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Feds’ resilience program funds concrete, masonry building research

Sources: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Md.; CP staff

NIST has announced grants for research into how earthquakes, wind and fire affect the built environment, targeting results that inform building designs, codes and standards. One of 12 projects addresses combustible-material performance in the face of hazard exposure; three others focus on concrete or masonry structure behavior following seismic events.

“Natural hazards represent a significant threat to the well-being of our communities. In 2018 alone, the U.S. experienced 14 separate billion-dollar events, with total losses exceeding $91 billion. The monetary figure does not reflect the many lives lost and countless lives disrupted,” says Howard Harary, director of NIST’s Engineering Laboratory, which manages the Disaster Resilience Research Grant Program. “Each of these grants represents research that is a substantial step toward creating a more disaster resilient nation.”

Project awards were announced earlier this month during the 2019 Disaster Resilience Symposium on the NIST campus outside Washington, D.C. The research goals align with NIST disaster resilience efforts and support development of science-based building codes. Among awardees and their research aims:

  • Research Foundation for SUNY for University at Buffalo ($584,000). Improving unreinforced masonry buildings’ seismic performance and resilience by developing a reliable and cost-effective retrofitting framework.
  • University of Colorado ($366,000). Assessing retrofit solutions so reinforced concrete buildings can be used immediately after an earthquake, an outcome called “functional recovery.”
  • University of Texas at Austin ($691,000). Analytical tools to describe reinforced concrete wall failure, plus effectiveness of retrofit schemes to limit damage from earthquakes.
  • University of Maryland ($550,000). Identify why certain materials and structural components are more likely to be ignited by embers and develop a model describing materials’ degradation and ignition.

A nonregulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve quality of life.  —