The severe socio-economic impact of recent earthquakes has represented a tough reality check, further confirming the mismatch between society expectations and reality of seismic performance of modern buildings. Life-safety code-compliant design criteria are not enough when dealing with new structures. To raise the bar in terms of structural safety and overall performance objectives, the renewed challenge is defining high-performance buildings able to sustain a design-level earthquake with minimum disruption of business and limited economic losses. To achieve this goal, alternative strategies might be adopted: (a) implementing more advanced design methodologies, (b) increasing the seismic design level, (c) adopting low-damage earthquake-resistant technologies. However, the common perception is that these strategies would lead to unaffordable costs. To support decision-makers, the paper develops a comprehensive parametric study to compare the cost–benefit of reinforced concrete multi-storey buildings designed for increasing levels of seismic intensities (representing a higher seismicity zone or Importance Class) and according to alternative design approaches (Force-based vs. Displacement-based) and technologies (traditional vs. low-damage). Analytical/numerical investigations are carried out to determine the building performance, and loss assessment analyses are performed to compute the Expected Annual Losses of all the parametric configurations. Results, further elaborated through a machine-learning technique, highlight the convenience of implementing more advanced design methodologies, such as a displacement-based approach allowing for a better control of the building response, and the remarkable benefits of applying low-damage technologies, leading to a very high performance and significantly reduced economic losses (> 50%) for a small increase (< 5–10%) of the initial investment cost.
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- Economic losses
- Low damage
- Seismic design
- Seismic safety