Developing seismic design technologies to meet the diverse economic and safety needs of owners and society
The PEER mission is to develop and disseminate technologies to support performance-based earthquake engineering (PBEE). The approach is aimed at improving decision-making about seismic risk by making the choice of performance goals and the tradeoffs that they entail apparent to facility owners and society at large. The approach has gained worldwide attention in the past ten years with the realization that urban earthquakes in developed countries – Loma Prieta, Northridge, and Kobe – impose substantial economic and societal risks above and beyond potential loss of life and injuries. By providing quantitative tools for characterizing and managing these risks, performance-based earthquake engineering serves to address diverse economic and safety needs.
There are three levels of decision-making that are served by enhanced technologies for performance-based earthquake engineering and that are focal points for PEER research. One level is that of owners or investors in individual facilities (i.e., a building, a bridge) who face decisions about risk management as influenced by the seismic integrity of a facility. PEER seeks to develop a rigorous PBEE methodology that will support informed decision-making about seismic design, retrofit, and financial management for individual facilities. A second level is that of owners, investors, or managers of a portfolio of buildings or facilities – a university or corporate campus, a highway transportation department, or a lifeline organization – for which decisions concern not only individual structures but also priorities among elements of that portfolio. PEER seeks to show how to use the rigorous PBEE methodology to support informed decision-making about setting priorities for seismic improvements within such systems by making clear tradeoffs among improved performance of elements of the system. A third level of decision-making is concerned with the societal impacts and regulatory choices relating to minimum performance standards for public and private facilities. PEER seeks to make technical contributions to development of performance-based codes and standards. The direct beneficiaries of more rigorous approaches to performance-based earthquake engineering are the owners, investors, and risk managers who face these decisions. All of us, of course, ultimately benefit from decisions about seismic risk that better address tradeoffs between the costs of reducing risks and the benefits resulting from seismic improvements.