Throughout the past few years, we have been hearing clients say they don’t want steel used as the main material for their commercial building, as steel buildings don’t do well in earthquakes. While we understand their concern, since earthquakes have become increasingly common in some regions of our country, we feel it is our obligation to debunk such myths and present the truth.
The Truth about Buildings and Their Resistance to Earthquakes
Until recently, earthquakes were the last thing commercial construction companies and their clients had to worry about. However, they are now part of our reality, and the least we can do is prepare in advance.
Contrary to the existing rumors, at Daniels & Daniels Construction, we know that avoiding steel is no way to prepare. Not only that steel buildings can withstand earthquakes, but they do it better than their concrete alternatives.
We have an innate tendency to consider heavy and rigid objects and materials stronger than they actually are. As a result, we assume that the weight and rigidity of concrete gives the building additional resistance.
This is true when it comes to impacts, to surface forces like that of a truck hitting a wall, or even that of a hurricane, forces threatening to sweep buildings off their foundation. However, earthquakes are different. In their case, the very earth is moving and moves the foundations of buildings with it, as if trying to shake them off its back.
Earthquakes involve such great forces that the building’s weight becomes negligible. In physics, force is calculated as the mass of a body or object multiplied by acceleration. During earthquakes, the mass of the building, instead of increasing resistance, increases the force exerted on the building’s elements and the connections between them. Otherwise put, the heavier the building is the more force it will have to rip itself apart.
Why Use Steel for Your Commercial Construction Projects and How to Do It
Since steel is lighter than concrete, commercial buildings incorporating it will withstand earthquakes better than those built from concrete. Steel is easier to embed into the buildings’ superstructure and into the foundation, lowering construction costs. It also makes a resilient structure due to its ductility and its ability to bend before breaking.
Thus, in case of earthquakes, steel will snap back rather than crack, and suffer deformities rather than collapse. Even if the building requires demolishing, later on, the safety of the occupants during the earthquake is higher in a steel building.
However, steel commercial buildings are not easy to build. It is not rare to hear business owners complaining that they had a great commercial construction design, rendered useless by poor construction management. To avoid such situations, we recommend a commercial construction design-build contract, signed with a company that has several steel projects in its portfolio and an excellent reputation among its customers.
At Daniels & Daniels Construction, we have designed and built numerous commercial buildings using steel as main material, and we’ll be glad to share our experience with you. Call us now at (918) 872-6006, and we will gladly answer your questions and help you make the best decisions for your commercial construction project!