Seismic Safety: UC Policy, Campus Building Ratings and Resources

Chancellor's Message on Seismic Safety

In August 2017, Chancellor Christ provided Berkeley’s faculty, staff, and students an update about work underway across the University of California system to assess, analyze, and mitigate existing seismic hazards. This initiative is the product of recent revisions to the UC Seismic Policy that were adopted in 2017 by the UC Regents in order to address potential seismic risk across all of the University of California campuses. Please read the Chancellor’s message and a summary Q&A of this issue on Berkeley News.

Decades of Progress Made and Projects Underway

In 1975 the UC Regents adopted the first UC Seismic Policy. Following that, Berkeley participated in the first system-wide study to assess and assign seismic performance ratings to campus buildings. Based on the results, the campus initiated projects to retrofit numerous buildings. Corrections totaling approximately $250 million had been made by the late-1990s/early-2000s, including the retrofits of three high-rise residence hall complexes, the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, Harmon Gymnasium (now Haas Pavilion), Moffitt and Doe Libraries, and South, Wheeler, California, McCone, Barker, North Gate, and University halls.

UC Berkeley campus commissioned a new seismic review of its buildings in 1997 in response to significant advancements in structural engineering and following several major seismic events in California, such as the Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes. With this understanding, and in consideration of Berkeley’s proximity to the Hayward Fault, the age of campus buildings, and an obligation to provide safe facilities for students, faculty, and staff, the campus launched SAFER (Seismic Action plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal). Since 1997, significant progress has been made toward improving the seismic safety of campus facilities. To date, more than $1 billion has been spent addressing seismic deficiencies as identified by the SAFER program across more than one million square feet of space in dozens of buildings – work that continues to this day. Here are a few examples:

  • Giannini Hall – The building is currently vacant (occupants have surged to other buildings), and a seismic retrofit project is underway with completion projected for fall 2020.
  • Tolman Hall – Demolition has nearly been completed, and occupants were moved into a new replacement building, Berkeley Way West, in 2018. Planning is underway for the site that could include replacements for seismically deficient buildings.
  • 2223 Fulton Street – Rated as poor in our last seismic assessment, this building was evacuated and has been demolished.

UC Seismic Policy

In 2017, the UC Regents adopted significant revisions to the UC Seismic Policy. Per the new policy, a system-wide Seismic Advisory Board was formed. Comprised of leading experts, the Seismic Advisory Board instituted new guidelines for the assessment of all UC buildings based on advancements in scientific understanding of seismic events, as well as associated changes in California building codes arising from advances in engineering methodologies.

The updated UC Seismic Policy is consistent with, and supportive of Berkeley’s long-standing proactive approach to seismic issues by its requirement that every building with significant seismic performance deficiencies must be retrofitted, replaced, or evacuated no later than the year 2030.

See here for a detailed explanation of the ratings and their meaning.

Campus Building Ratings and Reports

Ratings for UC Berkeley Owned and Occupied Buildings - Updated August 2019

Current Seismic Assessment Initiative Results (Phases 1 and 2; Phase 3 is underway):

Previous Seismic Assessment Results:

Summary of all known campus buildings rated “poor,” meaning they have a seismic performance rating of V or VI (at present, there are no buildings are rated VII):

Post-Earthquake Building Evaluation Protocol

The campus has an Emergency Operations Plan that outlines the organizational framework, guidance, and authority for responding to and recovering from an emergency. This policy specifically defines the process for Post-Earthquake Building Evaluation and the protocols for evaluating the structural integrity of buildings and infrastructure following a seismic event.