unreinforced masonry buildings have
been retrofitted or demolished since
1991, according to Berkeley’s Local
Hazard Mitigation Plan.
According to a 1996 survey, more
than 400 soft-story buildings were
located in Berkeley, and all soft-story
buildings with five or more units have
to be retrofitted by 2018. Automatic
gas shut-off valves are installed in
potential hazardous soft, weak or
open front buildings—wood-framed
multistory buildings with first floors
that have large openings where a
shear wall would normally be—that
have gas piping.
To encourage building owners to
strengthen their buildings, Berkeley
has distributed more than $9 million
through a tax rebate program that
reduces the real estate transfer tax to
building owners who perform seismic
safety work, according to Berkeley’s
Local Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Other resiliency strategies
include stringent building codes
supplemented by green building
policies. All large commercial and
new residential projects includ-
ing multifamily developments must
achieve a certain number of points
on a Green Building Checklist that
offers solutions such as rain screen
wall systems, vegetative roofs and
fire-resistant roofs. Berkeley requires
new buildings and additions in its
downtown area to receive LEED Gold
certification or an equivalent.
The measures aim to reduce buildings’ energy and water use as part
of Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan,
which mandates the city must reduce
its greenhouse gas emissions by 33%
by 2020 and by 80% by 2050.
Berkeley is also planning for
when disaster or a disruption does
strike. The city is expected to complete a microgrid to provide clean
backup power to the downtown area,
Burroughs said. The microgrid would
aggregate and share clean energy from
solar and energy storage batteries and
other distributed energy resources
during peak periods. It would go into
island mode when needed, he said.
The microgrid would advance energy
reliability and improve public and private access to clean energy. It would
also free up more critical functions of
diesel—a traditional backup power
source—in times of need such as for
fuel for emergency vehicles, he said.
Rolling Hills, Rising Seas
Earthquakes and floods in
California. An earthquake roaring
through a neighboring city in 1906
and a fire turning the city’s university and downtown to ash in 1923
have taught Berkeley, Calif., the
challenges of disasters. The city lies
along the San Francisco Bay and is
threatened by potential perils such
as: earthquakes, extreme storms,
wind-driven fire and rising sea levels.
Berkeley is seeing more flooding,
especially in one neighborhood near
the bay, West Berkeley (also discussed on Page 6) where many of the
city’s lower-income families live, said
Timothy Burroughs, Berkeley’s chief
resilience officer. West Berkeley's
location next to the rising bay invites
possible challenges in the future,
“As our challenges are intercon-nected, our solutions must also be in
order to make Berkeley more resilient,” according to Burroughs.
Since 2004, Berkeley has seismically upgraded, strengthened or
replaced buildings that are critical
to the city and its public schools.
More than 90% of the city’s 700
LEFT Berkeley, Calif. — home of the University of
California at Berkeley — is susceptible to different
climatic events such as earthquakes and wildfires.
ABOVE The Oakland Hills Firestorm of 1991
destroyed parts of Berkeley, Calif., and its neighbor,
Oakland. The wildfire killed more than 20 people.