Built according to good practices, concrete homes can be among the safest and most durable types of structures during an earthquake. Homes built with reinforced concrete walls have a record of surviving earthquakes intact, structurally sound and largely unblemished. Concrete walls include insulating concrete froms (ICFs), cast-in-place, precast or tilt-up.
In reinforced concrete construction, the combination of concrete and steel provides the three most important properties for earthquake resistance: stiffness, strength, and ductility.
WHY BUILDINGS SURVIVE
Engineers and scientists study damage from earthquakes to determine what types of buildings best withstand seismic forces.
Studies of earthquake damage consistently show well-anchored shear walls are a key to earthquake resistance in low-rise buildings.
Optimal design conditions include shear walls that extend the entire height and located on all four sides of a building. Long walls are stronger than short walls, and solid walls are better than ones with a lot of openings for windows and doors. These elements are designed to survive severe sideways (in-plane) forces, called racking and shear, without being damaged or bent far out of position. Shear walls also must be well anchored to the foundation structure to work effectively. Properly installed steel reinforcing bars extend across the joint between the walls and the foundation to provide secure anchorage to the foundation.