Seismic Action Plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal

Plan of Action -- The 10-Point Safer Program

While planning and funding a comprehensive seismic safety program is a major challenge, it also presents an extraordinary opportunity for the campus to re-examine its priorities, processes, and programs for capital development and facility reinvestment. The campus will be able to take a more comprehensive approach to construction rather than the building-by-building approach common in the past.

For example, the size and distribution of classrooms could be changed to improve service to the campus. Also, in planning for any major new development the campus should consider whether the facility should be constructed to a higher than typical level of seismic resistance, enabling the facility to provide emergency services to the campus and local community in the event of a major earthquake.

In addition, the campus has the opportunity to design all new building projects to performance criteria consistent with institutional sustainability; that is, for continued operation soon after an earthquake.

Though this will be a long-term, costly undertaking, the new assessment provides the campus an exceptional framework from which to develop a strategic plan to deliver the most responsible, effective, and cost-efficient solution.

To address the problem aggressively, Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl has committed $1 million to intensify campus planning and has announced a 10-point action plan that includes a high-level administrative restructuring to focus on the issue. The 10-point plan, called the SAFER (Seismic Action plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal) Program, provides a comprehensive approach to seismic safety on the UC Berkeley campus.

The key elements of the 10-point plan are:

1. A new Chancellor’s cabinet-level position to be titled Vice Chancellor for Capital Projects will be created.

A primary component of the new Vice Chancellor’s charge will be to oversee all aspects of the SAFER Program. The search for this position will be initiated immediately with the appointment of a senior search committee chaired by a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet. The committee will include participation from the College of Environmental Design, the College of Engineering or other appropriate academic units, a comparable administrator at another campus of the University of California or the Office of the President, and a member of the UC Berkeley Foundation, in addition to senior staff from existing units within Business and Administrative Services. It is anticipated that this search will be completed within six months.

In the meantime, the Chancellor will appoint an Interim Vice Chancellor for Capital Programs.

2. An Executive Campus Planning Committee to be chaired by the Chancellor will be responsible for all physical planning decisions on the campus.

The committee will approve the siting of new facilities, the initiation, scope, and priority of major projects, the campus physical plan and plans for campus precincts, financing strategies for capital projects, and final design for campus buildings. In addition, the committee will take responsibility for reviewing future needs to meet commitments to the academic program.

The committee will meet monthly and will be chaired by the Chancellor. Its membership will consist of the Chancellor’s Cabinet, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Academic Senate, the Chair of the Design and Review Committee, and an undergraduate and a graduate student.

3. Specific committees will be established to focus on precinct planning and campuswide operational planning.

  • Precinct Planning committees will assess the seismic needs of campus precincts with particular attention to current seismic upgrading plans, non-seismic facility needs, and options for temporary facilities. They will provide priorities where appropriate. Functional areas to be addressed include instruction, research, and infrastructure exterior to buildings. The main precincts are:
    • Agricultural and Life Sciences
    • Engineering and Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics and Physical Sciences
    • Art, Music and Professions
    • Humanities and Social Sciences
    • Library and Administration
    • Student Services and Recreation
    • Off-Campus Sites
  • A Classroom Seismic Assessment and Recovery Committee has been established. This committee is charged with assessment of current general assignment and departmental classroom resources, in light of the seismic report, and the setting of priorities to retrofit classroom facilities. Further, it will be responsible for the development of a plan for recovery of campus classroom resources following a major seismic event.
  • A Research Seismic Assessment and Recovery Committee will be established. It will have similar responsibilities to the classroom committee in the campus’s research arena.
  • A Utility Infrastructure Seismic Assessment and Recovery Committee will be formed to address the seismic safety of critical infrastructure services such as water, power, sewer, gas, and communications. It will analyze the campus’s exterior utility infrastructure in light of potential damage from a major earthquake and recommend actions and strategies to permit continued service or rapid recovery.

4. Determine the need for full or partial closure of any facilities deemed an unacceptable risk.

The campus has longstanding policies regarding the establishment of priorities for seismic correction projects. The key factor is minimizing exposure to risk or personal injury for users of campus facilities, should a significant earthquake occur. Priority is based primarily on the highest Equivalent Continuous Occupancy, or ECO, of each facility and its seismic rating, with Very Poor being a higher priority than Poor. Basic seismic corrections are planned to improve the rating of a structure to Good, which means the facility may or may not be functional after a major earthquake but the risk of serious personal injury or loss of life will be minimal.

All decisions regarding changes in functions of facilities provoked by seismic conditions in a building will be made by the Executive Campus Planning Committee. Options may including closure of an entire building, non-use of certain facilities within a building, or relocation to minimize occupancy of heavily used facilities.

Additional seismic evaluation will be necessary to address this issue fully. In particular, the second phase of the seismic re-evaluation, to be completed in mid-November, will ascertain the current status of those buildings previously rated as Poor. Phase 2 will also encompass the campus’s outlying facilities, including the Richmond Field Station, Clark Kerr Campus, and Botanical Garden.

For safety considerations, immediate attention with regard to reducing occupancy will be given to all buildings rated as Very Poor. In addition, for all buildings rated Poor or Very Poor, consideration will be given to phasing strategies or intermediate retrofit possibilities that could provide a significant improvement in safety until a more permanent solution can be implemented.

5. Develop, coordinate, and establish an integrated planning process with a goal of producing a master plan for facilities renewal.

To ensure that all campus capital resources are invested effectively, it will be necessary to coordinate closely with other planned improvement projects. This will avoid unwise investment in facilities slated for major construction or possible demolition, and will enable the targeting and timing of investment to maximize leverage of available funds. Significant efficiencies and cost savings can be realized if funding from different sources can be blended early in the programming stages of major projects.

Key components of this plan will be the new Executive Campus Planning Committee and Precinct Planning committees. An immediate requirement in this planning process is a detailed building systems assessment with particular attention to buildings rated as Poor or Very Poor.

Most of the seismically deficient buildings were constructed before 1960 and thus contain a disproportionate share of the campus’s deferred maintenance backlog, which exceeds $150 million. They also contain building systems that are at or beyond the range of their economic life cycle and in critical need of replacement or renewal. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing system deficiencies are found throughout older campus facilities. Building systems renewal must be an integral planning consideration in the seismic program if the campus is to maintain its mission and meet its stewardship responsibilities.

6. The campus will overhaul capital project management to improve cost containment, consider new capital program delivery strategies, shorten schedules, and streamline campus policies.

The campus is currently evaluating its management of capital projects. In light of the expected increase in the capital program due to additional seismic projects, the Chancellor has decided to elevate the position of the Planning, Design and Construction (PD&C) department so that it will report directly to the new Vice Chancellor for Capital Projects.

Additional immediate evaluation will result in recommendations for changes in both the resource base and organization of PD&C and other departments involved with the capital program so that the campus can handle the much expanded capital program effectively and assist in the development of our seismic retrofit master plan.

7. The campus will develop plans for a variety of temporary relocation or “surge” space, sites, and buildings.

Strategies to create or provide adequate surge space for the seismic program vary depending on the quantity, type, duration, and schedule of need. If carried out over 20 years, the seismic program would require surge space in the range of 100,000 to 150,000 assignable square feet (ASF), depending on the sequence and timing of projects. Of this, approximately 30,000 ASF is estimated to be research lab space. Approximately 65,000 ASF of nonlab space will become available by the year 2000 as projects presently funded for construction are completed, but many of these sites are scattered and some of the space is of limited use. There is a potential need for 50,000 ASF or more of additional office-type surge space. These figures are averages, and research lab needs could vary considerably from year to year.

There are a number of variables in selecting appropriate sites for temporary relocation of facilities. For example, core instruction and research functions are recommended as highest priority for central campus surge and replacement space.

8. The campus will develop and initiate a multiple-source financing plan to implement the master plan.

There are three general sources of funding for the seismic retrofit program: the state, the federal government, and the University.

The campus is currently receiving an average of $20 million per year from the state for capital projects; for planning purposes this has been projected to continue indefinitely for the seismic program.

In the past, the federal government has provided funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to some institutions in the past for seismic-related projects, although this support has been predominantly for after-the-fact repairs rather than for the type of mitigation effort anticipated in our seismic retrofit program. Conversations with federal government officials are still in the preliminary phase.

Berkeley campus funding will come from several venues. Campus housing and parking projects are expected to be funded from Housing and Dining Services and Parking reserves. Student fees and campus gifts will be sources of funds for some projects. In addition, the Chancellor expects to make a significant contribution of central campus reserves to meet the needs of the seismic program. Funding may also be sought through The Regents.

9. The campus is undertaking a comprehensive emergency preparedness review. This will include mitigating nonstructural hazards, assuring that emergency facilities and critical services are available, and providing emergency response training.

Under the direction of the Emergency Preparedness Manager, a process is being established to determine the facilities necessary to provide critical services and respond efficiently and effectively to a major seismic event. Critical service facilities and infrastructure systems include emergency communications, such as the emergency broadcast channel, cellular phone network, and police dispatch unit; health and emergency aid; emergency supplies and equipment holding areas; food services and refuge areas; and emergency shelter zones and staging areas for external logistics support. Campuswide disaster drills and training programs are scheduled.

10. The campus will develop a comprehensive communications plan to ensure that all members of the campus community are adequately informed.

The SAFER Program, with its implications for the security of the campus community and for the sustained operation of the institution in the event of a major earthquake, will remain an overriding priority of the campus for many years to come.


Frequently Asked Questions

April 24, 1998

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