GEM Building Taxonomy (Version 2.0)

GEM Technical Report 2013-02
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This report documents the development and applications of the Building Taxonomy for the Global Earthquake Model (GEM). The purpose of the GEM Building Taxonomy is to describe and classify buildings in a uniform manner as a key step towards assessing their seismic risk, Criteria for development of the GEM Building Taxonomy were that the Taxonomy be relevant to seismic performance of different construction types; be comprehensive yet simple; be collapsible; adhere to principles that are familiar to the range of users; and ultimately be extensible to non-buildings and other hazards. The taxonomy was developed in conjunction with other GEM researchers and builds on the knowledge base from other taxonomies, including the EERI and IAEE World Housing Encyclopedia, PAGER-STR, and HAZUS.

The taxonomy is organized as a series of expandable tables, which contain information pertaining to various building attributes. Each attribute describes a specific characteristic of an individual building or a class of buildings that could potentially affect their seismic performance. The following 13 attributes have been included in the GEM Building Taxonomy Version 2.0 (v2.0): 1.) direction, 2.)material of the lateral load-resisting system, 3.) lateral load-resisting system, 4.) height, 5.) date of construction of retrofit, 6.) occupancy, 7.) building position within a block, 8.) shape of the building plan, 9.) structural irregularity, 10.) exterior walls, 11.) roof, 12.) floor, 13.) foundation system.

The report illustrates the pratical use of the GEM Building Taxonomy by discussing example case studies, in which the building-specific characteristics are mapped directly using GEM taxonomic attributes and the corresponding taxonomic string is constructed for that building, with "/" slash marks separating attributes. For example, for the building shown to the right, the GEM Taxonomy string is:




which can be read as (1) Direction = [DX or DY] (the building has the same lateral load-resisting system in both directions); (2) Material = [Unreinforced Masonry + solid fired clay bricks + cement: lime mortar]; (3) Lateral Load-Resisting System = [Wall]; (4) Date of construction = [pre-1939]; (5) Heaight = [exactly 2 storeys]; (6) Occupancy = [residential, unknown type]; (7) Building Position = [unknown = no entry]; (8) Shape of building plan = [unknown = no entry]; (9) Structural irregularity = [regular]; (10) Exterior walls = [unknown = no entry]; (11) Roof = [Shape: pitched and hipped, Roof covering: clay tiles, Roof system material: wood, Roof system type: wood trusses]; (12) Floor = [Floor system: Wood, unknown]; (13) Foundation = [unknown = no entry].

Mapping of GEM Building Taxonomy to selected taxonomies is included in the report -- for example, the above building would be referenced by previous structural taxonomies as: PAGER-STR as UFB or UFB4, by the World Housing Encyclopedia as 7 or 8 and by the European Macroseismic Scale (98) as M5. The Building Taxonomy data model is highly flexible and has been incorporated within a relational database architecture. Due to its ability to represent building typologies using a shorthand form, it is also possible to use the taxonomy for non-database applications, and we discuss possible application of adaptation for Building Information Modelling (BIM) systems, and for the insurance industry.

The GEM Building Taxonomy was independently evaluated and tested by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), which received 217 TaxT reports from 49 countries, representing a wide range of building typologies, including single and multi-storey buildings, reinforced and unreinforced masonry, confined masonry, concrete, steel, wood, and earthern buildings used for residential, commercial, industrial, and educational occupancy. Based on these submissions and other feedback, the EERI team validated that the GEM Building Taxonomy is highly functional, robust and able to describe different buildings around the world.

The GEM Building Taxonomy is accompanied by supplementary resources. All terms have been explained in a companion online Glossary, which provides both text and graphic descriptions. The Taxonomy is accompanied by TaxT, a computer application that enables a user record information about a building or a building typology using the attributes of the GEM Building Taxonomy v2.0. TaxT can generate a taxonomy string and enable a user to generate a report in PDF format which summarizes the attribute values (s)he has chosen as representative of the building typology under consideration.

The report concludes with recommendations for future development of the GEM Building Taxonomy. Appendices provide the detailed GEM Building Taxonomy tables and additional resource, as well as mappings to other taxonomies.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title GEM Building Taxonomy (Version 2.0)
Series title GEM Technical Report
Series number 2013-02
Edition Version 1.0
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher GEM Foundation
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description xiii, 163 p.
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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