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Did you know Australia experiences around 100 earthquakes measuring 3.0 or above each year? That’s right, 100 wake-up calls to remind us the ground beneath our feet isn’t quite as stable as we think. Sure, a minor tremor might not bring commercial buildings down.

But what about the big one? We can’t forget the devastating 1989 Newcastle earthquake, that caused billions in damage and tragically took lives.

The point is clear: earthquakes are a reality in Australia, and your commercial property isn’t immune. But here’s the good news: with seismic design, you can be prepared.

At Nexus Engineering, we specialize in designing residential and commercial buildings that stand strong, even when the ground shakes.

So, Let’s dive in and explore why seismic design is not just an option, it’s an essential investment for any Australian commercial building. Here are 7 seismic shocks that will make you rethink your commercial building’s defenses.

Reason #1: Australia Isn’t Immune

Myth: Australia = Stable and earthquake-free sitting on a giant stable tectonic plate.

Reality: Surprise! Australia feels the earth move more often than you think. We experience roughly one small earthquake every single day.

While these tremors may not be devastating, they serve as a constant reminder that the ground beneath our feet is not entirely motionless. And then there are the big ones.

The ones that send shivers down your spine and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. In fact, 1989, the city of Newcastle, NSW, became a terrifying case study. The devastation that it caused was unlike anything Australia had ever witnessed. Thirteen lives were lost, 160 people were injured, and an estimated $4 billion worth of damage to 35000 homes, 147 schools, and 3000 buildings.

Experts believe the damage caused by earthquakes can be attributed to a combination of factors, including soft sediments enhancing the shaking, older buildings unable to withstand the force, and poor seismic engineering.

The Newcastle earthquake serves as a stark warning: underestimating earthquake risk in Australia can have catastrophic consequences.

Thus earthquakes are a reality in Australia, and commercial buildings in Australia are at risk. Don’t wait for the “big one” to take action.

Reason #2: Protecting Lives: Not Just About Bricks and Mortar

In an earthquake, what truly matters?

While your commercial building represents your hard work and dedication, what truly matters the most is the lives of your employees and occupants. Seismic design goes beyond protecting bricks and mortar; it prioritizes the safety of everyone within your building.

Here’s why seismic design matters for lives:

  • Safety First: As discussed previously, the seismic design gives enough time for the occupants to leave the building in case of an emergency. Thus prioritizing the safety of the occupants.
  • Minimized Risk: Earthquakes can be unpredictable, but seismic design minimizes the risk of structural collapse during a seismic event. This helps to protect lives and prevent injuries.
  • Quicker Recovery: While damage may occur, a seismically designed building is likely to experience less structural damage, potentially allowing for quicker repairs and a faster return to normalcy.

Seismic design is an investment in the most valuable asset of your commercial building: its people.

Reason #3: Beyond Lives: The Ripple Effect of a Seismic Event

Earthquakes are often viewed through the lens of human tragedy. Lost lives and injuries are the most devastating consequences.

However, the impact of a seismic event extends far beyond the immediate human cost. It creates a ripple effect that can disrupt businesses and livelihoods for an extended period. A seemingly harmless tremor rattles your building.

While the structure itself holds strong, the shaking disrupts critical systems. Computers reboot, shelves topple, and inventory gets scattered.  The situation is further worsened if your commercial building has a poorly designed engineering fit-out.

In today’s interconnected world, even a minor earthquake can trigger a domino effect, impacting your business in ways you might not expect.

Here’s how:

  • Downtime Disaster: Power outages and IT disruptions can affect your operations. Lost productivity and delayed deliveries can leave your customers frustrated and searching for alternatives.
  • Inventory in Shambles: Broken equipment, damaged stock, and disrupted supply chains can lead to financial losses and delays in fulfilling orders.
  • Employee Impact: A shaky experience can leave your staff feeling rattled and unsure of their safety. Evacuation drills and proper safety protocols become crucial in minimizing disruptions.

Therefore, ripple effect of an earthquake extends far beyond the physical damage to commercial buildings. It can impact your bottom line, customer relationships, and employee morale.

Reason #4: Don’t Be Fooled by “Looks Can Be Deceiving”

A building that looks sturdy can become a dangerous mess if it isn’t built to sway with the earth.

Traditional construction methods might not be enough. Think of your building’s materials, support structures, and overall design.

Are they earthquake-ready?

This isn’t a risk you want to take when it comes to the safety of your commercial building.  A seismic retrofit or a redesign might seem like an inconvenience, but it pales in comparison to the devastation (and potential lawsuits) that follow a quake-induced collapse.

For that reason, don’t let your building become a victim of an earthquake activity. Take action today and be prepared to face any earthquake challenge.

Reason #5: The Peace of Mind Factor: An Investment, Not a Cost

Earthquakes can be unpredictable and unsettling. By incorporating seismic design principles into your commercial buildings, you gain a valuable asset: peace of mind.

Here’s how seismic design offers peace of mind:

  • Prioritizes Safety: A seismically designed building prioritizes the safety of occupants during an earthquake. The structure is engineered to withstand tremors by giving enough time for a safe evacuation. Knowing your building meets Australian standards for earthquake safety provides a sense of security.
  • Minimizes Business Disruption: While some damage may occur during a seismic event, a well-designed building is likely to experience less structural damage. This can help in quicker recovery and minimize downtime for your business. This allows you to get back to normal operations faster, reducing financial losses and stress.
  • Long-Term Value: Seismic design is an investment that adds value to your commercial property. Potential tenants or buyers appreciate the safety features and resilience of a seismically designed building, potentially increasing its value and marketability.

Hence, seismic design isn’t just about following regulations in building commercial buildings; it’s about peace of mind for you, your employees, and your investment.

Reason #6: The Domino Effect: A Societal Responsibility

Earthquakes aren’t isolated events. They can trigger a domino effect that impacts the entire community.

In the event of a major tremor causing widespread damage to commercial buildings. Essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies could be forced to close, disrupting vital supply chains and leaving residents scrambling for necessities.  Hospitals overwhelmed by injuries, transportation networks disrupted – the impact goes far beyond a single building.

Therefore, by ensuring your building is designed and built according to Australian Standards regarding seismic resistance requirements, you’re contributing to a more resilient and prepared society. You’re helping to minimize disruptions, maintain vital services, and ultimately, foster a safer and more secure environment for everyone.

So, don’t just think of earthquake preparedness as an investment in your business – see it as a commitment to your community’s responsibility.

Did You Know:

“Buildings like hospitals, educational facilities, power plants, and other similar buildings are Post-Disaster Response Structures. They are built about 5 times stronger than other buildings. These must remain fully functional even after the seismic event.”

Reason #7: Don’t Wait for the Ground to Shake. Take Action Now!

Earthquakes are a reality in Australia, and ignoring the threat puts your business, your employees, and your peace of mind at risk. Don’t wait for the earth to rumble beneath your feet before taking action. At Nexus Engineering, we specialize in seismic design buildings. We can help you assess your existing building’s vulnerability or design a new commercial building that would satisfy the requirements imposed by the Australian Standards with respect to resistance against seismic forces.

Contact Nexus Engineering today for a free consultation. We can handle all types of projects including residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial to name a few.

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