Seismic Resistance

This is a guide to the Seismic Resistance of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) Buildings.

Mandatory Policies

The PSPC RPS Policy Seismic Resistance of PSPC Buildings This link is available only to clients with access to The Source, the PWGSC/PSPC intranet. addresses the issue of seismic (earthquake) resistance of new and existing buildings. The objective is to provide a consistent risk management approach.

New Buildings

New buildings shall be designed and constructed in accordance with the seismic requirements of the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) The WWW icon indicates a link that takes you outside the federal government's common web environment., provincial / territorial building codes, and local bylaws.

Existing Buildings

A seismic screening must be undertaken and the results included in the building's Asset Management Plan This link is available only to clients with access to The Source, the PWGSC/PSPC intranet.. The results are used in the investment analysis planning process on a portfolio-wide basis if greater than 30 or when a significant project is planned.

For buildings that are not yet within the custody of PSPC, a seismic screening shall be completed prior to a final agreement to acquire the facility. Results of the seismic screening will determine the need for a detailed seismic assessment.

  • A detailed seismic assessment is mandatory when
    • Structural Priority Index resulted from the seismic screening is greater than 30 or
    • a "significant" project is being planned for the building. Conditions for qualifying the building as significant are listed in the policy. Generic terms of reference for detailed seismic assessments are given in the policy. Results of the detailed seismic assessment will determine the need for a seismic upgrade.
  • A seismic upgrade is not mandatory if the building structure's seismic resistance meets or exceeds 60% of the seismic load requirement for new building construction as specified by the current NBCC. A seismic upgrade is required when the building structure's seismic resistance does not meet 60% of the NBCC requirements or such upgrade is required to comply fully with current bylaws and provincial / territorial building codes. The optimal level of upgrade shall be based on financial, functional, operational, security, and client requirements. A list of some of these requirements to be considered is given in the policy. Seismic improvements for the main structure and non-structural components shall be considered within the context and scope of the plans for the building as detailed in the Asset Management Plan and in specific Investment Analysis Reports. Innovative and cost effective technologies and approaches to seismic improvements are to be explored. For heritage-designated buildings, the heritage character and value are to be respected and protected.

Generic terms of reference This link is available only to clients with access to The Source, the PWGSC/PSPC intranet. for seismic screenings are given in the policy.


This policy applies to structural and non-structural seismic hazards in crown-owned buildings currently in or to be added to the custody of PSPC. External seismic hazards such as potential failure of service lifelines, ground failures outside the building, and business resumption after an earthquake are not addressed in this policy. Refer to Threat & Risk Assessments for further requirements.

Communities where there are PSPC administered crown-owned buildings are listed in RPS Policy Seismic Resistance of PSPC Buildings - Appendix A This link is available only to clients with access to The Source, the PWGSC/PSPC intranet., with the Effective Seismic Zone rating for the respective community. Existing buildings in zones of moderate to high seismicity, based on the effective seismic zone value, shall require seismic screening.

Relevant Technical Documentation

Non-Structural Building Components

For design and evaluation of non-structural building components (i.e., building contents, bookcases, piping, light fixtures, etc.) refer to the CAN/CSA-S832-06 Seismic Risk Reduction of Operational and Functional Components (OFCs) of Buildings The WWW icon indicates a link that takes you outside the federal government's common web environment.. The Guideline provides information and methodology to identify and evaluate hazards caused by earthquake forces acting on operational and functional components (OFCs) and to undertake appropriate mitigation strategies and techniques.

It is important to note that seismic risk reduction of OFCs is affected by the structural performance of the building, although the Guideline does not address the structural integrity of the building. This CSA Standard S832-06 supersedes the PSPC Guideline on Seismic Evaluation and Upgrading on Non-Structural Building Components.

Project Managers and Designers should note that this is a evolving area. Research is being undertaken by many groups in the public and private sector, in Canada and abroard.

Heritage Masonry

PSPC has developed the Guidelines for the Seismic Assessment of Stone-Masonry Structures to provide technically sound analytical tools and acceptable assessment criteria for the seismic evaluation of stone-masonry structures. The Guidelines for the Seismic Upgrading of Stone-Masonry Structures as companion guidelines specifically for the seismic assessment and upgrading of stone-masonry structures. provide a general understanding of the potential seismic deficiencies of stone-masonry structures, principles of seismic upgrading, and descriptions, cost and effectiveness of existing design concepts and methods for seismic upgrading of stone masonry structures.

Building Structures

The following documents National Research Council documents provide detailed information on the evaluation and upgrading of existing structures for seismic conditions:

Examples of Seismic Works in PSPC

Innovative Upgrade Technology / Materials

  • Esquimalt Graving Dock Pumphouse, Esquimalt, BC - heritage; PALL friction dampers; glass fibre wrap
  • Federal Electronics Research Building, Ottawa, ON - PALL friction dampers
  • Harry Stevens Building, Vancouver, BC - PALL friction dampers
  • Standards Building, Vancouver, BC - glass fibre wrap

Non-Structural Components

  • Installation of restraints in various PSPC offices in BC - office components
  • Esquimalt Graving Dock Pumphouse, Esquimalt, BC - mechnanical and electrical components
  • Shake table testing of bookcases and partition walls, Vancouver, BC, and Montreal, QC - leading-edge research

Heritage Buildings

  • Evaluation of Parliament Building, Ottawa, ON - structural assessment
  • Evaluation of Sinclair Centre, Vancouver, BC - stone cladding assessment; structural assessment


To obtain further information or to contact your regional representative, please contact

Associated Documents

PSPC Policies