The US Geological Survey has said that California has a 99.7% chance of having a magnitude 6.7 earthquake — or bigger — in the next three decades. University of California, Berkeley Professor and former Architecture Department Chair Mary Comerio told the Architect’s Newspaper this week that, “California is probably the best-prepared place in the world,” but there are still preventative measures to be taken. She’s trying to bring the green community, architects and the construction industry together to lobby for retrofit laws for old buildings that are at risk.
“There is an important opportunity for working in tandem with the green movement and renovations of existing buildings. Your building isn’t going to be very sustainable if it falls down,” Comerio told the Architect’s Newspaper. She’s right — if modern building codes don’t require the toughest of standards for earthquake protection, the best LEED certified buildings could be rubble in a matter of moments.
Comerio and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) have been researching the structure of buildings in California and around the world in order to target those most at risk. On the West Coast, “soft-story” buildings which have large open ground floors for parking garages or large commercial spaces are in the most danger. Shes calling for everyone involved in the building industry to band together to get legislation passed to require retrofits for existing at-risk structures. In the long run, making buildings sturdier will save money and resources by keeping them upright and safe.