Seismic actions on acceleration sensitive non-structural components in ductile frames

  • S. R. Uma GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
  • John X. Zhao GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
  • Andrew B. King GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand


Earthquake loadings standard NZS 1170.5:2004 has introduced new provisions for the design of building parts and non-structural components. The provisions include factors to define peak floor acceleration up the height of a building, and acceleration response amplifications for components that are quite different from overseas counterparts. In this study, acceleration demands on non-structural components located in ductile frame buildings are analysed under earthquake records from crustal and slab events, for design levels representing ultimate limit state and serviceability limit state.

A floor response spectra approach is used to study the demands on non-structural components. It is noted that the peak floor acceleration demands with respect to that of the ground are not amplified up the height of the building to the extent suggested in NZS provisions. The floor response spectra show peaks near the modal periods of the building indicating higher demands on the components with periods closer to the building period. However, NZS provisions fail to include this effect, since the spectral response amplification is defined independent of building period. Spectral demands exceed the NZS provisions at the fundamental periods of the buildings, more significantly at serviceability conditions, indicating potential failure of non-structural components with periods close to the building periods.

Following the analytical observations from the buildings considered in this study it is clear that the design provisions for non-structural components should be linked to the structural response for specific performance levels rather than the ‘life-safety’ performance level only that is currently adopted in the New Zealand design standard.


Taghavi, S. and Miranda, E., 2003. Response assessment of non-structural building elements. PEER Report 2003/05, The Pacific Engineering Research Center: Berkeley, CA.

Filiatrault, A., Uang, C.M., Folz, B., Constantin Christopoulos, C. Gatto, K., 2001. Reconnaissance report of Nisqually (Seattle-Olympia) February 28, 2001 Earthquake. Report No. SSRP-2001/2002, March 2001.

Villaverde, R., 1997. Seismic design of secondary structures: State of the Art. Journal of Structural Engineering, ASCE, 123 (8), pp. 1011-1019. DOI:

Filiatrault, A., Christopoulos, C. and Stearns, C., 2002. Guidelines, specifications, and seismic performance characterization of non-structural building components and Equipment. PEER Report 2002/05. Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center. pp 108.

Toro, G.R., McGuire, R.K., Cornell, C.A., Sewell, R.T., 1989. Linear and nonlinear response of structures and equipment to California and Eastern United States earthquakes. Report NP-5566. Palo Alto (CA): Electric Power Research Institute.

Schroeder, M.E., and Bachman, R.E., 1994. Analytical studies in support of the 1994 NEHRP provisions for non-structural components. Proceedings, 5th U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Vol. 4, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Oakland, California., pp. 755-764.

Rodriguez, M.E., Restrepo, J.I., Carr, A.J., 2001. Earthquake-induced floor horizontal accelerations in buildings. Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics. 31(3):693–718. DOI:

Chaudhuri, S.R. and Villaverde, R., 2008. Effect of building non-linearity on seismic response of non-structural components: A parametric study. Journal of structural engineering, ASCE, April, pp.661-670. DOI:

Medina, R.A., Shankaranarayanan, R. and Kingston, K. M., 2006. Floor response spectra for light components mounted on regular moment resisting frames. Engineering Structures. 28, 1927-1940. DOI:

Adam, C., 2001. Dynamics of elastic–plastic shear frames with secondary structures: Shake table and numerical studies. Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics, 30(2):257–77. DOI:<257::AID-EQE7>3.0.CO;2-J

Sewell, R.T., Cornell, C.A., Toro, G.R., McGuire, R.K., 1986. A study of factors influencing floor response spectra in nonlinear multi-degree-of-freedom structures. JABEEC Report no. 82. Palo Alto (CA): Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University.

Dowell, R.K., Smith, J.W., Hutchinson, T.C., 2008. Floor and attached component seismic amplification factors from nonlinear time-history analysis, 14WCEE, October 11-15, Beijing, Paper No: S20-031.

Uma, S.R., Zhao, J.X. and King, A.B., 2009. Floor response spectra for buildings under ultimate and serviceability limit states. Proceedings of the ASCE-SEI 2009 Structures Congress, April 30 - May 2, 2009, Austin, Texas, Paper No. 064, pp. 577-586. DOI:

NZS 1170.5:2004. Structural Design Actions Part 5: Earthquake Actions- New Zealand. Standards New Zealand, New Zealand.

International Code Council (ICC) 2003. International building code, IBC2003, Falls Church (VA).

SEI/ASCE-02. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Minimum design loads for buildings and other structures. SEI/ASCE Standard no. 7-02: Reston (VA)

Soong, T.T., Shen, G., Wu, Z., Zhang, R.H., Grigoriu, M.,1993. Assessment of the 1991 NEHRP provisions for non-structural components and recommended revisions. Report NCEER-93-0003, National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, Buffalo, NY.

Drake, R.M., Bachman, R.E., 1995. Interpretation of instrumented building seismic data and implications for building codes. In Proceedings of the 64th Annual Convention, Structural Engineers Association of California, Sacramento; 333–344.

Freeman, S.A. and Kehoe, B., 1997. Review of Proposed Design Accelerations for Nonstructural Elements. Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Tall Buildings in Seismic Regions, Los Angeles Tall Buildings Structural Design Council and Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Los Angeles, CA.

Kehoe, B.E. and Freeman, S.A., 1998. A critique of procedures for calculating seismic design forces for non-structural elements. In Seminar on Seismic Design, Retrofit, and Performance of Nonstructural Components, ATC-29-1, Applied Technology Council, Redwood City, CA.

Marsantyo, R., Shimazu, T. and Araki, H., 2000. Dynamic Response of Nonstructural Systems Mounted on Floors of Buildings, Proceedings of the 12th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Paper No. 1872, Auckland, New Zealand.

Shelton, R., 2004. Seismic response of building parts and non-structural components. Study Report, BRANZ, New Zealand.

NZS 4203:1992. General structural loadings and design loadings for buildings. Standards New Zealand, New Zealand.

HAZUS99, Technical Manual, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, DC, USA.

SAP2000 (version 12). Integrated software of structural analysis and design. Computers and Structures, Inc. Berkeley, California.

Zhao, J.X., 1998. The estimation of structural modal parameters from the responses of the Gisborne Post Office building in recent earthquakes. Bulletin of the New Zealand National Society for Earthquake Engineering, 31, 51-63.

FEMA 450. 2003. NEHRP Recommended Provisions for Seismic Regulations for New Buildings and Other Structures. Federal Emergency Management Agency.

NZS 4219:2009. Seismic performance of engineering systems in buildings. Standards New Zealand, New Zealand

How to Cite
Uma, S. R., Zhao, J. X., & King, A. B. (2010). Seismic actions on acceleration sensitive non-structural components in ductile frames. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 43(2), 110-125.