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Environmental Risk Analysis for High-Rise Buildings

Contact Yves Dechamps
Keywords High-Rise Buildings, Risk Analysis, Seveso, Environment
  • Prof. P. Bouillard, ULB
  • Prof. B. Espion, ULB
  • Prof. Y. Rammer, ULB
  • Prof. M. Van Overmeire, VUB
Environmental risk analysis for high-rise buildings

High-rise building has greater risk of fire according to its features such as great height, complex structure and diverse functions and so on. It''s easy to cause heavy casualties and property losses once the high-rise building fire taking place. It''s of great significance, through the fire-safety evaluation for high-rise building, to prevent the occurrence of high-rise building fire in time. For the characteristics of high-rise building fire, the paper constructs its fire safety evaluation index system on the basis of abstract the main factors which influence the high-rise building fire-safety. And to determine the weights of indicators through experts''evaluation and points-scoring, fuzzy computing and other methods, then to calculate the assessment level of high-rise building fire-safety by using the fuzzy centralization theory. Exemplified case study has shown that the method could overcome the shortage of traditional statistical method, the evaluation result is in line with the actual situation, and with the strong operability and practical values.  

How can new and existing High-Rise Buildings (HRB) be analyzed while taking into account environmental safety factors? HRB are generally controversial symbols in the city: they can easily be accepted or rejected according to national, cultural, societal or historical contexts. But what risks do inhabitants, environment and the neighborhood run? What safety factors should be taken into account for the HRB and the environment simultaneously? The toxic fumes released on 11th September during the fall of the Twin Towers affected residents and urban environment long after the disaster, which raised various questions about the HRB safety and associated risks.

In the past HRB were mainly criticized for their urban integration. Today the safety factor due to their integration in high density environment cannot be overlooked any longer. The risk should be assessed for such buildings with regard to their impact on the environment or on the urban development. The purpose of this study is to propose a risk assessment model based on the European Seveso Directive and the FRAME methodology (Fire Risk Assessment Method for Engineering), a fire safety risks analysis method for HRB.

The Seveso Directive established by the Council of the European Communities intends to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances and to limit their consequences for Man and his environment. This Directive is applicable to all establishments directly containing dangerous substances or potentially producing them as a result of an accident (including domino effect). The European Countries must ensure that the operator draws up a document setting out his major-accident prevention policy and produces a safety report.

Today, HRB are not considered as Seveso establishments due to the fact that no dangerous substances are stored, used or produced. However, should a fire or explosion occur, the environmental impact would be of the same nature.

The proposed model integrates the various stages of external and internal HRB risks assessment, first deterministically then probabilistically. The study follows the incident scenario approach to determine hazard origins by event and fault tree use. Originally the FRAME method includes protection considerations for inhabitants, building and activities. A fourth component, the environmental factor, will be incorporated. This aspect includes urban neighbourhood, other HRB, roads and transport facilities and commercial and industrial activities. This environment factor will be included in the risk environment tool developed upon the FRAME method in order to obtain a global safety assessment report similar to those imposed for Seveso establishments.

Selected publications

[1] Dechamps, Yves, P. Bouillard, and Y. Rammer. 2010. Analyse critique de l''option d''implantation de nouveaux immeubles-tours. Université Libre de Bruxelles
[2] Dechamps, Yves, P. Bouillard, and Y. Rammer. 2010. Intégration des risques liés à l''environnement dans l''analyse critique de nouveaux immeubles-tours. Université Libre de Bruxelles

[3] Dechamps, Yves, P. Bouillard, and Y. Rammer. 2011. Environmental Risks Analysis For High-Rise Buildings In Belgium With The European Seveso Directives. CTBUH 2011