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Why Concrete is the Safest Building Material for Earthquake-Prone Areas!

Table of Contents

When it comes to constructing buildings in earthquake-prone areas, safety should be the top priority. The use of appropriate building materials can significantly increase the safety of the building and its occupants. One of the most popular building materials, concrete, has been used for decades in construction projects. But is concrete the safest building material for earthquake-prone areas? In this article, we will explore why concrete is considered a safe building material for earthquake-prone areas.

Why Concrete is the Safest Building Material for Earthquake-Prone Areas!
Old ruined building after an earthquake. A collapsed brick house.

Building Codes and Guidelines

Many areas prone to earthquake hazards now use building codes [1]. Any new building or adjustment to existing buildings must be carried out to strict guidelines to help protect people from future earthquakes. These codes and guidelines ensure that buildings are constructed to withstand seismic forces and remain standing even in a severe earthquake.

Concrete vs. Other Building Materials

Concrete is one of the most widely used building materials in construction projects. While it may not be the only safe material for earthquake-prone areas, it certainly has some advantages. Concrete structures perform well in earthquakes because of their high compressive strength and ability to resist lateral loads [4]. In addition, concrete has high ductility and can absorb a significant amount of energy before failing [7].

However, buildings consisting primarily of steel or other metals are much better at resisting earthquakes. Steel is much lighter than concrete but still brings a great deal of durability to construction projects. More flexible than concrete and other building materials, steel is more likely to bend instead of break when experiencing seismic forces [2].

Seismic Design Principles

Successful seismic design is three-fold. First, the design team must take a multi-hazard approach to the building design. Second, they must understand the local geological conditions and assess the seismic hazard levels in the area [3]. Finally, they must design the building to withstand the anticipated level of seismic forces.

Earthquake-Resistant Building Techniques

There are several methods used to help buildings withstand earthquakes. One way is to create a flexible foundation. One way to resist ground forces is to “lift” the building’s foundation above the earth through a method called base isolation. Base isolation involves constructing a building on top of flexible pads made of steel, rubber, and lead [5]. Another technique is to create a flexible foundation for the building. One option is to build the structure on top of pads that separate the building from the ground. Then, the pads move, but the building stays still [6].

Avoiding Construction Mistakes

Construction mistakes can be costly and dangerous, especially in earthquake-prone areas. Common mistakes include creating soft stories and building irregularities [8]. Soft stories are stories in a building that are less stiff and less strong than the stories above. They are common in buildings with a ground floor that has open spaces such as parking lots or storefronts.

Environmental Impact

Concrete is one of the most popular building materials around the world. It’s relatively cheap, quite easy to work with, has a long life, and is resistant to fire [9]. However, it’s very vulnerable to the stresses caused by seismic events. The production of concrete is also very damaging to the environment. One of its main ingredients is cement, which is responsible for a significant amount of carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, there has been an increasing interest in developing eco-friendly concrete alternatives that can withstand earthquakes and reduce environmental damage.


In conclusion, concrete is considered a safe building material for earthquake-prone areas due to its high compressive strength, ability to resist lateral loads, and high ductility. However, other building materials such as steel are better at resisting seismic forces. To ensure safety, it’s important to follow building codes and guidelines, use seismic design principles, and avoid common construction mistakes. Furthermore, the environmental impact of concrete production must be considered, and eco-friendly alternatives should be explored.

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