According to FEMA in the United States nonstructural systems represent 75% of the value of buildings exposed to earthquakes. The partial or full failure of such elements results economic loss.
Among the various nonstructural systems, ceiling-piping-partition systems are widely used in many kinds of buildings and represent a major portion of nonstructural earthquake vulnerability. The project, Simulation of the Seismic Performance of Nonstructural Systems, was awarded after a nationwide competition among universities to conduct a NEES Grand Challenge project, and it will extend for five years.
Ceiling-piping-partition systems consist of several components and subsystems, have complex three-dimensional geometries and complicated boundary conditions because of their multiple attachment points to the main structure, and are spread over large areas in all directions. Their seismic response, their interaction with the structural system they are suspended from or attached to, and their failure mechanisms are not well understood. Moreover, their damage levels and fragilities are poorly defined due to the lack of system-level experimental studies and modeling capability.
Nonstructural Systems: Ceiling-Piping-Partition Systems
Integrated with this experimental effort will be a numerical simulation program that will develop experimentally verified analytical models; establish system and subsystem fragility functions; and, develop visualization tools that will provide engineering educators and practitioners with sketch-based modeling capabilities. Public policy investigations at the building and metropolitan level scales are designed to support the implementation of the research results.