School Seismic Upgrade Program

In 2004, the Ministry of Education (MOE) 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 MOE through the association’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 Council of Engineers and Geoscientists BC.

The MOE 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 2013, are the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines, 2ndEdition. The guidelines utilize a performance-based methodology for the seismic assessment and retrofit of BC school buildings.

In partnership with UBC, the association has been assisting the MOE to implement the Seismic Mitigation Program since 2004. Under the direction of Engineers and Geoscientists BC, risk assessment and mitigation strategies for the seismic upgrading of schools in British Columbia were developed. In 2006, the interim Bridging Guidelines for the Performance-based Seismic Retrofit of BC Schools were also created to provide consistent and rational retrofit methodologies for members of Engineers and Geoscientists BC who are undertaking work on seismic assessment and retrofit of BC schools.

The Seismic Retrofit Guidelines, 1st Edition, replaced the interim 2006 Bridging Guidelines. Past versions and the current Seismic Retrofit Guidelines, 2nd Edition, apply the same performance-based methodology used in the 2006 Bridging Guidelines. They additionally include 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 which will allow practitioners to instantly generate seismic resistance criteria for specific types of construction.

For more information on the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines, 2nd Edition, please contact Peter Mitchell, Director, Professional Practice, Standards and Development at or 604.412.4853.

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

The MOE 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 MOE'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 seminars, conducted by Engineers and Geoscientists BC on the current version of the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines:

  • School Seismic Project Identification Reports (SPIR) Training Workshop (April 20, 2012)
  • School Seismic Retrofit Guidelines, 2nd Edition Workshop (November 8, 2013)

Firms with professional engineers on staff, but that have not yet had a professional attend both of these training sessions, can be added to the list if they purchase and view the DVD for each of the two seminars. One of the professional engineers employed by the firm that has viewed the DVDs must then submit written confirmation that they have viewed and are sufficiently familiar with the materials provided in the DVDs. In order to purchase one or both of these DVDs, please contact Tonya Hyde, Professional Development Coordinator, at or 604.412.4861 (toll free 1.888.430.8035 ext. 4861).

Seismic Project Identification Reports (SPIRs) – SPIR Consulting Fee Schedule

To Initiate a New SPIR Project:

  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. Complete the detailed Seismic Project Identification Report Form, and
  4. The completed form is submitted to Phillip Chambers, Manager, Technical Review Board. A TRB panel will be assigned for review of the project SPIR.

The Summary of SPIR Guidelines was issued by the MOE 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 MOE 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, Quality Assurance Programs 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)
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Questions regarding the Engineers and Geoscientists BC Organizational Quality Management Program may be directed to:

Kelly Dayman
Manager, Organizational Quality Management
Phone: 604.639.8184
Toll-free: 1.888.430.8035 ext. 8184

Lina Bowser
Manager, Quality Assurance Programs
Phone: 604.412.4862
Toll-free: 1.888.430.8035 ext. 4862
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