Source: Auckland Council
Auckland Council is currently identifying the earthquake risk of council-owned buildings, following new legislation which came into effect last year.
Auckland is classed as being at low-risk of experiencing a moderate earthquake. The legislation requires building owners to make identified earthquake-prone buildings compliant within a 35-year time period. For heritage buildings, this stretches to 45 years.
Council has both a regulatory role – to implement the requirements of the Act via our Building Consents team – and a responsibility as a building owner to review council’s portfolio of around 2000 buildings and structures across the region, says Auckland Council Chief Operating Officer Dean Kimpton.
“We are undertaking detailed seismic risk assessments and have completed the first 59 of these.
“We are currently prioritising buildings known to be most at risk and conducting detailed assessments and expect to have this work completed by 2021,” he says.
Under the act, anything assessed at being under 34 per cent of new building standard is regarded as earthquake-prone and requires a sticker to be affixed to the building.
Two have gone up so far: two at toilet blocks (in Sandringham Road reserve and Bellwood Avenue, Mt Eden) and at the Victoria Theatre in Devonport.
Five more buildings received stickers today. These are the Grey Lynn Library and Community Hall, Leys Institute Gymnasium on St Marys Road, Leys Institute Library & Community Hall, Studio One Toi Tū Ponsonby Road, and a toilet block on Great North Road.
Mr Kimpton says the safety of staff and the public is council’s main priority.
“I want to reassure Aucklanders that just because a building is deemed earthquake-prone under the legislation, it does not make it unsafe. We are not currently planning on closing any council-owned buildings solely as a result of a seismic assessment. Our buildings remain open for business to serve our communities.
“This morning we visited staff in the affected buildings and explained the background to the stickers and what they mean,” Mr Kimpton says.
“However, work will be required to get the affected buildings up to code. In Auckland (where we experience a very low frequency of earthquakes) we have 35 years to do this – for heritage buildings, we have 45 years to do so.”
We will be addressing any non-structural elements that may contribute to risk in a seismic event or at any other time. This may mean some changes to a building’s layout. Examples include exterior parapets, chimneys and awnings; and interior elements like air-conditioning units, ceilings and stairs. This work will be prioritised according to risk, building use and the impact on building users.
Staff training programmes will be implemented at affected buildings, advising on appropriate earthquake and emergency response.
More information on earthquake-prone buildings and the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 is available on council’s website.