Natural Disasters - Moving Toward Improved Resilience

Full Session with Abstracts

340312-2 - A Framework for Quantifying Social, Economic, and Environmental Sustainability of Hazard Mitigation Policies

Saturday, April 21
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Location: 201A

Sustainability has been increasingly investigated by researchers, particularly in engineering and architecture, over the past two decades. There are three broad categories that must be considered for sustainable decisions and actions: environmental considerations, economic considerations, and social considerations, leading to the well-known three pillars of sustainability. In research and in practice, actions and the outcomes of decisions are weighed in their sustainability through life-cycle assessments. Considering what the initial costs are, the costs during the lifetime of the decision, and the post-lifetime costs. Many researchers have made tremendous advancements in our ability to quantify various environmental impacts, and economic costs. More recently, researchers have begun exploring the environmental impacts, and damage, repair, and retrofit costs across the life cycle with hazard considerations. A very limited amount of work has been performed on evaluating social costs. Social costs are critical. This is especially true for vulnerable populations who so often experience the greatest level of disruption and destruction during natural hazard induced disasters, and who are also most often the ones most negatively affected by policy decisions, particularly those related to disasters. The present work presents a probabilistic framework for quantifying all three pillars of sustainability. The framework captures the needed measures of even the most socially vulnerable populations which are so often overlooked in such analyses and decisions. There are many measures of social costs that need to be quantified and included in engineering analyses and related policy decisions in addition to the commonly included measure of casualties. In practice, cost-benefit analyses are conducted to determine whether a policy is feasible. Social costs and social benefits are critical to include at a level more representative to actuality than only a casualty estimate. Preliminary estimates of additional social measures are provided. The framework also extends the economic costs to longer term projections with additional indirect costs that are evident post-disaster. The framework, and preliminary measures from all three pillars of sustainability, are exemplified in a case study of the San Francisco soft-story retrofit mandate.

Elaina J. Sutley

Assistant Professor
University of Kansas

Dr. Elaina J. Sutley is an Assistant Professor in Structural Engineering at the University of Kansas. Dr. Sutley's research is at the nexus of structural engineering, social science, and public policy, with an emphasis on the exposure of wood buildings and housing to natural hazards. She actively develops interdisciplinary approaches to assess disaster mitigation, predict losses, and model recovery. Recently, Dr. Sutley led a multi-disciplinary recovery-based reconnaissance study in Lumberton, NC to study what comes after the initial damage of a disaster. Dr. Sutley is the Chair of the SEI Design of Wood Structures Committee, the Balloteer of the ASCE 7 Wind Load Subcommittee, and a Member of the SEI Performance of Wood Structures Committee and SEI Multi-Hazard Mitigation Committee.

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