If I follow the current code standards, will my building weather an earthquake without any problems?
The codes are based on the maximum “likely” earthquake that has a 2% chance of occurrence in the next 50 years. This means there is a very small chance that an earthquake can occur that is larger than this. The codes are also “life safety” based. This means that during the above earthquake, the building and equipment will hold together well enough so that lives will not be lost. Except in some rare cases in hospitals, etc., there is no requirement that the building and equipment will retain its functionality. If continued functionality is required, a performance-based specification should be considered. (Note: A performance-based spec will typically require that all of the equipment specified for the project be shake table tested to levels consistent with the design seismic forces to ensure its continued functionality.)