National Building Safety Month – How Can Engineers Protect the Public?



May is National Building Safety Month and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is doing its part to ensure these structures are safe and reliable, despite omnipresent environmental hazards and increasingly severe weather events. The video above highlights one example where ASCE standards prevented disasters.

ASCE has developed building codes and design standards unique to each community’s challenges across the globe. ASCE 7 is the Society’s most widely used professional standard and a critical tool in a civil engineer’s commitment to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. This tool tells engineer show to design buildings to withstand certain hazards, such as severe winds, seismic activity, flooding, and more.

The standard has stood for more than 20 years as the authoritative source for specifications of loads and related criteria used by engineers to design safe, economical, and reliable structures. This standard is updated on a cyclical basis by hundreds of professional civil and structural engineers, researchers, buildings officials, and construction professionals, with the most recent edition being released in late 2021 (ASCE/SEI 7-22 Minimum Design Loads and Associated Criterial for Building and Other Structures).

Communities which adhere to the most stringent ASCE standards have been far more successful avoiding catastrophes than those that choose to forego these standards.  For example, in November 2018, Anchorage, Alaska was hit with a magnitude 7.1 earthquake. The areas with updated building codes experienced minimal damages and zero fatalities occurred.

Of the 40 structures around Anchorage to experience damages in the 2018 event, only one of them was located within the region that requires use of ASCE 7 standards. While the most stringent codes and standards cannot guarantee full protection against catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes, they can improve the likelihood of affected structures remaining stable throughout the event.

Learn more about ASCE 7 here!

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