What’s wrong with this picture?

Build ChangeGordon, NGO Partners - ColombiaLeave a Comment

By Gordon Goodell, Build Change Chief Operations Officer Feb. 27, 2014 Years before I came to Build Change I worked on a mountain rescue team. The first rule for rescue is “My safety, and the safety of my team.” At Build Change we work to limit our risk to the extent possible by ensuring that all buildings we use are seismically safe. By the nature of what we do, most of our staff at Build Change spend a lot of time in zones of high seismic hazard. We make our best effort to ensure that offices and other buildings rented by … Read More

Is it safe to build houses from straw, tires, or plastic bottles?

Build ChangeGordon, EngineeringLeave a Comment

Sure, if they’re designed and built to be safe in earthquakes At Build Change we mostly teach people to build masonry houses or timber houses. We do not use plastic bottles, tires, straw bales, earth bags, or any number of other approaches which have been touted as environmentally-friendly, cost-effective methods to rebuild devastated areas. Why? What’s wrong with homes made from waste materials? Or plastic bottle houses? Or straw bale houses? Well, nothing, really. A lot of argument goes on over whether one building system is better than another, particularly in the seismically active zones where we work. There are … Read More

Why don’t we use premade homes?

Build ChangeGordon, EngineeringLeave a Comment

The problem we have at Build Change is that the destruction in the wake of major natural disasters is so huge and the need to rebuild is so great, that we don’t have enough hands to rebuild it all. Teaching local people how to build an entirely new, unfamiliar structural system, whether it is earthships, plastic bottle homes, or precast concrete panels, adds unnecessary work to an already enormous task. Instead, we choose to work within the systems and designs the local builders already know and use. We teach about lateral systems and connections, which make structures able to withstand … Read More