Perhaps the most promising aspect of the system is that it can be retrofitted to existing buildings using readily available materials. The team hopes the technology will not only save countless lives, but will greatly soften the economic and environmental costs earthquakes can exact on societies. Even directly after a violent quake, buildings remain habitable, keeping humanitarian disasters at bay. Meanwhile, the technology adds to a community's sustainability, as tearing down and rebuilding half a city's buildings requires tons of landfill space as well as new concrete and construction materials. Being on the top floor of a building as it shakes free from its foundation is a scary thought, but the alternative is indisputably worse.