The anti-seismic qualities of structural steel

High level of malleability, resilience, dissipation of energy that other structural materials cannot claim, a constructive process which allows prefabrication and dry construction: these are some of the main characteristics that make steel a structural material perfect for buildings in areas with high seismic risk.

This is demonstrated by the many studies studies on the technical characteristics of steel and by the researches on the effects of the earthquakes on the buildings. Still this is confirmed by the fact that steel is largely diffuse in places where the measure against the earthquake risk are well spread, like Japan and United States. 

The Italian delay in the spread of the awareness about the prevention and the characteristics of the constructive materials can be explained considering that every update of the regulation has come after a tragic event. It is explained, even better, by the fact that the first release of the map of the Italian Seismic risk was put in effect by the National Institute of Geophysics in 2003, less than twenty years ago.

Therefore, though in the last years Italy has taken some steps forward in this regard, a lot of work is still to do to spread the awareness that steel is the perfect choice when it comes to high earthquake proof structural performance either for new construction and for the renovation of buildings. This is true both for private and industrial buildings, but in this last case as a consequence of an earthquake must be considered even the interruption of the economic and productive activity. In this case, more than in the others, the negative effects of an earthquake propagates slowly and last longer. 

There are many studies that underline the inherent characteristics of steel and highlight it as one of the material perfect for structural use. These are confirmed by the many retrospective researches on the damages of the different earthquakes. These researches, indeed, demonstrate that taking advantage of the inherent flexibility of a material that can absorb and dissipate high level of energy is the better choice in areas with a concrete seismic risk. As well explained in this article, then, buildings realized with steel have better resisted to the stress of the earthquake.

In conclusion, the researches on the inherent characteristics of steel and the studies on the effects of the most recent earthquake occurred in Italy, converge to the same conclusion: structural steel is the best choice in terms of anti-seismic prevention, both for the construction of new buildings and for renovation of structures.

It is therefore very important  that every player of the steel industry, from the manufacturer up to  architects and designer, work to spread the awareness of the advantages of the use of structural steel in area with a high seismic risk.