On solid ground – BRANZ Principal Structural Engineer Graeme Beattie

Graeme Beattie

Principal Structural Engineer and Structures Team Leader at BRANZ Graeme Beattie received a Meritorious Service Award this year for his contributions to structural engineering standards.

Graeme has over 25 years' experience researching the seismic behaviour of structural systems. He chaired P 4229 technical committee, which worked on NZS 4229:2013 Concrete masonry buildings not requiring specific engineering design. Published earlier this year, the revised standard includes several changes based on lessons learnt through the Canterbury earthquakes, including a revised definition of ‘good ground’ for the Canterbury earthquake region that is consistent with changes introduced to the New Zealand Building Code compliance documents in 2011. NZS 4229 was sponsored by the Department of Building and Housing (now part of the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)) and Standards New Zealand, with additional funding provided by the Earthquake Commission.

Graeme says the focus of the revision was to ensure the standard was aligned with the loadings values and requirements under the AS/NZS 1170 loadings standards.

‘At the same time, we updated the earthquake zones in the standard to be consistent with NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings and made it so that earthquake actions may now be calculated specifically for a site’s subsoil classification.’

Graeme has been actively involved in post-earthquake work in Christchurch, both in conducting inspections and in researching the effects of the earthquakes on buildings. Following the devastating 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, he was one of four BRANZ engineers to be part of Operation Suburb. The 10-day operation aimed to get building inspectors and welfare officers out to the 75 000 homes in the hard hit eastern and southern suburbs of Christchurch immediately following the earthquake. These officers surveyed damage and ensured that dwelling occupants were able to safely remain in their homes or evacuate. He says, ‘It was an honour to be involved in the project and felt good to be able to contribute something to the community at that time’.

Research and standards development are both important parts of his work. He is a member of MBIE’s Engineering Advisory Group and over the years he has represented BRANZ on numerous Standards New Zealand building-related technical committees. He has also served as a member of several joint Australian/New Zealand and ISO standards committees, including serving as the convenor of ISO technical committee 165, Timber structures, working group 7, Connections and assemblies.

‘The work I’m involved in through ISO is quite helpful in gaining an understanding of what new materials and products are available and their appropriateness for New Zealand,’ he says. ‘It’s also a very robust process so it’s important to have a New Zealand perspective at the table.’

Recognised for his expertise, his nominators noted when submitting his name for a Meritorious Service Award, ‘Graeme is able to bring valuable experience and knowledge of the building performance issues encountered to his committee roles’.

In 2012, Graeme became a Fellow of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering.

Published in building.

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