Wellington Scoop

Seismic upgrades present new opportunities for investors

Press Release – Miyamoto Impact
A global earthquake-engineering expert says new seismic requirements outlined in proposed legislation could present new opportunities for business investors. An internationally recognised industry expert, specialising in high-performance earthquake engineering, disaster mitigation and reconstruction, Dr. Miyamoto of Miyamoto Impact is the keynote speaker at the first of a series of Property Council seminars, to be held in Wellington on 20 March.

A second event will be held on 21 March in Hawke’s Bay, with further events planned for Auckland and Christchurch in late April and early May.

Renowned for innovative engineering and experience in earthquake zones around the world, Dr. Miyamoto says the industry needs to take a new approach to make it more affordable for property owners to meet the new earthquake strengthening standards.

“New Zealand needs to seriously consider the need to seismically upgrade building stock in an economically feasible way,” says Dr. Miyamoto.

“The Government’s initiative to tighten building standards is absolutely the right thing to do, but there will be landlords who will struggle to find the funds to afford the upgrade.

“We need to devise an action plan that achieves the right balance, and get on with the work for our buildings that do not meet an acceptable standard, as well as new construction.

“The economic viability of industrial and commercial buildings nationwide rests on turning seismic requirements into opportunities.”

As part of the Wellington seminar, case studies of cost-effective and commercially viable seismic strengthening projects will be discussed. These include a Christchurch City Council heritage building – Cashmere Hills Presbyterian Church, the Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington’s ‘Project Stronger’, a six-storey Hereford Street building in Christchurch’s red zone, and Napier’s Co-operative Bank building.

International examples will also be presented, including the California Unreinforced Masonry (URM) ordinance and a high tech approach in Asia and Americas. Dr. Miyamoto will also discuss public and commercial projects led by the Miyamoto team, such as the University Gateway at the University of Southern California and the seismic risk management of the Los Angeles World Airports.

Dr. Miyamoto says it is imperative that any change in seismic requirements also addresses concern around return on investment, financing and insurance for building owners.

“With proposed legislation requiring buildings that fail a seismic test be strengthened or demolished, we need to look at ways that owners and investors can manage their asset, meet the new standards and protect their buildings,” says Dr. Miyamoto.

“The Canterbury earthquakes have prioritised earthquake strengthening in New Zealand, but the seismic dilemma is not new. By looking at global solutions, we are able to make the most of lessons learned in earthquake-prone regions around the world.

“There are various options that have worked abroad that have enabled investors to bring buildings up to requirements, while helping to manage the economic cost. Some of these have been Government-led, but many are examples of building owners and industry working together successfully to take a cost-effective, proactive approach.”

The Wellington event will be held on 20 March at Foxglove Bar and Kitchen, 33 Queens Wharf, Wellington.

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