PEER's Benefits to California

California has the greatest seismic risk exposure of any state in the country. The average annual projected losses to the building stock alone are estimated by FEMA at approximately $3.3 billion in California, or approximately 75% of all the known annualized seismic risk of the entire country. This is due to the combination of high seismicity and high concentration of population and associated businesses and industry in seismically active areas.

The PEER Center's research and technology transfer activities benefit the State by helping to systematically reduce seismic risk through the development of performance-based earthquake engineering technologies and products, the transfer of the results of the Center's research to the public and private sectors, and in the training of future students, engineers and researchers.

During the lifetime of the PEER Center the average level of seismic hazard mitigation statewide exceeded $5 billion. Even with such a large expenditure of monies into seismic hazard mitigation, much remains to be done. To help make that seismic hazard mitigation more cost effective, the PEER Center has undertaken both basic and applied research programs, incorporating a user-driven approach in which researchers, funding entities and those who implement seismic hazard mitigation work together to develop credible and useful contributions to increasing seismic safety throughout the state. The PEER Center's world-renowned research has already had a major positive impact on the utilities, transportation, and buildings fields.

Major PEER Center activities that have made a significant impact include:

  • Improvements in the safety and reliability of electricity and transportation lifelines through focused research and implementation activities..
  • The production of new data and models for ground shaking and ground failure hazards statewide, leading to major improvements in hazard assessment now in widespread use for all types of constructed facilities
  • Development of new procedures for assessment and design of buildings, now widely used in performance assessment and retrofitting of existing hazardous buildings as well as the design of new buildings.

These activities have come from both the Core Program and the Lifelines Program of the PEER Center.

Specific products now in widespread use in California include:

  • - The PEER strong ground motion database, which has become the go-to resource for ground motions for use in seismic design of constructed facilities.
  • - The NGA models for ground motion attenuation, which are now the basis for seismic hazard mapping in California.
  • - Seismic assessment models for older hazardous concrete construction, adopted as the basis for seismic assessment standards now in widespread use to assess existing hazardous construction including hospitals, schools, and other buildings.
  • - New models for seismic response of liquefiable soil deposits, which assists engineers, planners, and emergency response officials assess hazards and design requirements for bridges, levees, buried pipelines, and ports, harbors, and marine oil terminals in California.

It is expected that the PEER Center's current major efforts in earthquake damage assessment for bridges, buildings and electrical equipment, as well as new ground motion intensity tools will be completed by 2006. As a result, advanced planning for new projects is underway at the PEER Center. The general direction of the new projects is anticipated to take advantage of the establishment of the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), more active interaction between the PEER Center and other earthquake centers worldwide, implementation of the PEER performance-based earthquake methodology in specific applications such as highrise buildings, and guidance and support from the State of California.

In addition to its research agenda, PEER contributes to California through the education of future generations of earthquake practitioners who benefit from the latest ideas and technologies, and who will bring to California a multi-disciplinary, results-driven approach to risk mitigation activities.