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GEM Building Taxonomy Version 2.0

This report documents the development and applications of the GEM Building Taxonomy

The purpose of the GEM Building Taxonomy is to describe and classify buildings in a uniform manner as a key step towards assessing their seismic risk. Criteria for development of the GEM Building Taxonomy were that the Taxonomy be relevant to seismic performance of different construction types; be comprehensive yet simple; be collapsible; adhere to principles that are familiar to the range of users; and ultimately be extensible to non-buildings and other hazards. The Taxonomy was developed in conjunction with other GEM researchers and builds on the knowledge base from other taxonomies, including the EERI and IAEE World Housing Encyclopedia, PAGER-STR, and HAZUS.

The Taxonomy is organized as a series of expandable tables, which contain information pertaining to various building attributes. Each attribute describes a specific characteristic of an individual building or a class of buildings that could potentially affect their seismic performance. 

The report illustrates the practical use of the Taxonomy by discussing example case studies, in which the building-specific characteristics are mapped directly using GEM taxonomic attributes and the corresponding taxonomic string is constructed for that building.  

The Taxonomy is accompanied by TaxT (see sidebar links), a computer application that enables a user to record information about a building or a building typology and it generates a taxonomy string. A companion online Glossary provides both text and graphic description for various Taxonomy attributes.


attribute, building taxonomy, building typologies, terminology, vulnerability