Project Title/ID Number Regulatory System Implications of Performance-Based Regulation—1232002
Start/End Dates 10/1/02—9/30/03
Project Leader Peter May (UW/Faculty)
Team Members Chris Koski (UW/Grad Student)
Project goals and objectives

Key societal issues for PBEE are the need for and the ability of the building regulatory system to adjust to changes brought about by the performance-based approach. Although code-writers are advancing application of PBEE concepts, the question remains how well those who implement codes – state agencies, local building code authorities, building officials, and inspectors – are able to adapt to these provisions.

Role of this project in supporting PEER’s vision
This project fits into the PEER research agenda of identifying barriers to adoption and implementation of PBEE in considering the regulatory system implications of the performance-based approach. This project also helps bridge the activities of PEER and the ATC 58 project addressing development of guidelines for performance-based seismic design.
Methodology employed

This is the first year of an anticipated two-year project. The initial phase of the project consists of documenting issues that have arisen with efforts to introduce performance-based approaches in other regulatory arenas (e.g., fire safety, food quality, nuclear power) in the contest of consider risk-based and other regulatory approaches. This research involves review of relevant secondary accounts (e.g., reports, conference papers, articles) that focus on the changes that were made and implementation problems that arose.

Brief description of past year’s accomplishments and more detail on expected Year 6 accomplishments

This Year 6 project is a new project that is generally follows from the PI’s Year 5 project, “Barriers to Adoption and Implementation of PBEE.” That project entailed a review of the literature on diffusion of innovations and a set of case studies concerning earthquake innovations. Three cases were selected for this study:

  1. Seismic (base) isolation as an example of a methodology/technology that took a long period of time to gain currency, reflective of differences of opinions about the approach and cost of implementing it
  2. Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) as a methodology for engineering that serves as a basis for much of the thinking about PBEE
  3. PBEE as a methodology that has been evolving and is the focus of PEER research

The lessons from these cases suggest that the key barriers to adoption and implementation, and steps to overcoming them for PBEE are:

  1. Overcoming uncertainty about the PBEE methodology and its benefits
  2. Addressing concerns about the costs of employing the methodology
  3. Addressing the complexity of the methodology
  4. Legitimizing the methodology
  5. Establishing a comparative advantage
  6. Facilitating early adoption

The Year 5 project made note of the typical pattern of diffusion of innovations (Figure 1) for which PBEE is currently in the early phases of methodological development. Based on past patterns of diffusion of engineering innovations, it could be 10 to 15 years before PBEE gains widespread acceptance among engineering firms and the design professions.


Figure 1. Typical Diffusion Pattern for Innovations
Larger View

The Year 6 research, in addressing regulatory systems implications, is considering three different aspects:

  1. Identification of implementation issues that have arisen for other performance-based regulatory approaches (e.g., fire safety, some environmental regulations)
  2. A depiction of the existing regulatory regime – this consists of documenting the roles and existing tensions in regulatory implementation
  3. Consideration of implications of the implementation issues in other arenas for the building regulatory regime
Other similar work being conducted within and outside PEER and how this project differs

None of the other centers have research that considers these topics. MCEER has funded research that relates to the generic issues of adoption, innovation, and diffusion of seismic innovations. As in prior years, contacts will be maintained with relevant MCEER and MAE investigators. More relevant to the proposed project are two international committees:

  1. International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB) Task Group 37 addressing “Performance and Building Controls,” including sessions at CIB world conferences (most recently 2002, Melbourne) on Performance-Based Codes
  2. Inter-Jurisdictional Regulatory Collaboration Committee (IRCC) comprised of building regulatory officials from eight countries (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, UK, and the US) addressing broader regulatory issues for building construction
Plans for Year 7 if this project is expected to be continued
The Year 7 research is anticipated to continue with refinement of thinking about regulatory systems implications and initial thinking about societal implications of PBEE approaches. 
Describe any instances where you are aware that your results have been used in industry
This project helps bridge the activities of PEER and the ATC 58 project addressing development of guidelines for performance-based seismic design. As such, as with prior research by the PI, the impacts will be on ways of thinking about decision-making regarding and regulation of performance-based approaches. 
Expected milestones

Milestones for the initial year are:

  • June 15, 2003 -- Literature search and compilation of materials concerning performance-based regulatory issues for fire-safety and other selected cases. (Paper scheduled to be delivered in early June at the Regulatory Panel of the Law and Society Association annual meeting)
  • September 30, 2003 – Completion of draft discussion paper addressing implementation issues for performance based regulatory approaches.

Relevant conference papers and articles.