Implementation of low damage construction: What are the challenges?
Christchurch earthquake events have raised questions on the adequacy of performance-based provisions in the current national building code. At present, in the building code the performance objectives are expressed in terms of safety and health criteria that could affect building occupants. In general, under the high intensity Christchurch events, buildings performed well in terms of life-safety (with a few exceptions) and it proved that the design practices adopted for those buildings could meet the performance objectives set by the building code. However, the damage incurred in those buildings resulted in unacceptably high economic loss. It is timely and necessary to revisit the objectives towards building performance in the building code and to include provisions for reducing economic implications in addition to the current requirements. Based on the observed performance of some buildings, a few specific issues in the current design practices that could have contributed to extensive damage have been identified and recommended for further research leading towards improved performance of structures. In particular, efforts towards innovative design/construction solutions with low-damage concepts are encouraged. New Zealand has been one of the leading countries in developing many innovative technologies. However, such technically advanced research findings usually face challenges towards implementation. Some of the reasons include: (i) lack of policy requirements; (iii) absence of demonstrated performance of new innovations to convince stakeholders; and (iv) non-existence of design guidelines. Such barriers significantly affect implementation of low damage construction and possible strategies to overcome those issues are discussed in this paper.