function: A function which will be required following an earthquake, and which cannot readily be delayed or relocated. Examples include emergency operations, student health facilities, ICT operations, key research and teaching equipment, and core multi-purpose shared space.

Detailed Assessment: An in-depth assessment of the structural integrity of a building incorporating on site assessment techniques based upon guidelines set by the New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering.

Earthquake Prone: Any building assessed at less than 34% of New Building Standard, as defined in the Building Act 2004.

Heritage Building(s): A building of significant historic character, appearance and materials which is listed in Schedule 25.1 of the Dunedin City District Plan and/or registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

New Building Standard (NBS): The design standard required for new buildings by New Zealand Standard 1170.5.2004.

NZSEE Grade: An assessment of seismic performance and relative risk using the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering grading system:

Building Grade%NBSApprox. risk relative to a new buildingLife-safety risk description
A+>100<1Low risk
A80 to 1001 to 2 timesLow risk
B67 to 792 to 5 timesLow or medium risk
C34 to 665 to 10 timesMedium risk
D20 to 3310 to 25 timesHigh risk
E<20more than 25 timesVery high risk

Policy Content

This Policy applies to all University buildings, and describes how the University will meet and where appropriate exceed legal requirements in relation to seismic strengthening.  The intention is that seismic strengthening work across the University's properties will be focussed to provide the best overall improvements in life safety for students, staff and visitors to the University.

1. New Buildings

(a) All new buildings will be designed and built to fully comply with current building standards. New buildings with a critical post-earthquake function will be considered for strengthening to a higher standard in order to protect that function.

2. Earthquake prone buildings

(a) All buildings or parts of buildings that are NZSEE Grade E after Detailed Assessment will be assessed for risk, and if appropriate evacuated for health and safety reasons and immediate and appropriate remedial action will be taken.
(b) All buildings or parts of buildings that are Earthquake Prone after Detailed Assessment will have priority for strengthening to at least 34% NBS in accordance with Building Act timeframes.
(c) Student residential college buildings that are Earthquake Prone will have the highest priority to be strengthened to at least NZSEE Grade B, and higher where that is appropriate, taking into account aesthetics, costs and functionality
(d) Initial strengthening work shall focus on those elements that are most critical to life safety (e.g. stairs, parapets and chimneys), in accordance with best practice and to ensure that the University achieves the greatest initial reduction in overall risk.
(e) Other strengthening work shall preferably be programmed in conjunction with other works or adaptions to the building, in order to minimise disruption and cost.

3. Non-earthquake prone buildings

(a) Student residential college buildings and buildings with a critical post-earthquake function that are not Earthquake Prone, but are NZSEE Grade C after Detailed Assessment, will have priority to be strengthened to at least NZSEE Grade B, and higher where that is appropriate, taking into account aesthetics, costs and functionality.
(b) Strengthening of all other buildings which are not Earthquake Prone will be addressed over time in conjunction with other works or adaptions to the building. The appropriate level of strengthening will be assessed on a case-by-case basis taking into account aesthetics, costs and functionality, with priority given to elements which are most critical to life safety.

4. Heritage buildings

(a) Heritage Buildings will be strengthened in accordance with the targets above, and with due respect to their heritage fabric and character.

Summary of strengthening responses:

Type of building or part of building
NZSEE GradeResponse
AnyE very high risk

Assess risk and if appropriate evacuate.

If evacuated, stregthen to at least Grade C before re-occupying.

Student residential college, or critical post-earthquake functionD high riskHighest priority to upgrade, to at least Grade B.
Student residential college, or critical post-earthquake functionC medium riskPriority to upgrade to at least Grade B.
Other buildingsD high risk

Priority to strengthen life safety elements.

Upgrade to at least Grade C in conjunction with programmed works.

All other buildingsC to A medium to low risk

Priority to strengthen life safety elements.

Upgrade as appropriate in conjunction with programmed works.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this Policy or need further clarification, contact
Resource Planner/Policy Adviser Murray Brass on 03 479 8024 or murray.brass@otago.ac.nz