[About Sandia] [Unique Solutions] [Working With Us] [Contacting Us] [News Center] [Search] [Home] [navigation panel]
News Releases

October 18, 1999

[back to News Releases] [Sandia National Laboratories]

Need for disaster-resistant buildings to be explored at unique technology conference

Aim is to use technology to go beyond current building codes, say organizers

ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- More than two hundred construction industry leaders, emergency management experts, government officials, and scientists will gather in Washington, D.C., later this month to explore how technology can make our homes, shopping malls, offices, public buildings, and infrastructures safer in a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

The meeting Oct. 27-30 at the Georgetown University Conference Center, called "Innovative Technologies for Disaster Mitigation: An Architectural SuretySM Conference," brings together architects, civil engineers, builders, code-enforcement officials, emergency management officials, trade association representatives, academics, and national laboratory researchers to explore ways technology can contribute to catastrophe-resistant structures.

The conference will explore a variety of threats to buildings -- ranging from fires and natural disasters to terrorism -- and includes sessions on topics such as Human Casualty Prediction and Prevention, New Technologies for Disaster Mitigation, Counterterrorism Technologies, and Performance-Based Building Codes.

The meeting is being organized by Sandia National Laboratories (a Department of Energy R&D lab headquartered in Albuquerque) and cosponsored by the American Institute of Architects and the Architectural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), Government Services Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Transportation, and Energy are scheduled to participate.

Members of the news media are invited to the conference's opening session and keynote address by FEMA Director James Lee Witt on Thursday, Oct. 28, at 8:00 a.m. at the Georgetown University Conference Center. Witt and other participants will be available following the session. Other media opportunities include the "Viewpoints" panel discussion on Friday, Oct. 29, at 8:00 a.m. Please contact John German in Sandia's Media Relations office (505-844-5199) if you plan to attend either session.

"In most catastrophes -- such as the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan, Hurricane Floyd in the U.S., and embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania -- most of the victims were injured or killed by the structures themselves," says Rudy Matalucci, a civil engineer at Sandia. "This conference asks builders to look beyond the building codes to explore ways to make structures more resistant to the types of threats they might encounter."

Sandia has for decades applied advanced technology and sound security principles to the exacting task of making U.S. nuclear weapons as safe, secure, and reliable as possible, an expertise lab officials call "surety." The Lab now is working with trade associations, professional institutes, government agencies, and universities to use technology to examine the vulnerabilities of structures and identify potential changes in architectural designs, building codes, and construction standards. Sandia calls the program its Architectural SuretySM initiative. (For more information, see http://www.sandia.gov/media/archsurety.htm).

"We aren't advocating turning buildings into bunkers," says Dennis Miyoshi, director of Sandia's Security Systems and Technology Center. "What we want is for building designers to ask, 'What are the greatest threats to this structure and what can be done about them given the costs?' "

Technology solutions could include improved building materials such as injury-minimizing glass, sensors and testing techniques to gauge a building's structural or environmental health, physical security measures to deter attacks by terrorists or insiders, and risk management tools to examine the costs and benefits of design changes. In addition, modern-day computing and software technologies could help model structural stresses and bomb blast loads on buildings and test building layouts, construction materials, and bracing methods before construction begins, for instance.

The conference begins Thursday, Oct. 28, with an 8 a.m. plenary session and presentation by FEMA Director James Lee Witt, who will discuss his national perspective and FEMA's needs for disaster-mitigation technologies. Sandia Senior VP for National Security Roger Hagengruber and Miyoshi will lay out the principles of "surety" and describe a variety of applicable technologies. (After the session, Witt, Hagengruber, and Miyoshi will be available to talk to reporters.)

On Friday, Oct. 29, at 8 a.m., representatives of the federal government, academia, industry, and professional institutes will discuss the current state, current needs, and future expectations of technology for disaster mitigation in a panel discussion. Please see the conference program at http://www.hcecs.sandia.gov/conferences.htm for more conference highlights. More information about Architectural Surety is available at http://www.sandia.gov/archsur/.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Media contact:
John German, jdgerma@sandia.gov, (505) 844-5199

Back to top of page || Questions and Comments || Acknowledgment and Disclaimer