Jerome Hajjar, professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering
Hurricane Sandy destroyed hundreds of buildings throughout New York and New Jersey. But hundreds more that withstood collapse were so severely damaged they had to be demolished.
What if there were a way to design buildings to minimize the impact of such damage?
At Northeastern’s STReSS lab for Structural Testing of Resilient and Sustainable Systems, Hajjar and his team are doing just that—designing materials and building components that will make structures more resilient to natural and manmade disasters, from hurricanes to earthquakes to terrorist attacks.
One example: Structural “fuses” that absorb destructive energy, the same way electrical fuses absorb overloads. These steel fuses can be removed and replaced, leaving the rest of the building intact.
If we were to work this sort of resilience technology into nationwide building codes, says Hajjar, cities and towns could realize millions of dollars in savings, and, more important, maintain far more sustainable communities.