Retrofit Magazine shared the following major construction safety news announcement:

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) has voted to adopt the Iron Workers (IW) safety standard updates for reinforcing steel and post-tensioning activities. California is the first state-approved OSHA plan to work with the IW to reform existing safety standards. The IW Safety and Health Department has been working with the IW Department of Reinforcing Steel and industry stakeholders such as the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI), National Association of Reinforcing Steel Contractors (NARSC), Post-Tensioning Institute (PTI)and the Western Steel Council (WSC) to reform existing standards since 2010.

In 2013, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) updated its A10.9 Concrete and Masonry standard to reflect reforms the IW Safety and Health Department and the industry stakeholders proposed. As part of the 2017 ZERO Incident Campaign commissioned by the IW General President Eric Dean, the IW Safety and Health Department is pursuing updates to the 1971 federal OSHA standard to prevent incidents and fatalities. It continues to pursue new reinforcing steel and post-tensioning standards in other state-approved OSHA plans throughout the country.

Iron Workers International is applying pressure to update federal safety guidelines that date back to the early 70s, that it feels are outdated. Accordingly, the organization cites a direct relationship between lax safety regulations/enforcement and injuries.

Specifically, the 1971 OSHA standards fail to address modern methods of steel reinforcement erection and post-tensioning.

The new California safety standards are due to go in effect beginning in January of 2018.

[Via: Construction Dive]

According to Rong-Gong Lin II, Raoul Rañoa and Jon Schleuss of the LA Times, the city of Santa Monica is considering a mandated seismic retrofit program:

Santa Monica’s safety rules would go beyond what Los Angeles has done by requiring not only wood-frame apartments and concrete buildings to be retrofitted, but also steel-frame structures.

The ordinance would require the owners of more than 2,000 buildings identified by the city to conduct a seismic evaluation, and, if needed, have the buildings retrofitted.

For the ordinance to be approved, the City Council will need to pass the law a second time in the next month. If the measure receives that affirmation, the proposal will become law 30 days later.

West Hollywood and Beverly Hills are also considering similar measures. In the city of Los Angeles, over 13,000 buildings of an estimated 15,000 buildings have already been identified as needing retrofit and work is currently ongoing.

In Santa Monica, 1,700 of the 2,000 buildings listed are wood framed. The remainder are primarily brick, with about 60 or so buildings made of non-ductile or brittle concrete, lacking sufficient steel reinforcement to resist seismic forces.

With now close to 20,000 buildings required to undergo seismic retrofitting, the LA basin seems to be opening one ginormous can of worms.

Researchers at Stanford are pleased to report the following:

Thousands of miles of buried optical fibers crisscross California’s San Francisco Bay Area delivering high-speed internet and HD video to homes and businesses.

Biondo Biondi, a professor of geophysics at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, dreams of turning that dense network into an inexpensive “billion sensors” observatory for continuously monitoring and studying earthquakes.

Map shows location of a 3-mile, figure-8 loop of optical fibers installed beneath the Stanford campus as part of the fiber optic seismic observatory. Over the past year, Biondi’s group has shown that it’s possible to convert the jiggles of perturbed optical fiber strands into information about the direction and magnitude of seismic events.

In other words, our existing fiber optic infrastructure(s) can be utilized as an advanced seismographic monitoring network increasing both the quantity and quality of data available to researchers. The ultimate goal for this specific team is the development and implementation of a Bay-area wide mesh network for monitoring seismic activity in realtime.

San Diego’s Building Industry Association played host to an outstanding and dynamic presentation earlier this morning on the topic of energy and the 2016 California building codes that went into effect at the beginning of this year.

The panelists included a great mix of building professionals and thought leaders that don’t merely speculate on the impact of green building — they live it:

(more…)

When the Oroville Dam failed earlier this year, it prompted a review of numerous major infrastructure projects throughout California. The news is not good, as it is clear that many billions of dollars of tax-funded projects were designed and constructed to withstand significant seismic events. That’s because we’ve learned that our previous codes and standards were too lax.

A preliminary report reviewing the failure of the Oroville site specifically shows that even the less stringent codes and standards or yesteryear were not adhered to. According to Steve Schooner of the Chico Enterprise-Record:

The result was a spillway as thin as 7 inches in places, much of it built on rock that was not sound enough for anchors driven into it to hold the concrete slabs in place.

The concrete was prone to crack in the thin spots, letting more water though the concrete than the drainage system was built to handle. The drainage system was designed just to carry away groundwater seepage, according to John France, leader of the forensic team, who spoke to reporters during a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

Repairs were also faulted as “generally limited in extent, rather than designed to reliably and durably withstand high-velocity flows.”

The truly scary part: Oroville’s situation is far from resolved, and (based on inside information I have access to) there isn’t a ton of confidence that the fix proposed will adequately address the issues.

David Kravets, writing for Ars Technica:

A judge on Thursday declared as unconstitutional a local Wisconsin ordinance mandating that the makers of augmented reality games get special use permits if their mobile apps were to be played in county parks. The law—the nation’s first of its kind—was challenged on First Amendment grounds amid concerns it amounted to a prior restraint of a game maker’s speech. What’s more, the law was seemingly impossible to comply with.

The federal lawsuit was brought by a Southern California company named Candy Lab. The maker of Texas Rope ‘Em—an augmented reality game with features like Pokemon Go—sued Milwaukee County after it adopted an AR ordinance in February in the wake of the Pokemon Gocraze. Because some of its parks were overrun by a deluge of players, the county began requiring AR makers to get a permit before their apps could be used in county parks.

The permitting process also demanded that developers perform the impossible: estimate crowd size, event dates, and the times when mobile gamers would be playing inside county parks. The permits, which cost as much as $1,000, also required that developers describe plans for garbage collection, bathroom use, on-site security, and medical services. Without meeting those requirements, augmented reality publishers would be in violation of the ordinance if they published games that included playtime in Milwaukee County parks.

Central to its position, Milwaukee County tried to argue that Augmented Reality apps were not protected by the First Amendment. Why?

Because according to the county, the game “does not convey any messages or ideas. Unlike books, movies, music, plays and video games—mediums of expression that typically enjoy First Amendment protection—Texas Rope ‘Em has no plot, no storylines, no characters, and no dialogue. All it conveys is a random display of cards and a map.”

This is a preliminary injunction, and ultimately the matter will be determined in trial, currently not calendared until April of next year.

As California continues the transition to renewable energy, practical issues sometimes create unforeseen complications. One example: California requires that ALL residential buildings constructed after January 1, 2020 produce at least as much energy as they used. By 2030, all new nonresidential buildings must meet zero net energy requirements.

Additionally, the state is requiring that 50% of existing nonresidential buildings meet the zero net energy requirements by 2030, although some details obviously need to be worked out as far as deciding which 50% of those buildings must comply. (more…)

According to J.K. Dineen at the SF Chronicle:

With five months to go before a Sept. 15 deadline to pull permits for the work, owners of nearly 52 percent of “tier three” buildings — wood-frame structures of between five and 15 units — have yet to submit permit applications. That’s the first step in the process needed to comply with the city’s 2013 mandatory soft-story law, which targets buildings susceptible to collapse in an earthquake.

Out of 3,526 buildings in the category, 1,693 have filed for permits, while 1,834 have not, said Department of Building Inspection Director Tom Hui. Hui said he is surprised at how many property owners have ignored the call to bring their buildings into compliance, given the monthly mailed notices and publicity around the program.

“They have had plenty of time to respond,” Hui said. “It’s for public safety. We just want them to comply and protect themselves, the tenant and the public. Earthquakes are not predictable — one could happen this afternoon.”

The clock is ticking!

With 1.4-million square feet of habitable space, spread out among 61 floors, the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco is projected to be the tallest building “West of the Mississippi” topping out at 1,070 feet above ground.

(It should be noted that while the top of the spire at the Wilshire Grand in LA will reach 1,099 feet, Salesforce will still have the highest occupied floor at 970 feet. Until, of course, some third building is erected to surpass both of the former…) (more…)

During the tail end of my junior year of high school, my family and I temporarily relocated to Southwest Missouri.

We were fleeing the cratering of the entire construction industry in Southern California, hoping to catch the extraordinary boom in construction taking place surrounding Branson. Although the school year only had a few weeks left, I transferred to the local high school in an attempt at full immersion.

I kid you not, at least once a day while living and attending school in Missouri, someone would ask me about all the earthquakes in California. Students and teachers alike were astounded that people (in their minds) put their lives on the line daily, not knowing when the next rumbling of the earth would occur spelling certain destruction.

I on the other hand was shocked at how easily the locals could accept the likelihood of tornados, and listened in amazement to stories people told of their near misses and lost property caused by weather.

Which is why the latest report from the US Geological Survey is so mind-blowing. The LA Times has more:

The earthquake risk for Oklahoma and southern Kansas is expected to remain significant in 2017, threatening 3 million people with seismic events that can produce damaging shaking, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey forecast released Wednesday.

The seismic risk is forecast to be so high that the chance of damage in Oklahoma and southern Kansas is expected to be similar to that of natural earthquakes in California, USGS scientists writing in the journal Seismological Research Letters said Wednesday.

The cause for the dramatic uptick in seismic activity in the Midwest?

The earthquakes are thought to be the result of disposal of wastewater deep underground following fracking, a method to extract petroleum. Injecting wastewater deep underground is not thought to trigger earthquakes everywhere — in North Dakota, for example — but is widely believed by scientists to be a problem in Oklahoma.