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With the nationwide adoption of the International Building Code (IBC) equipment suppliers are being asked to certify their equipment for seismic loads. This is because the IBC requires equipment that is considered critical to continue to operate after an earthquake. Per the code there are three methods of certifying a piece of equipment for critical seismic use. Per ASCE 7-05;
- This is using standard engineering practices to ensure a piece of equipment will continue to operate. Most commonly Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is used to ensure equipment will not fail.
- Physical testing in accordance with ICC-ES AC 156
- This is using a shaker table to simulate an earthquake of a given size to ensure the equipment will not fail.
- Experience data
- This is using historical data to prove that a piece of equipment will continue to operate after a given size earthquake based on the largest earthquake that type of equipment as been through. Most commonly used are the SQUG and SEQUAL data bases.
The intention of the (IBC) is to reduce the rebuilding costs after an earthquake and ultimately the liability to a building owner. The initial added construction costs associated with following the IBC will be much less than the cost to fix a building after a seismic event has occurred. After the Loma Preata earthquake in Southern California, the International Code Counsel discovered that the majority of the buildings were damaged due to mechanical and plumbing failures within buildings. The IBC was introduced to fix this problem by requiring buildings in high seismic areas with high impact to human life to restrain mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment and utilities.