The first NEESWood test took place at a shake-table facility at the University at Buffalo, one of the National Science Foundation's 15 Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) laboratories.
Each of the NEES components brings a different capability to the study of how earthquake forces impact our built environment. From bridge spans to pipelines to seaside communities, NSF's NEES network provides controlled, laboratory settings for studying how full-scale earthquake motion impacts full-scale engineered structures.
The benchmark NEESWood test subjected a sensor-equipped, fully constructed home to an accurate simulation of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, including motions 50 percent more intense than those that engineers currently design buildings to withstand.
From the test, the NEESWood engineers learned that wood-frame houses can provide survivable environments during an earthquake, but damage is so severe that extensive repairs are required if the building is to remain in use.
The engineers also learned how relatively small wood-frame structures respond to earthquakes, using the new knowledge to develop better computer simulations for the design of homes and similar buildings.
However, one of the project's primary goals has always been to learn how to design a mid-rise, wood-frame structure that could meet or exceed current standards for safety. To that end, the team worked with industry to design and build the seven-story, 23-unit condominium building that was tested at Japan's E-Defense shake table in June and July of 2009.
E-Defense has a partnership with NSF's NEES facilities to conduct research that will aid engineers in both Japan and the United States as they strive to design more resilient structures. The partnership extends from a memorandum of understanding that NSF signed with Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).