13Structural Design in Data Centers: Natural Disaster Resilience

David Bonneville and Robert Pekelnicky

Degenkolb Engineers, San Francisco, CA, USA

13.1 Introduction

Natural hazards pose special design challenges for buildings that house data centers because of the value and fragility of the contents. Since building codes have as their primary purpose the protection of life safety (occupant safety or public safety), as opposed to business continuity, special structural design consideration is desirable for many data center buildings. This chapter provides an overview of the risks to buildings and contents due to natural hazards and addresses design considerations for critical buildings that may exceed those needed in the typical commercial building.

In the United States, all states currently adopt some edition of the International Building Code (IBC) for the regulation of structural design requirements. The IBC is based on a collection of adopted standards, including a load standard adopted from ASCE/SEI 7-10, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures [1], and various construction material standards, addressing, for example, design requirements for steel, concrete, masonry, and wood. ASCE 7 is primarily intended to provide protection against structural failure, which it does through four sets of performance objectives, known as Risk Categories, discussed in more detail later. Inherent within each of these categories are an assumed probability of failure and a ...

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