Metrics that Matter

The USRC Building Rating System assigns one to five stars along the dimensions of 


The potential for people in the building to get out of the building unharmed after an event.          


The estimated cost to repair the building as a percentage of the building’s replacement cost.          


An estimate of the minimum time required to effect repairs and to remove safety hazards impeding use.

USRC Safety Rating

The USRC SAFETY dimension reflects the expected performance of the building in terms of loss of life, injury and egress. An average building designed to modern building codes should achieve a safety rating of three to four stars.

USRC Damage Rating

The USRC DAMAGE dimension is an estimate of the cost to repair the building, as a percentage of replacement cost (not including the replacement of contents). Market conditions following the event such as increases in local construction costs may impact repair costs, and the Damage dimension does not include factors such as business interruption losses, historic preservation costs, or mandatory upgrades triggered by building code regulations. An average building designed to modern building codes should achieve a damage rating of two to three stars.

The DAMAGE rating does not include

    • Damage caused by fire and water and gas pipe breakage,
    • Damage to the building contents or furnishings,
    • Market conditions following the event such as increases in construction costs,
    • Specialized work to repair historic features or remove hazardous materials,
    • Building upgrades or improvements required by building codes, or
    • Business interruption economic losses.

USRC Recovery Rating

The USRC RECOVERY dimension is an estimate of the time until a property owner or tenant is able to enter and use the building for its basic intended functions. It represents a minimum timeframe to carry out needed repairs and remove major safety hazards. Included in the Recovery dimension are potential delays in design, financing, and construction that may include long-lead time equipment or materials, a lack of available local design professionals or contractors, and longer than usual permitting and inspection wait times. It does not address several other factors that can delay the time to regain function, including: the condition of external infrastructure (e.g. utilities, transportation); damage to building contents; or the condition of adjacent buildings. An average building designed to modern building codes should achieve a recovery rating of two to three stars.

The RECOVERY rating does not include the time to

    • Fully restore all building functions,
    • Repair all damage, and
    • Repair utilities, transportation systems, adjacent building and other external damage.

Hazard levels

Seismic hazards correspond to an earthquake ground shaking intensity typically required by codes for the design of a new building. This is not the same as designing for a specific magnitude event, because the shaking intensity at a site depends on how far away major earthquake faults are and the soil on which the building sits.

The USRC is currently developing ratings for other hazards, including wind, wildfire and flood.


The USRC Rating is not a precise estimate of building safety, damage and recovery time, given the variables that are not included in the rating and the uncertainty in predicting the exact performance of buildings subject to natural hazards. The USRC strongly recommends that building owners and tenants carefully consider these factors, and then take measures to reduce risks, remove hazards from the work place, and prepare plans for business resumption. The USRC star ratings reflect performance estimates made by USRC certified engineers who have reviewed the building’s engineering design. Many factors beyond the control of an engineer affect the performance of a building:

    • Hazard intensity often varies from the intensities expected for the region.
    • Construction might deviate from the plans, or changes could have been made after the rating has been awarded.
    • Building occupants might introduce hazardous materials or create additional hazards.

USRC Rating Dimensions and Certifications


The USRC Platinum Rating represents a the highest level of building performance. Platinum rated buildings are expected to suffer negligible damage – less than 5% of replacement cost, and allow functional recovery within a few days of a major seismic event. The USRC Platinum Rating is sought by owners who demand the highest level of asset protection and virtually uninterrupted functionality of their operations.


The USRC Gold Rating represents a very high level of performance. Gold rated buildings are expected to suffer only minor damage – less than 10% of replacement cost, and allow functional recovery within several weeks of a major seismic event. The USRC Gold Rating is sought by owners who demand high levels of asset protection and minimal disruption to their operations.


The USRC Silver Rating is for buildings that in addition to meeting the Certified standards are expected to suffer repairable damage – less than 20% of replacement cost, and allow functional recovery within a few months of a major seismic event. The USRC Silver Rating is awarded to buildings where limiting damage is an important consideration, as for properties with commercial loans and in the transactional due diligence market.


The USRC Certified Rating is for buildings that have been evaluated by the US Resilience Council and comply with modern codes for performance in earthquakes. Certified buildings are expected to perform in a manner that will preserve life safety of the occupants, limit damage to repairable levels under 40% of replacement cost, and allow functional recovery within a year of a major seismic event. 

A USRC Verified Rating can be used for promotional, marketing and publicity purposes. Owners whose Verified Ratings meet specific performance thresholds can use the badges above to promote the resilient design of their buildings. Each Verified Rating is

  • performed by certified professionals,
  • technically reviewed,
  • transparent – using national standards,
  • credible – designed to prevent manipulation,
  • easy for the lay person to understand.

The USRC Transaction Rating gives your team a reliable due diligence report for making well-informed property investment decisions and managing risk exposure, accommodating both the schedule and cost demands of the leasing, sales, finance and insurance industry. It delivers consistent information regardless of the engineer performing the evaluation. Random technical reviews are performed to maintain credibility. Your Transaction Rating will remain confidential with the USRC.

Who uses USRC Ratings

  • Owners use USRC Ratings  because properties having high USRC ratings benefit from increased perceived value (similar to LEED® accredited properties), potentially increasing leasing rates and transaction efficiency.

  • Lenders and Insurers use USRC Ratings  to make informed real estate transactions associated with lending decisions and defining insurance products.

  • Tenants and Lessees Value a USRC Rating as it relates to both safety and recovery time following a major event and to make go/no go leasing decisions.

  • Governments and Institutions use USRC Ratings  to identify safe buildings and make long-term strategic plans for reducing reconstruction costs and recovery time following earthquakes.

  • Architects use USRC Ratings as an integral part of resilient design strategies for their clients.

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USRC Rating Definitions have been derived from technical publications originally developed by the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC). SEAONC granted the USRC permission to use these documents. Any differences between USRC Ratings and related SEAONC documents are solely the work of the USRC and do not reflect any opinion, endorsement, or approval by SEAONC. While US codes and engineering practices are among the most advanced in the world, evaluations of building performance subject to natural disasters include a significant amount of uncertainty: unknowns related to forecasting actual event location, size and duration, the actual intensity to which the building is subject, and the quality of the building design and construction. Current building analysis, evaluation and correlation methods do not address or remove all these sources of uncertainty. Due to many factors including but not limited to variations in construction, differing site conditions, and variations in natural and man-made events, the performance evaluation of a single building includes a significant amount of uncertainty.