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Estimating Structural Seismic Retrofit Costs for Federal Buildings



Juan F. Fung, David T. Butry, Siamak Sattar, Steven L. McCabe


In NIST TN 1973 [1], we develop a methodology for estimating seismic retrofit costs. The general approach is to build a predictive model of seismic retrofit costs that (1) captures the essential factors that drive costs, such as building construction type and square footage; and (2) is reproducible using data available to decision makers.

In this report, we apply the methodology to generate retrofit cost predictions for typical federal buildings. Typical federal buildings are meant to be statistically representative of the federal building inventory, but are not actual federal buildings. Our results suggest that retrofitting an entire typical building inventory for life safety will cost about \$20 billion. The caveat is that our model only predicts structural mitigation costs. Other construction costs, as well as non-structural mitigation costs, can easily increase the total cost.

Presidential Executive Order 13717 (EO 13717), Establishing a Federal Earthquake Risk Management Standard, encourages federal agencies to "enhance resilience...[to] future earthquakes" by evaluating and retrofitting existing federal buildings based on current existing building codes. This report, together with NIST TN 1973 [1], provides a roadmap for building owners to quickly approximate expected seismic retrofit costs.

Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1996
Report Number


economics, earthquake, seismic, retrofit, resilience


Fung, J. , Butry, D. , Sattar, S. and McCabe, S. (2018), Estimating Structural Seismic Retrofit Costs for Federal Buildings, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 20, 2024)
Created June 14, 2018, Updated November 10, 2018