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Sheldon Wolfe
Senior Member
Username: sheldon_wolfe

Post Number: 139
Registered: 01-2003
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 02:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Are there standards for a "100-year" building?
Ronald L. Geren, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: specman

Post Number: 142
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 03:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Building Standard BS-1 - "Building shall remain standing and operational for 100 years."

Just Kidding.

I think longevity is the one of the main thrusts of sustainable design, and LEED Platinum Certification for new construction is probably the closest to a standard that I can think of for a 100-year building.
Ralph Liebing
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 174
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 04:20 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

For a good while, 75 years was generally considered a "building life".

Trouble is, some the projects I've worked on, have been or are being replaced already!
Tobin Oruch, CDT
Senior Member
Username: oruch

Post Number: 21
Registered: 04-2003
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 04:56 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

LEED may help with long life a bit, but if that's your goal then I think specifying flexibility and maintainability are key. Maybe some wording like this? I'd appreciate feedback on it.

Design Goals
1. Unless stated as otherwise in the project-specific project documents, designers shall use the following parameters for life cycle cost analysis and design goals:

Facility Expected Life: 39 years (basis: Standards IRS depreciation period for commercial buildings)
System Expected Life (moving components of systems in architectural, mechanical, electrical, I&C, systems): 20 years
Computer-based Systems: 10 years
Discount rate:

2. Materials and finishes shall be chosen accordingly.
3. Difficult-to-replace systems and components shall be designed to perform for the 39-year period with minimal life-extension activity. Examples of such systems and components:

Electrical wiring, conduit, fixtures, transformers
Exterior wall finishes
Flooring, hard-surface flooring (e.g., ceramic or quarry tile)
Mechanical equipment (passive)
Structural and architectural components of concrete and metal

4. For systems and components that cannot be reasonable expected to perform for 39 years without replacement or life extension, design for ease of replacement/life-extension.

5. Systems and Components for which replacement or life extension is anticipated in less than 39 years:

Electrical equipment with moving parts or contacts
Flooring (carpet and vinyl)
Mechanical equipment (non-passive)
Roofing (recoating or replacement assumed unless metal)
Sheldon Wolfe
Senior Member
Username: sheldon_wolfe

Post Number: 140
Registered: 01-2003
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 05:16 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Thanks for the comments. I Googled (and Dogpiled) the term in various forms before I posted the question. After looking through several pages of links, the only one that had anything useful had to do with LEED, but there wasn't much there.

Some government agencies have talked about "hundred year" buildings for a long time; it is generally understood to mean buildings that will be around for a long time. Some of our other clients, who are also committed to being in specific locations for a long time, have also used the term.

It has always been discussed as an abstract concept, but this morning a DB contractor asked if one of our projects was a 25-, 75-, or 100-year building. The PA suggested we fake it, but I'm concerned someone may come back and ask how we made the call.
J. Peter Jordan
Senior Member
Username: jpjordan

Post Number: 73
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 06:23 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I think one needs to distinguish between the structure and shell of the building and the building services or operating building equipment. Although there may be some 100-year-old buildings out there with structure and shell intact, I would venture to say that very few of them are still using the original elevators and ventilating systems.

One will want to consider maintenance; there are 200-year old wood frame buildings that require relatively frequent paint jobs. On the otherhand, there are poorly constructed masonry buildings that do not perform well when measured against the standards of water infiltration. Does a 100-year building require frequent maintenance?

Looking at the building through a UniFormat lens might allow you to single out expected performance for various systems. Good copper standing seam roofs that are well installed should last 40 to 50 years; slate and tile, maybe longer. Bituminous-based membrane systems will almost certainly not last that long. Certainly a well-designed concrete or steel frame resting on a solid foundation will be around for a long time.

Glazed brick wall and terrazzo floor finishes are long-lasting, low maintenance finishes.

Come to think of it, with a lot of money for maintenance and capital replacement, you might be able to low-ball the first building cost (although building structure would be someplace you wouldn't want to skimp on) and still get the building to last 100 years.

Do remember that one of the finest "old buildings" I know of does have a hole in the roof--the Pantheon in Rome. It is coming up on 2,000 years old and still going strong.

This is a very interesting question with a lot of kinks and twists to it.
Shedrick E. Glass, CSI,CCS
New member
Username: shedd_glass

Post Number: 1
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 10:38 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Perhaps the life of a building should be defined as the period of time a building remains in a REASONABLY MAINTAINABLE condition?
There comes a time when repair or repacement of component parts or systems is no longer practical and repacement of the entire structure becomes the most practical action.
Mark Gilligan SE, CSI
New member
Username: markgilligan

Post Number: 1
Registered: 05-2005
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 12:30 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

If you are in earthquake country and you want a 100 year building, consideration should be given to adopting more restrictive earthquake design criteria. The building code provisions are based on achieving life safety, so in the event of a major earthquake occupants may be able to exit safely but the building may have to be torn down.

It is clear that there is no standard set of criteria for a 100 year building. If a client truly wants a 100 year plus useful building life then the design team will need to carefully analyze what that means and how it can be achieved, early in the programming phase. This extra service would necessitate Client involvement to define expectations.

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