Seismic Policy

Seismic Policy

The university remains committed to seismic safety and continues to make strides in advancing its program. This comprehensive, proactive initiative, involving work across multiple years, is part of UC’s ongoing effort to improve the safety and well-being of the UC community.

Approaches for improving the seismic safety of structures are constantly being enhanced. New insights and discoveries in seismology and structural and geotechnical engineering, resulting in updated techniques, and changes to building codes influence the university’s decision in 2017 to reassess its building inventory. In 2018, the UC Office of the President (UCOP) and the campuses initiated seismic reevaluations of UC facilities in accordance with the UC Seismic Safety Policy (Policy). The Policy is applicable to all university facilities within California, with certain exceptions. For example, the Policy is not applicable to buildings under the regulatory authority of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. 

UCI has made significant progress, despite facing serious challenges, including impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the failure of Proposition 13, the Health and Safety General Obligation Bond Act of 2020 which was anticipated to provide funding to support the work required by the Policy. Progress with the Seismic Safety Program includes completion of initial seismic evaluations on more than 16 million square feet in over 500 buildings, representing the entire eligible inventory of UCI. Of the total, 395 buildings, or nearly 80 percent of the campus building inventory, has been found to be compliant with the UC Seismic Safety Policy. 

The university has completed development of the UC Seismic Risk Model for campuses to use as a tool to support the prioritization of buildings identified as potentially needing seismic improvement As a result of these efforts, the campus has begun to conceptualize strategies to prioritize and implement seismic improvements over time.

Significant challenges remain to achieving the Policy goals. Funding sources have not been identified to address the total capital need for seismic improvements on the campus. Disruptions to core university business functions due to construction must also be considered in any improvement plans. Implementing seismic safety improvements will affect other campus priorities and goals.

Further evaluations and assessments are currently in progress or in the planning stages for buildings where needed. The 2021-27 Capital Financial Plan identifies seismic improvement projects, both funded and with funding not identified, for the coming years. UCI will continue to collaborate with UCOP to incorporate seismic improvement projects into future CFP updates and to identify strategies for addressing these challenges. 

The Seismic Safety Program applies to all campus owned and lease buildings. Key aspects include:

  • Initial seismic evaluations are performed for each building, providing a high-level screening to assign a rating using a “checklist” method
  • Buildings are assigned a Seismic Performance Rating (SPR)
  • Buildings rated SPR V, VI, or VII receive follow up evaluations to confirm the rating using more detailed engineering methods

Buildings confirmed as rated SPR V are identified for potential seismic improvement projects.

The Survey Process

The campus began the survey of existing buildings in late 2018, using the services of consulting structural engineering firms. For each building, the available drawings were reviewed, required engineering checks were completed, and the buildings were visually observed for signs of structural deterioration. These steps comprised an initial screening process to determine which buildings have characteristics known today to likely result in poor seismic performance for a known seismic hazard, resulting in an assigned Seismic Performance Rating (SPR) for each structure. The ratings used are:

  • SPR II: Structure is expected to perform consistent with new construction
  • SPR IV: Structure is expected to perform not as well as new construction, but still perform at a life-safety level
  • SPR V or VI: Structure is not expected to perform at a life-safety level – rating depends on the severity of the concern about the structure
  • Exempt: Small structures that are exempted from a rating classification due to their size and low occupancy

Detailed structural evaluations will be performed in the future for select buildings to confirm their ratings or to define the extent of the seismic improvements required.

FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions. Click any question to expand the answer.
Questions? Email seismic@uci.edu.

Buildings owned or leased by UC Irvine have been evaluated and received an initial rating.

View the list of buildings that have been evaluated and their ratings. UCI had 145 buildings evaluated at V or VI, which requires a second evaluation with deeper analysis. It is possible the analysis may reveal that some buildings receive a better rating and others may need some level of retrofitting.

  • Humanities Hall
  • Social Science Lecture Hall
  • MC Building 30/ Pavilion I

UCI has no buildings rated VII.

Retrofitting work will be prioritized when more is known about the total scope and cost of retrofitting needs.

  • North Campus buildings, parking structures, and all university owned childcare facilities on the campus are part of the seismic evaluation.
  • Leased buildings (not on campus property) occupied by university personnel are also included.
  • University Tower and Research Park both have space leased by the university and also will be reviewed under the scope of the project.
  • University Hills is not included in the seismic evaluations.

Yes - the UCI Medical Center in Orange is included.

UCI completed its most recent retrofit work in 2012.

From 2012 to the present, UCI has added 14 buildings to the campus (none to the Medical Center), which total 876,942 additional square feet.

UCI’s earliest buildings were constructed in the 1960s when the campus opened.

Yes, at the time they were constructed.

UCI has contracted with three engineering firms for the seismic evaluations:

  • Degenkolb Engineers
  • Eqcglobal
  • Thornton Tomasetti

In a previous phase Miyamoto International also provided engineering services.

It’s impossible to know at this stage what the final cost will be by 2030.

The UC system’s Capital Financial Plan through 2028 already includes more than $2 billion in seismic-related projects.

The University of California is exploring sources of funding to help with building retrofits. A General Obligation (GO) Bond issue put forward to voters in March 2020 to fund seismic retrofit projects was not passed. Other funding opportunities are being pursued by the campus and UCOP.

Engineering studies are ongoing to complete more detailed assessments, upgrade ratings where appropriate, and define the scope of retrofits if needed.