In my last blog post, I talked about ongoing research to make steel even stronger. In this country, we are lucky that building standards have required structural engineering plans that involve steel and that those standards are enforced. During our short history as a nation, we have learned many lessons from natural disasters and other events that have tested the integrity of our city buildings and infrastures. And, although we can’t make structures indestructible, we take what we learn from every event and try to improve upon what we rebuild.
The advantages of incorporating steel in structures was underscored with recent events again, as the sad news of the devastating earthquake in Turkey made its way around the globe. The country suffered a 7.2 earthquake over a decade ago and rebuilt, only to watch many buildings crumble again as another quake struck recently. Many of the structures hardest hit were built before the improved standards imposed in 2001. But many new structures also crumbled. Mehmet Sogancz, the director of the Chamber of Engineers and Architects, surveyed the damage in the city of Van. He was saddened to see that structural requirements hadn’t “progressed more than an inch since 1999.” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan echoed the engineer’s sentiments by noting “the material used is of bad quality… Municipalities, constructors and supervisors should now see that their negligence amounts to murder.”
Many around the world know the long-term costs of cutting engineering corners. And we can sometimes get away with it. But even in this country, we recently saw the devastating effects of having chosen to no longer incorporate basements and backyard storm shelters in tornado-prone areas. The price for cutting corners to construct cheaper structures more quickly resulted in the loss of life.
The promise of steel is incredible. It can withstand the elements and the passing of time like no other building material. It makes structures stronger and safer. And it’s a material that can be recycled over and over again. And although we are no match for what Mother Nature can dish out, solidly engineered and built structures can protect lives. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this terrible earthquake in Turkey. And we at Powerbilt wish them strength and courage as they find better ways to rebuild.