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Resilient & Sustainable Buildings

February 24, 2015

CIV Mehrdad Sasani, David Fannon, Matthias Ruth, & Matthew Eckelman were awarded a $1.1M NSF grant for “A Decision and Design Framework for Multi-Hazard Resilient and Sustainable Buildings


Abstract Source: NSF

Buildings are among the most complex and resource-intensive objects designed and built by humans. Buildings shelter occupants from multiple natural hazards, such as windstorms and earthquakes. Constructing and operating buildings for daily use consumes considerable energy, water, and material resources, and has associated environmental effects on ecosystems, human health, and the global climate. Current research and design approaches neither treat the risks from multiple hazards in a uniform way nor comprehensively address the environmental impacts of buildings. Most critically, these approaches do not systematically integrate sustainability and resilience over the lifespan of the various systems in a building. This research will create a science-based framework to design buildings that are both resilient to preserve their function in the face of multiple hazards and are also sustainable to reduce the adverse impacts on occupants and the environment. Designing healthier, more efficient, adaptable, and resilient buildings benefits the nation's ecological health, economic prosperity, and human welfare.

Designing, building, and operating resilient and sustainable buildings requires interdisciplinary expertise from the fields of architecture, engineering, economics, and social science to carefully weigh various options and make informed decisions. This research will investigate a framework to support decision makers by drawing together a number of interdisciplinary research activities that quantify the functional performance of buildings in the face of adverse events, aim at a consistent resilience across multiple hazards (including earthquakes, wind, and floods), and measure the environmental impact of buildings during their lifespan. Given the risks due to multiple hazards, the response of each element of the soil, foundation, structure, and envelope system and their interactions wiil be evaluated to quantify damage, and in turn translate it into the primary resilience metrics: degradation of building function and time to recovery. A probabilistic approach will be used to account for uncertainties in demands and capacities and quantify resilience over a building's lifespan, factoring in the multiple hazards it will face as well as normal deterioration. As part of this process, resilience will be quantified for multiple hazards of buildings designed according to current codes and the results will be used to propose a new design concept for consistent resilience. Life-cycle assessment will be used to quantify environmental impacts and economic costs to evaluate sustainability. Finally, the results will be integrated into a decision framework in which resilience, sustainability, and economic costs are quantified over the lifespan of the building and used with social impacts to select among alternative soil-foundation-structure-envelope building system designs that are both resilient and sustainable.