Seismic Retrofit Guidance

In 2004, the Ministry of Education (EDUC) engaged Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia, with support from the University of British Columbia Civil Engineering Department, to assist with the implementation of a seismic upgrade program for BC schools. This included the development of seismic assessment tools and guidelines for the performance-based seismic retrofit of BC school buildings.

The advice and technical assistance of Engineers and Geoscientists BC in this area has been provided to the EDUC through the organization’s Seismic Peer Review Committee. The committee is comprised of professional engineers with specific expertise in seismic assessment and retrofits of buildings, appointed by the Board of Engineers and Geoscientists BC.

The EDUC has also worked with Engineers and Geoscientists BC to fund the establishment of a Technical Review Board consisting of structural and geotechnical engineers. The board provides technical reviews of Seismic Project Identification Reports (SPIRs), responds to questions and comments regarding the application of the guidelines, and advises the Seismic Peer Review Committee on innovative seismic retrofit techniques which should proceed to formal testing.

Technical Guidelines on Seismic Retrofitting of Schools Endorsed

Engineers and Geoscientists BC has endorsed a number of technical guidelines for the seismic retrofitting of schools in British Columbia. The most recent, released in November 2022, are the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines, 2020 Edition (SRG2020). The guidelines utilize a performance-based methodology for the seismic assessment and retrofit of BC school buildings.

The guidelines, as detailed below, have evolved over time with enhancements and improvements being made as each edition was developed and published:

  • 2006, the interim Bridging Guidelines for the Performance-based Seismic Retrofit of BC Schools were created to provide consistent and rational retrofit methodologies for Engineers and Geoscientists BC members who were undertaking work on the seismic assessment and retrofit of BC schools.
  • May 2011, The Seismic Retrofit Guidelines, 1st Edition, replaced the Bridging Guidelines.
  • November 2013, The Seismic Retrofit Guidelines, 2nd (SRG-2) Edition, were introduced. SRG-2 applied the same performance-based methodology used in the previous editions, but also included enhanced information on seismicity by community and common school construction types, prioritizing structural elements that are at greatest risk, as well as a complementary web-based tool (Seismic Performance Analyzer) which allows practitioners to instantly generate seismic resistance criteria for specific types of construction.
  • June 2017, SRG-3 comprised of 11 volumes considers the effects of adjusted ground motions developed for the National Building Code of Canada 2015 and additional prototypes. In addition, enhancements to the Seismic Performance Analyzer web-based tool have been incorporated into the Seismic Performance Analyzer 1 version 3.0.
  • November 2022, SRG2020 was approved for use by the Ministry of Education (see the Technical Review Board Memorandum dated November 2022 provided below). Training on SRG2020 is scheduled on May 5, 2023. If you are engaged to conduct a SPIR between November and the training in early 2023, contact TRB Manager, Phillip Chambers at 250.216.8906, or at [email protected].

For more information on the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines, 3rd Edition, please contact Peter Mitchell, Director, Professional Practice, Standards and Development at [email protected] or 604.412.4853.

Engineering Firms with Professional Engineers Trained on the Use and Application of the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines

The EDUC has directed that the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines be applied to all schools undergoing a seismic retrofit under their School Seismic Mitigation Program. The following list of firms have a professional engineer(s) on staff who are trained on the use and application of the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines: Company List.

Companies trained on the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines and identified on the Company List are qualified and available to carry out seismic assessments and retrofits of BC school buildings under the EDUC's Seismic Mitigation Program. In order to provide such services, these companies need to remain up-to-date. To maintain their status, at least one individual within their office must have attended the following training seminar, conducted by Engineers and Geoscientists BC on the current version of the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines:

  • School Seismic Retrofit Guidelines, 3rd Edition Workshop (June 23, 2017)

Engineering firms interested in carrying out seismic assessments/retrofit work, but did not have a professional engineer attend the above referenced training session can be added to the list if they purchase and view the recording of the SRG-3 workshop held on June 23, 2017. This can be done by accessing the organization’s Knowledge Centre. One of the professional engineers employed by the firm that has viewed the recording must then submit written confirmation that they have viewed and are sufficiently familiar with the materials provided in the seminar. The SRG-3 seminar recording can be found in the Knowledge Centre. If you have questions regarding the purchase of or accessing the recording of the SRG-3 workshop through the organization’s Knowledge Centre, please contact Jennifer Chan in Programs and Professional Development, at [email protected] or 604.412.4861. If you have questions regarding the Seismic Performance Analyzer 1 version 3.0, please contact Amanda Ho in Professional Practice at [email protected] or 604.412.4884.

Seismic Project Identification Reports (SPIRs) and Related Documentation

To Initiate a New SPIR Project the Engineer of Record is required to:

  1. Log in to the School Seismic Upgrade Program Member Portal and complete the Initiate New SPIR Project form.
  2. Record the SPIR number provided on the confirmation page.
  3. When a new project is initiated, the portal confirmation is also sent to John Wallace (TRB Chair) and Phillip Chambers (TRB Manager).
  4. Phillip Chambers will follow up with assigning a TRB Reviewer to the project and will advise the Engineer of Record accordingly.
  5. The Engineer of Record and the assigned TRB Reviewer are then required to communicate with each other to discuss project details, timelines and expectations.
  6. Work can now start on the SPIR's.

If there are any questions regarding the above process, please contact Phillip Chambers, Manager, Technical Review Board or by telephone at 250.216.8906.

The Summary of SPIR Guidelines was issued by the EDUC to school districts. As well as informing them of the SPIR process, the summary document reinforced that school districts are to use a standard fee schedule when hiring engineering firms to carry out SPIRs. While the guidelines provide a brief overview of the SPIR process for school districts, the SPIR Guidelines document is the appropriate reference for engineering firms to follow when completing SPIRs including the preparation of fees.

BC Seismic Retrofit Program Database

Engineers and Geoscientists BC/UBC and the EDUC have developed an online database to track seismic risk and status of all schools in British Columbia. In addition to school keyplans and photos, the database also stores all completed SPIRs. If you are a consulting engineer currently working for one or more school districts, you can gain access to this database by filling out a Confidentiality Agreement and sending a copy to Lina Bowser, Manager, Regulation of Firms Training at Engineers and Geoscientists BC.

Awards and Recognition

The Seismic Retrofit Guidelines have been recognized with a number of awards for their innovation and technical expertise. These include:

  • Canadian Society of Civil Engineering – Excellence in Innovation in Civil Engineering (2010)
  • Association of Consulting Engineering Companies BC – 'Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Engineering Excellence' and 'Award of Excellence - Soft Engineering' (2013)
  • Association of Consulting Engineering Companies Canada – 'Engineering a Better Canada Award' and  'Award of Excellence – Special Projects' (2013)
  • Applied Technology Council (ATC) and Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers – 'Champions of Earthquake Resilience Award - Extraordinary Innovation in Seismic Protection of Buildings’ (2015)