Advisory document on newly released National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM)

Today GNS Science has released the revised National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM). The Structural Engineering Society of New Zealand (SESOC), the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE) and the New Zealand Geotechnical Society (NZGS) have collaborated to publish an advisory document giving interim guidance to design professionals and their clients until such time as any future updates are made to the New Zealand Building Code.

SESOC, NZSEE and NZGS understand that the NSHM is the latest science that will be used to inform design requirements within the Building Code. It will take time for the new science to be evaluated and for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to consider how to incorporate the model into the Building Code. In the meantime, we want to provide our members advice on how to proceed in the time between the model being released and any future Building Code update. The National Seismic Hazard Model will inform design Standards and design actions, however it is not a design document and should not be treated as such.

The Interim Advice on the 2022 National Seismic Hazard Model Release advisory document we have published will assist building designers in their discussions around hazard information with their clients and help them to engage in conversations regarding structural options which may buffer against hazard uncertainty.

Earlier this year, the technical societies published the Earthquake Design for Uncertainty guidance providing good design principles that should be referred to alongside the new advice.

SESOC, NZSEE and NZGS are currently planning a seminar for members on both the Earthquake Design for Uncertainty and the Interim Advice for National Seismic Hazard Model. The seminar will be held in late October in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, with an online option available. Invitations will be sent by email to our members in the near future.   

You can read the Interim Advice on the 2022 National Seismic Hazard Model document here.

2022 NSHM Website (National Seismic Hazard Model – GNS Science | Te Pῡ Ao)

SESOC’s Position Statement on Sustainable Design

Recognition of the environmental impacts of our work has long been an important part of our profession, as included in the Engineering New Zealand Code of Ethics. There is currently a growing focus on how to address this concern, in a way that recognises the ongoing importance of balancing environmental, economic, social, and cultural sustainability initiatives and outcomes on projects.

New Zealand’s net-zero-carbon legislation requires all industries to contribute to the carbon reduction journey and this is no different for the Construction and Structural Design industries. The Building and Construction sector currently accounts for around 15% of New Zealand’s annual carbon emissions (MBIE,2021); and around half of this is through the materials used in buildings and infrastructure.

SESOC recognises that carbon emissions reduction requirements will have a significant impact on structural engineering practice in the coming years. In fulfilment of our purposes as a society, we will encourage and support structural engineers to meet these emissions reduction requirements by (i) promoting excellence in design, (ii) disseminating relevant knowledge, (iii) promoting and participating in education and training of structural engineers (iv) providing a forum for communication, (v) participating in the development of standards and guidelines as appropriate, (vi) promoting safe economical construction in accordance with relevant standards, and (vii) working with like-minded organisations.

As examples of these initiatives in support of New Zealand’s net-zero-carbon targets, SESOC:

  • welcomes and supports the Whole-of-Life Embodied Carbon Emissions Reduction Frameworks, part of MBIE’s Building for Climate Change Programme.
  • encourages our members to engage with, understand, and undertake embodied carbon assessments for their projects and report the results widely to increase the overall ‘carbon literacy’ of the industry (and clients) ahead of the expected mandatory reporting requirements from Central Government.
  • has established a Sustainable Design Task Group which has begun to collect guidance, training and other useful resources HERE. This provides a starting point for all structural engineering professionals interested in upskilling and becoming conversant with the language of sustainable design and embodied carbon reduction strategies.
  • welcomes and supports the promotion by a number of leading structural engineers of a “Structural Engineers Declaration ” encouraging Companies to change the way they work.
  • Will continue to facilitate opportunities for continuing professional development on the subject of sustainability and emissions reduction as they relate to structural engineering practice in New Zealand.

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