Author Archives: Andy Coughlin

Temporary or Permanent? Increasing Hospital Capacity for the COVID-19 Crisis

Image above: Photo by Noah Berger courtesy of UCSF

Temporary or Permanent? Increasing Hospital Capacity for the COVID-19 Crisis

In an effort to prepare for the projected number of patients who will need medical care during the COVID-19 crisis many hospitals are making rapid improvements to increase critical care capacity.  On March 17, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed emergency legislation providing $1.1B in additional state funds to increase hospital capacity, provide medical equipment, and implement other measures to address the outbreak.  According to current projections California is expected to face a shortfall of 4,000 to 20,000 hospital beds from its pre-crisis capacity.

Though some hospitals are erecting temporary accelerated care units (ACU’s), like at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center above, many existing hospitals and clinics will require ventilation modifications to make them safe for the care of COVID-19 patients.  With multiple waves of the pandemic possible, some are asking whether this capacity is really temporary or if we need this hospital capacity on a semi-permanent basis.

Negative Pressurization

Laboratory Exhaust Fan

Laboratory Exhaust Fan on Shake Table (via OSP-0223-10), courtesy of OSHPD

Many patient rooms in hospitals are designed to have net positive pressurization so outside pathogens stay away from vulnerable patients.  However, infectious disease wards typically require negative pressurization so germs get exhausted outside at high velocity and don’t spread throughout the facility.  Modifying hospital care facilities from positive to negative pressurization isn’t as simple as modifying fan speeds or directions.  The potentially harmful exhaust air must exit through an elevated stack and leave at a high velocity so it doesn’t come into contact with humans outside.  Also, additional outside air often requires rooftop makeup air units so treated fresh air can be cycled into these facilities.

Install Now, Permit Later

Makeup Air Unit on Shake Table

Makeup Air Unit on the Shake Table (Photo by Matt Settergren)

Due to the crisis, the State of California is waiving building permits for the emergency preparations needed for the expected influx of patients.  TRU Compliance certified manufacturers are rising to the challenge and are supporting rapid delivery of equipment needed for these hospital modifications.  TRU has confirmed with California State Officials that any emergency installations during this time will either need to be removed following the crisis or permitted in-place at a later date.  Given the expense of these modifications, hospital owners may want to select pre-approved and certified equipment and install it in a code-compliant manner so it can remain in place as we prepare for future waves of the virus.

Wind and Seismic Concerns

Though we need to first consider rapid expansion of hospital capacity, the ongoing aspects of this crisis mean that in seismic regions like California, equipment installed for this crisis should be seismically certified in order to remain after the crisis.  As we’ve seen in the M5.8 earthquake on March 18 near Salt Lake City, earthquakes are unpredictable and could happen at any time.  Similarly in high wind regions and with hurricane season approaching, wind certified equipment should be considered if a medical facility hopes to have the flexibility to convert to negative pressurization for this and future pandemics.

TRU Compliance is an accredited product certification agency ready to assist hospitals, manufacturers, and suppliers to assure that the equipment provided will be able to remain in place and ensure no lapses in certification during a period of enforcement.   Please feel free to contact the TRU Compliance team to discuss your rapid installation project, or for any certification needs at 844-TRU-0200 or

Find TRU Compliance certified equipment at


TRU Compliance Achieves Accreditation as a Product Certification Body

TRU Compliance Listed

TRU Compliance achieves accreditation from the International Accreditation Service (IAS) as a product certification body for seismic, wind, and blast/physical security performance of nonstructural components. In addition, according to the International Accreditation Service, we are the second company to be certified for Seismic performance of non-structural components. However, we are the first company to be certified for Wind and Blast/Physical Security performance.

Scope of Accreditation

Seismic Wind and Physical Security performance for non-structural components

Domestic and international manufacturers contract TRU Compliance to test products and equipment required to achieve high performance during and after earthquakes, high wind events, terrorist attacks, and accidental explosions.

TRU Compliance’s clients that are worldwide leaders in the manufacturing and distribution of electrical, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, power production, medical diagnostic and treatment, life safety, water treatment, building facade, and perimeter security products.  Products achieving the rigorous TRU Compliance standard bear the TRU Compliance logo and achieve a certification listing on Once listed, surveillance and sampling confirm ongoing production continues to produce products meeting compliance requirements.

Read the full press release: PRESS RELEASE-TRU Compliance Accreditation

IAS Accreditation Certificate

TRU Compliance IAS certificate, PCA-135

Effective March 17, 2019, this accreditation confirms TRU Compliance conforms to ISO/IEC 17065:2012, the standard governing product certification bodies worldwide.

International Accreditation Service (IAS) maintains an online list of accredited companies at


What Distinguishes an ISO-Compliant Product Certification Agency?

Whether it’s fair-trade coffee, sustainably harvested lumber, energy efficient appliances, or other certified products, consumers and companies look for products that have high standards of origin, production, and performance. Structural Integrity Associates’ TRU Compliance mark is no different. Our mark shows buyers a product has undergone rigorous assessment for seismic, wind, and blast performance to nationally recognized standards.

However, not all agencies conform to the internationally recognized set of standards that govern a product certification agency, allowing it to be impartial, objective, and accountable to the public. The standard ISO/IEC 17065 Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services spells out requirements that make agencies like TRU Compliance accountable to its clients and to the public. The requirements in TRU Compliance’s Certification Manual are broad, but they generally fall into the three categories below.

Structural Requirements

An annual management review meeting occurs highlighting potential areas for improvement in quality and impartiality. An impartiality committee consisting of experts external to TRU Compliance convenes annually as well and reviews the steps TRU has taken to protect the objectivity of their certifications. This committee has the power to escalate issues to the SI’s Quality Assurance department, accrediting organizations, and to halt certification activities until their concerns are addressed.

Process Requirements
Product assessment is carried out to the TRU Compliance Certification Standard for Seismic, Wind, and Physical Security Performance, which references national standards from ASCE, ICC-ES, IEEE, ASTM, and others. This standard is available upon request by emailing The assessment is not offered in conjunction with any consulting activity and TRU Compliance certification engineers are precluded from working on assessments of products for which they provided design advice for a period of two years.

The evidence documenting a product performance is submitted to an expert member of the TRU Certification Decision Maker (CDM) roster who has not participated in the certification activities up to that point. The CDM reviews all pertinent information and makes the final decision on whether the certification can be granted.

After a product is granted a certification, the manufacturer submits their production process to periodic surveillance to make sure the products for market are well represented by the products submitted for testing or assessment. TRU staff will review records and make factory or point-of-sale inspections to confirm products can still be marked as TRU Compliance certified.

Public Accountability
TRU Compliance maintains public records of products it certifies on its Seismic Certification Database. Visitors can search and sort products rated for seismic certification, filtering for product category, seismic level, and building code. Manufacturers who label their products with a TRU certification mark are communicating to discerning buyers that their product has been subjected to industry standard by testing, analysis, or combinations thereof. The mark of conformity allows any user to search for the active listing to verify the product indeed has an active certification.

TRU Compliance is further accountable to the public with its system for public comment and complaints, which are overseen by Structural Integrity’s Quality Assurance team (reachable at 877-4SI-POWER). This process allows anyone to file a grievance if they believe a certified product is not in conformance and for the management of TRU Compliance to be held accountable to SI’s Quality Assurance department.

With the certification program going active July 2018 and external accreditation expected in early 2019, the TRU Compliance certification has never been a more robust program for seismic, wind, and blast compliance of products.


The Impact of the ASCE 7-16 Standard on Seismic Design & Certification of Equipment

Things change, that’s just a fact of life. But when it comes to engineering codes and standards, change can be confusing, frustrating and expensive. As it relates to seismic design and certification of equipment, it is beneficial to understand the impact of code changes early to begin incorporating requirements in new equipment design, product updates and in the certification process.

One of the main structural design codes used in the United States and abroad, American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) 7, undergoes revisions on a five-year cycle. These revisions are based on input from committee members, building officials, interested parties and academia with the goal of ensuring specific performance objectives are achieved as well as incorporating lessons learned from practice. With the increase in enforcement of seismic certification provisions over the past 10 years, there has been a noticeable increase in industry lessons learned. The updates to the seismic provisions in ASCE 7-16 relating to equipment design and certification can primarily be attributed to these lessons learned.

Limitations on RUsed in Certification by Analysis

In the past, no guidance has been provided within ASCE 7 on proper analytical approaches to certify electrical and mechanical components. This has led many Certification Agencies and engineers to certify components through elastic analysis using seismic forces reduced by the component response modification factor (RP). While these Rvalues may provide reasonable seismic forces for anchorage design, there lacks a robust justification for these values when considering component performance objectives.

Industry experience with shake table testing components designed with these Rvalues has shown these components do not always maintain structural integrity. A review of past testing by TRU Compliance (Structural Integrity’s Product Certification Agency) has shown that structural elements may be ok, but their connections may suffer premature failure. Unlike provisions for seismic design of buildings, ASCE 7 requirements for nonstructural components do not specify detailing requirements for connections in the lateral force resisting system (such as designing for overstrength forces). As such, members and their connections can be designed for the same loads. This can result in a condition where seismic mechanisms assumed in design using high Rvalues cannot form due to premature connection failure.

As opposed to implementing material and system specific detailing requirements, which would be unrealistic given the extensive range of component types in practice, ASCE 7-16 includes provisions that require components certified by analysis to remain essentially elastic. The goal is to address premature connection failures by requiring the entire system to be designed for unreduced seismic forces, but this change may also result in the need for more material in the lateral force resisting system (and therefore more cost in the component). This code change can result in substantially higher design forces when certifying a component by analysis and may require extensive design changes to resist the same site demand as a previous certification by analysis (or alternatively derating a component capacity under ASCE 7-16).

Rugged Component for Seismic Certification | TRU Compliance

Definition of Rugged Component

Manufacturers and consulting engineers alike have looked to use a provision within Section 13.2.2 of ASCE 7 to bypass the need to analyze or test certain components. The provision states that if a component can be shown to be inherently rugged, it can be deemed to meet seismic certification requirements without further consideration. However, there has never been a formal definition of rugged within ASCE 7 and no listing of components that are commonly considered rugged. Therefore, while the provision sounds like a useful option, it was rarely used in cases with building official review.

To the excitement of many, a formal definition of “component, rugged” has been added within ASCE 7-16. However, upon reading the definition one will quickly realize that the definition of a rugged component basically requires the component be certified by experience data. That is, for a component to be considered rugged it must be shown to function based on past earthquake data or past seismic testing. While this is not a major windfall for manufacturers, it is consistent with the approach that has been taken by TRU Compliance, Structural Integrity’s wholly owned subsidiary, and certification arm.

While ASCE 7-16 is essentially requiring experience data certification of rugged components, one aspect of the definition that will likely be pushed extensively by manufacturers is the last sentence which provides “common examples of rugged components.” These examples include AC motors, compressors, and base-mounted horizontal pumps. TRU Compliance agrees that these types of components have historically met performance objectives after high levels of seismic testing, but the specific component proposed to be certified as rugged must be evaluated against the baseline for similar strength and stiffness.

Design Requirements for Seismic Certification | TRU Compliance

Design Requirements for Modular Systems

The TRU Compliance team has worked on a variety of projects involving modular mechanical and electrical systems for conventional and critical facilities. An example of such a modular system is a modular central plant in which numerous components (chillers, boilers, pumps, piping, electrical distribution, etc.) are installed in factory-built modules are deployed to a site. One of the most common approaches manufacturers attempt to pursue is to classify the entire system as a component per Chapter 13 of ASCE 7 and thereby argue no design of the system is required. In doing so, seismic design requirements are more lenient and anchorage and bracing of internals would not be required if the component importance factor was 1.0.

The intent of the building code was not to allow the use of modular

construction to build to reduced seismic requirements. Systems are normally designed as buildings or structures should still be designed as such when built in a modular fashion. To provide explicit direction, a new section was added to ASCE 7-16 which specifically addresses seismic design of modular mechanical and electrical systems. This section clarifies modular mechanical and electrical systems in excess of 6 feet tall, contain or support mechanical and electrical components must be designed in accordance with the provisions for nonbuilding structures in Chapter 15.

TRU Compliance has understood the intent of the building code and has been designing modular systems in accordance with these provisions for many years. We have expertise in working with manufacturers and developing system designs that comply with code requirements in a buildable and efficient manner.

Allowable Use of AHRI Seismic Certification Standard

Years back, the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) developed a seismic certification standard, ANSI/AHRI Standard 1270/1271, with the intent of clarifying performance objectives and certification requirements specific to HVACR equipment. Much of the document references requirements from ICC-ES AC156 testing standard as well as items from ASCE 7, but provided further clarification of specific items requiring testing and methods of certification.

The ASCE 7 task committee on nonstructural components reviewed this standard and worked with AHRI to ensure there was alignment between code requirements and the AHRI standard. After it was determined the intentions of ASCE 7 and AHRI 1270/1271 were aligned, the standard was incorporated by reference into ASCE 7-16 with a few clarifying points. These clarifications included the assertion that all active and/or energized components must be shake table tested or certified using experience data, a component classified as rugged must comply with the definition in ASCE 7-16 and analysis shall be based on ASCE 7-16 provisions including material specification and requirements for the component to remain essentially elastic.

It is the hope more industry groups will develop detailed seismic certification standards that address items specific to their equipment types. The AHRI standard helps define requirements specific to HVACR equipment to ensure consistency in certification approaches across multiple manufacturers and product certification agencies. More industry engagement is needed to develop such product type standards but will be a great step forward in advancing the certification industry.

Ultimately, updates to codes such as ASCE 7 are intended to align building code performance objectives with practice. The many lessons learned over the past decade of seismic certification have helped further the development of codes and standards that ensure equipment meets specified performance requirements after a design earthquake. For many years, TRU Compliance has been heavily engaged in the code development process and looks forward to continuing to assist our clients to meet product certification requirements in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

This article was originally written for Volume 44, News & Views.


About TRU Compliance

TRU Compliance stands for safety and code compliance when failure is not an option.  Our clients manufacture cutting edge products that push the limits of operational performance and efficiency in many industries. We help them achieve continued performance during earthquakes, high wind events, explosions, and a host of other extreme events. We believe achieving code compliance in these areas should not be complicated. So, we continually invest in the development of innovative systems and approaches to simplify the lives of our clients and deliver efficient and transparent results, every time.

Product Certification Agency

We are a recognized leader in Seismic, Wind & Blast product certification. We are a full-service product certification agency executing project specific and product line approvals for a range of code requirements. Our team has been providing product certification services since 2008 and recently joined forces with Structural Integrity in May 2017, thus expanding our resources and reach. Our product certification provides customized, turn-key product certification programs tailored to meet our clients’ unique needs. Our staff has extensive experience in code development, project execution and peer review. Certification programs are founded on technically defensible approaches that satisfy the most stringent requirements and reviews. You can trust in us and our commitment to be a transparent product certification agency. With over 15,000 individual product certifications to date and even more internal subcomponents, we knows what it takes to effectively execute projects.

Seismic Certification

Our seismic team provides a streamlined approach to certification or qualification of equipment for use in critical facilities such as nuclear plants, electrical substations, ambulatory care hospitals, and emergency response centers. These assets serve a critical function that must be maintained during and after an earthquake. Following industry codes and standards such as IEEE 323/344, IEEE 693, ICC AC156, and ASCE 7, we certify a seismic rating for even the largest, most complex equipment using our network of accredited test labs and/or our industry leading engineering analysis tools.

Wind Certification

Our wind certification services provide hurricane, tornado, and windstorm testing and analysis to the latest codes and standards to certify products and keep them fastened when the storm hits. Whether certification is achieved from windborne debris, static pressure, or wind tunnel testing or if an application requires a detailed wind analysis, we help our customers achieve the wind ratings needed to get their products approved on any project.

Blast and Impact

Blast and physical security testing and analysis covers products protecting military, civilian, and industrial facilities from terrorism or accidental explosion. Windows, doors, wall systems, and vehicle barriers are often required to meet stringent government standards and require carefully crafted combinations of testing and project-specific analysis. We help our clients’ products achieve compliance with these standards through our network of test facilities including explosive ranges, shock tubes, ballistic ranges, and crash facilities.

Harsh Environments (NEW)

Since TRU Compliance joined Structural Integrity in 2017, we began integrating SI’s services for harsh environment certification of electrical component for critical facilities. Our team in the Electrical Services Group (formerly Engineered Solutions Group) is a great solution for OEMs and utilities looking for the right qualification plan for stringent harsh environment specifications.

Structural Integrity Associates, Inc. announce acquisition of Tobolski Watkins Engineering

Acquisition immediately boosts capabilities in advanced structural analysis and equipment certification

For Immediate Release
May 19, 2017

San Jose, CA, USA – Structural Integrity Associates, Inc., is expanding its engineering leadership through the acquisition of Tobolski Watkins Engineering, a leading engineering consulting firm based in San Diego, California, along with its product certification company, TRU Compliance, based in Bend, Oregon.

Since its founding in 2008, Tobolski Watkins Engineering (TWE) has earned the trust of a wide range of clients for their services in structural, earthquake, and blast engineering of critical systems and facilities. TWE has routinely developed creative and robust engineering solutions to resist extreme event loading in industries such as nuclear power and defense, as well as for industrial, healthcare and government facilities. Key service offerings include structural engineering, earthquake engineering, advanced analysis for extreme loading and anti-terrorism force-protection consulting. TWE complements SI’s advanced structural capabilities by providing non-linear analysis in evaluating impacts from load drops to tornado borne missiles; fluid-structure interaction (FSI); and soil structure interaction (SSI) for safety-related facilities, structures, and equipment. Through TRU Compliance, TWE’s highly respected product certification brand, seismic, wind, and blast certifications are delivered to critical utilities and building systems, with emphasis on shake table testing and finite element analysis.

“We look forward to integrating their innovation, resources, and skills within the Structural Integrity organization by combining our structures groups along with TRU Compliance into a new Business Unit – Critical Structures and Facilities”, said Laney Bisbee, CEO of Structural Integrity. “Their mission, goals, and values for innovative solutions and top quality service closely match ours to make this expanded service beneficial to all clients.”

Moving forward, TWE engineers will continue to deliver industry-leading client service and technical solutions as part of the larger Structural Integrity team. “It isn’t often that I find a consulting engineering firm so well aligned with our culture, values, focus on innovation and commitment to the success of our clients”, said Matt Tobolski, PhD, SE, “I am personally excited to be part of the SI team and continue to deliver quality solutions that solve some of the industry’s most challenging problems. By combining forces, we will be able to offer expanded solutions to our clients and tackle larger projects throughout the world.”

Through the acquisition, Structural Integrity and Tobolski Watkins Engineering will expand its presence throughout the country with offices in San Jose, CA, San Diego, CA, Oakland, CA, Irvine, CA, Akron, OH, Austin, TX, Bend, OR, Charlotte, NC, Denver, CO, Parsippany, NJ and State College, PA, along with international affiliates in Canada, China, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan.

About Structural Integrity Associates, Inc:
Structural Integrity Associates, Inc. is an internationally recognized leader in the prevention and control of structural and mechanical failures, with a strong presence in the power generation industry. With headquarters in San Jose, CA, Structural Integrity serves clients worldwide through branch offices located throughout the US and Canada, as well as through affiliates located in China, Taiwan, Korea, Switzerland and Spain. Structural Integrity’s expertise encompasses a broad range of issues critical to the commercial success of both fossil-fired and nuclear power plants.

Please visit Structural Integrity at

Bud Auvil
Structural Integrity Associates, Inc.


Blast Certification of Doors & Windows

A Better Way: Blast Certification of Doors and Windows

The blast engineer faces a huge challenge when it comes to specifying blast products on a project.  Typical government buildings have multiple window and door types in multiple zones of blast intensity.   Since blast loads are specified with pressure and duration, no single parameter defines the performance criteria.  Door and window manufacturers work hard to market their products to government contractors, but are inconsistent in the way they present their blast rated products in a complicated web of static testing, dynamic testing, and engineering calculations that makes a contractor unsure the product actually meets the specs.

At TRU Compliance, we have experienced the frustration firsthand.  That’s why we advise our clients to test a limited selection of doors or windows to validate their whole product line, filling in gaps with site-specific engineering calculations.  Our certification meets the latest AAMA standards and we can support our clients through their sales process.  Every product certified comes with a TRU Certificate of Compliance and a product certification label that can be laser engraved or adhered to the product.

TRU Compliance is your go-to certification agency to make sure your products get noticed and to streamline submittal approval.  Call 844.TRU.0200 or go to to get started.


The History of Seismic Certification

Requirements for seismic certification date back to the early 1970s with regulations for nuclear power generating facilities and the need to ensure safe shutdown of critical systems following strong ground shaking. The requirements came about because of the significant risk to the public in the event of a failsafe system malfunctioning leading to reactor failure.

Over the years, seismic certification requirements have seen their integration into building codes and standards such as IEEE 693 for power substations (aimed at protecting our utility grid) and UFC 3-310-04 for critical government and military applications (with the goal of operation of key national defense assets).

The first major implementation of special seismic certification in the building code came with the 2000 International Building Code (2000 IBC). Although codified in the IBC, there had been limited enforcement of special seismic certification requirements under the initial 2000 IBC requirements until California’s adoption of the IBC in 2007 California Building Code (CBC).

Following California’s adoption, there has been considerable growth in the understanding, implementation and enforcement of seismic certification requirements, in part because of California OSHPD enforcement for hospitals. During the initial adoption of the 2007 CBC, OSHPD created the OSP preapproval program which has helped to create an extensive array of seismically certified mechanical and electrical components. The passage of time has seen consistently greater understanding and enforcement of code requirements across the United States and abroad.