Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on April 15, 2021
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on May 5, 2021
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 16, 2021


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

  • Continuing and expanding the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and similar initiatives. 
  • Advocating for sustained funding for research into all aspects of earthquake hazard mitigation including those that provide better understanding of the phenomenon, site effects, infrastructure performance, functional recovery, and resilience.
  • Using and improving state-of-the-art performance standards for critical facilities essential for the delivery of vital services and for the protection of the community (as defined in FEMA 543 Ch1). 
  • Developing performance-based regional and local seismic standards for critical infrastructure, lifelines, and industrial structures. 
  • Reducing risks of failures in major earthquakes by rehabilitation, mitigation, reconstruction, or demolition.
  • Improving seismic mitigation, with a focus on timely and cost-effective techniques.
  • Advancing performance goals of functional recovery stated in terms of post-earthquake re-occupancy (buildings) and usage (lifeline infrastructure) considering time to re-occupancy and usage following earthquake event.
  • Enhancing overarching risk-mitigation programs at federal, state, and local agencies such as at Departments of Transportation, utility providers, and other organizations including updating all relevant building codes as the base of knowledge advances. 
  • Enhancing methodologies to address multi-hazard scenarios precipitated by earthquakes. 
  • Incorporating collaborative community awareness and preparedness when addressing earthquake hazards.


Earthquakes can be devastating to human life, infrastructure, and the economy. Federal, state, and local programs exist to protect life and property by developing and evolving best practices for seismic design and retrofit of infrastructure and other critical facilities.

NEHRP was created in response to the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 which recognized the threat earthquakes pose and the enormous cost associated with them. NEHRP has provided the resources and leadership that have led to significant advances in understanding the risk earthquakes pose and the best ways to mitigate them. Through NEHRP, the federal government has engaged in seismic monitoring, mapping, research, testing, engineering, supporting code development, mitigation, and emergency preparedness. Although NEHRP is well known for its research programs, it is also the source for hundreds of new technologies, maps, design techniques, and standards that are used by design professionals every day to mitigate hazards and risks. NEHRP is a cost-effective and well-run program that has successfully reduced the risk of earthquakes through the cohesive efforts of four federal agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  


It is in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare as well as economic resilience, to support NEHRP in its development of accepted consensus-based standards for seismic design, construction and retrofit of buildings, lifeline infrastructure and the adoption of these standards in codes and regulations of all legal jurisdictions.

ASCE Policy Statement 390
First Approved in 1992