A Taxonomy of Building Components for Performance-Based Earthquake Engineering, PEER Report 2005-03


To model the seismic performance of building components, they must first be defined. A categorization system (or taxonomy) of components is developed here, including both structural and nonstructural elements but focusing on the latter. Structural elements are those that are part of the structure’s vertical- or
lateral-force-resisting system. Nonstructural components are generally those that are attached to a structure but are not considered part of either system. Taxonomic groups are defined to meet ten objectives to ensure that meaningful fragility functions can be created for a group. The study focuses on those nonstructural components and some contents that contribute significantly to earthquake-induced repair costs, casualties, or loss of use (dollars, deaths, or downtime). Standard or important proposed taxonomic systems are reviewed in light of how well they meet the ten objectives. Important publications on component seismic fragility are reviewed, including post-earthquake reconnaissance reports. The existing system that comes closest to meeting the design objectives is then selected; modifications are proposed to meet the remaining objectives and to reflect earthquake experience; and the resulting taxonomic system detailed. An important feature of this taxonomic system is that it attempts to distinguish common design or retrofit alternatives that make a difference in seismic performance, such as between braced versus unbraced piping and between anchored versus unanchored electrical equipment. A taxonomic system that makes these distinctions can be used to assess the benefit of design or retrofit alternatives.

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Keith A. Porter
Publication date: 
June 3, 2005
Publication type: 
Technical Report
Porter, K. A. (2005). A Taxonomy of Building Components for Performance-Based Earthquake Engineering, PEER Report 2005-03. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA.