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Don’t mention the law: Review of the new seismic strengthening regulations and methodology

12 Feb 2017

The Ministry of Business Information and Employment (MBIE) is currently consulting on the regulations and the earthquake prone building (EPB) identification methodology required under the Building (Earthquake-Prone Building) Act 2016.

The purpose of this document is to set the Society's views on the most important issues raised in the consultation documents, and in the Engineering Assessment Guidance (EAG) documents that cover the substance of the EPB identification methodology.

The big issues found are:

  • The definition of ultimate capacity, which sets the trigger point for identifying earthquake prone buildings
  • The application of the EPB test through the MBIE Chief Executive’s methodology
  • The inadequate assessment of how the new framework will work in practice
  • The cost of the building assessments process
  • The way building seismic risk information is to be conveyed to the public
  • Only a narrow group have contributed to the process
  • Seismic fundamentalism.

Key conclusions

  • MBIE has appropriately defined the key term in the definition of earthquake prone building
  • MBIE has wilfully ignored the Supreme Court
  • Engineers have been directed to understate buildings’ seismic capacity
  • Wellington’s 2016 earthquake shows claims about EPB risk grossly overstated
  • The NZSEE risk grading framework is grossly misleading
  • The methodology is a mess
  • There has been no testing of the models
  • The Initial Evaluation Procedure evaluation should be honestly calibrated and applied 
  • Policy development process has been captured by private interests
  • The evidence that reinforced concrete EPBs actually perform very well has been ignored 
  • Simple low cost interventions that will deal with the worst risks have been ignored
  • Government should contribute to save our architectural heritage
  • Call an implementation halt
  • Get independent advice
Publication Details
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