Engineers and geoscientists have completed a comprehensive re-assessment of seismic safety at B.C. schools based on the latest scientific research, improved technology and study of recent major earthquakes around the world.
The Ministry of Education engaged the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC) and the University of British Columbia's department of civil engineering to conduct a comprehensive update of how B.C. schools are expected to perform in a major earthquake and to upgrade the technical guidelines for seismic retrofits.
The APEGBC-UBC team has developed:
- New assessment tools and procedures for engineers to determine how different sections of school buildings in different parts of B.C.'s seismic zones will withstand different types of earthquakes.
- Cutting-edge technical guidelines for engineers to follow when planning school retrofits and access to ongoing support from APEGBC's technical review committee.
- A data analyzer that gives engineers access to more than eight million sets of peer-reviewed seismic retrofit analysis to assist in the assessment and retrofit design of school structures.
Based on the latest research and more detailed local geotechnical information, the engineers re-evaluated more than 500 schools previously identified for potential funding under the School Seismic Mitigation Program. The new assessment has identified 152 schools with at least one "high risk" building section that need to be addressed with structural upgrades under the School Seismic Mitigation Program. The cost to address these high-priority schools is estimated at $1.3 billion.
The remaining schools have building sections classified as "low" or "medium" risk, which means seismic safety can be achieved through non-structural mitigation or through a school district's regular capital renewal process. The Ministry of Education is exploring options to provide school districts with additional funding for non-structural safety improvements in the medium- and low-ranked schools starting in 2013-14.
George Abbott, Minister of Education -
"The excellent work by our partners at APEGBC and UBC allows us to better prioritize school upgrades and brings us significantly closer to our goal of keeping all students safe in the event of a major earthquake."
Derek Doyle, APEGBC's chief executive officer -
"B.C. has the benefit of tremendous engineering experience, and this has been an unprecedented collaboration between government, academia and the engineering community."
Andy Mill, chair of the APEGBC Seismic Peer Review Committee -
"This is an extremely comprehensive and ground-breaking structural upgrade program. The standardized, peer-reviewed methodology provides a roadmap for assessing and addressing seismic risk in a prioritized and focused way."
Carlos Ventura, director of UBC's Earthquake Engineering Research Facility -
"Since the onset of the Seismic Mitigation Program in 2005, we have learned more about the nature of earthquakes, how structures behave during these kinds of events, and how to predict their behaviour."
"The extensive seismic testing conducted at UBC's Earthquake Engineering Research Facility and at other research facilities around the world, coupled with information gained from recent earthquakes around the globe, has allowed us to develop a new, more accurate seismic assessment methodology that better identifies which schools are most at risk during an earthquake and how to best retrofit those schools."
- Since 2001, government has spent more than $790 million on school seismic upgrades in 37 B.C. school districts.
- Currently, 137 seismic upgrade projects across British Columbia have been completed, are under construction or are proceeding to construction; in addition, there are 30 supported projects working towards formal project agreements.
- Seismic safety is also a key component of government's revitalization of school infrastructure. All of the 93 new and replacement schools built since 2001 are modern, safe, seismically sound buildings.
- In 2010 the Ministry of Education, APEGBC and the UBC Department of Civil Engineering were awarded the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering's Excellence in Innovation in Civil Engineering Award for their role in developing Performance-Based Seismic Assessments and Retrofits of Low-Rise British Columbia School Buildings.
- The Ministry of Education, APEGBC and UBC have agreed to share the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Ministry of Education, Seismic Mitigation Program: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/capitalplanning/seismic/
APEGBC's work on the Seismic Mitigation Program:
UBC's Earthquake Engineering Research Facility: http://www.civil.ubc.ca/about/facilities/eerf.php
Two backgrounders are available online:
Seismic Mitigation Program: Participants and Roles -
152 high-priority schools -
Ministry of Education
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Media line: 250 356-5963
Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC
Agnieszka Pozniak: 778 885-0533
Janet Sinclair: 604 512-8095
University of British Columbia
UBC Public Affairs
Lorraine Chan: 604 822-2644