Acceptable Seismic Risk in Commercial Buildings

What does 33% of code mean to the general public?
Which buildings will fail in an earthquake and what does this mean?

This project examines the balance between acceptance of earthquake risk of commercial buildings and the potential economic and liveability impacts of reducing this risk. The research will measure the public understanding of seismic risk from buildings to determine how much risk they are willing to accept in relation to other trade-offs, for example office floor space.

Key research questions:

  • Do the general public understand their building's seismic risk?
  • What features do people look for in a "safe" building?
  • Are people willing to trade amenity or office space for a "safer" building?
  • What is the cost-benefit for building owners of retrofitting?


The study will involve two samples of staff in commercial buildings in both Christchurch and Wellington. Data will be collected using focus groups, paper-based, and online survey methods.

Project Team:

  • Dr Jared Thomas, Theme Leader
  • Dr Felicity Powell
  • Kate Mora
  • Dr Joel Burton
  • Grace Rive
  • Collaborator: Kel Sanderson, BERL