Seismically vulnerable buildings can remain occupied - MBIE

Newly published guidance reveals that most earthquake vulnerable buildings are not imminently dangerous and can remain occupied while remediation work is underway.

The guidance from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) highlights how risks can be mitigated through emergency planning and training as well as restraining plant, services and contents within the building.

Buildings such as the Wellington City Library, Hutt Hospital and Mātauranga House that were left unoccupied had drawn attention to the need to improve guidance around seismically vulnerable buildings.

A Ministry of Education spokesperson said the decision to vacate Mātauranga House was made after receiving a targeted seismic assessment and health and safety assessment.

"Earlier this month, we commissioned our engineers to carry out a detailed seismic assessment (DSA), and the landlord has advised their engineers will do the same.

"The findings of those assessments once completed, alongside the guidance released today by MBIE, will be considered in due course."

MBIE’s manager building performance and engineering Dr Dave Gittings says these events highlighted the importance of having thorough guidelines to help building owners.

"Guidance on how to interpret seismic assessments in order to make informed risk-based decisions about occupancy and remediation work is important," said Gittings.

Seismic assessments are used to encourage the strengthening of vulnerable buildings for the safety of our communities, he says.

"It’s important that decisions on these are well informed and remediation work well planned so that the needs of our communities can continue to be met and the risks managed, while we work to reduce the impact of future earthquakes."