You are not logged in. Login

Policy Statement 390 - Earthquake Hazards Mitigation

ASCE Policy Statement                                                                                                           390



Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on March 22, 2012
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 4, 2012
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 12, 2012



The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports research, practices and policies that identify earthquake hazards and mitigate earthquake risks, including: 

  • Continuance and expansion of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and similar initiatives;
  • The use of state-of-the-art performance standards for existing critical, essential, educational and disaster-recovery facilities, such as hospitals, schools and emergency shelters;
  • Targeting buildings that are likely to collapse in major earthquakes for mandatory retrofit, reduced occupancy, reconstruction or demolition;
  • Improvements of collaborative community preparedness and their related civil infrastructure with vulnerable regions so that they are economically resilient to earthquake hazards;
  • Development of nationally accepted consensus-based standards for evaluation and retrofit of existing buildings;
  • Development of national seismic standards for new and existing lifelines; 
  • Improvement of seismic mitigation applications focusing on low cost techniques;  
  • Improvement of large risk mitigation programs at organizations, including at state Departments of Transportation, and at utilities; and, 
  • Development of methodologies to assess potential for follow-on hazards.



Earthquakes are among the most devastating of all natural hazards.  NEHRP, enacted in 1977, continues to produce numerous recommendations for standards for new and existing buildings, lifelines and other structures.  Many states and local jurisdictions have not adopted or enforced the latest consensus standards. 


Severe damage caused by earthquakes to buildings and lifelines has been illustrated by recent events in California and elsewhere.  Earthquake occurrence in the United States is not restricted to any single geographical area.  All or parts of 39 states are within zones where there is a moderate-to-high probability of a damaging earthquake.  Recent research indicates that areas in the Pacific Northwest, eastern and central United States are at greater risk of earthquake occurrence than earlier evidence indicated.  It is imperative that officials in all legal jurisdictions have support necessary to carry out programs of adopting state-of-the-art seismic design, construction and retrofit codes and regulations for infrastructure.  

ASCE supports the recommendations included in Managing Risk in Earthquake Country, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and (April 17, 2006) which calls for a three-phased approach to addressing seismic issues.  Included are the development of a culture of preparedness, investment in reducing losses, and steps to ensure resiliency in recovery.   

It is in everyone’s interest to support development of broadly accepted consensus-based standards for seismic design, construction and retrofit of buildings and lifelines and their adoption in codes and regulations of all legal jurisdictions.


ASCE Policy Statement 390 
First Approved in 1992