California hospitals have gotten a reprieve on upcoming seismic safety deadlines, potentially saving them $4 billion in construction costs.
A state commission ruled unanimously that hospitals could use new computer software, called HAZUSshort for Hazards U.S.to more accurately assess how vulnerable their buildings are to collapse or damage during an earthquake than previous estimates.
Developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, HAZUS calculates risk in a variety of natural disasters. The California agency that oversees the hospital construction projects, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, has set guidelines for the softwares use.
The agency estimates that 50% to 60% of 1,110 hospital buildings statewide required to meet a seismic-safety deadline of 2013 could be reclassified at a lower risk of collapse and not need to be rebuilt until 2030. The rest of the buildings will still need to meet the 2013 deadline or face closure, and many of those construction efforts are already under way or completed. The total cost of hospital reconstruction in the state, paid for by the hospitals, could reach $110 billion.