Simpson Strong-Tie Fellow Update: Adventures into Safer Building in Indonesia

Build ChangeUncategorized, NGO Partners - Indonesia, Engineering, Engineering explanations, retrofitting, Indonesia, Bricks, Simpson Strong-Tie, travelLeave a Comment

by Dr. James Mwangi, Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Excellence Fellow 2017-18 Arriving on the other side of the Pacific The journey to Padang, Indonesia started on August 3rd, 2017 in San Francisco, California with connections in Manila, Philippines and Jakarta, Indonesia. I arrived exhausted but excited in Padang on August 5th after almost 24 hours in the air. Padang is the provincial capital of West Sumatra and lies just south of the equator. The high temperatures are usually in the low 80’s, with lows hovering around the mid-70’s (Fahrenheit). I arrived in what is said to be “dry season” (May-September), although … Read More

Meet the First Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Excellence Fellow with Build Change

Build ChangeUncategorized, Engineering, Timeline, Build Back Better, Homeowner-driven reconstructionLeave a Comment

Originally posted by Paul McEntee on August 17, 2017 on the Simpson Strong-Tie Structural Engineering Blog Introducing James P. Mwangi, Ph.D., P.E., S.E. – our first annual Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Excellence Fellow with Build Change. James Mwangi will write a quarterly blog about his experience throughout the Fellowship. I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute this post and feel honored to be the first-ever Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Excellence Fellow with Build Change. It’s my hope that this post will inform you about my professional background, why I applied to the Fellowship and how I think the Fellowship can benefit people and the structures they live, … Read More

On Being Women in Engineering

Build ChangeEngineering, retrofitting, women, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recoveryLeave a Comment

Women play a crucial role in post-disaster reconstruction. In Nepal, where the population is 51% female, this has become especially apparent. Many women have taken on new roles and responsibilities since the earthquakes in 2015, and are at the forefront of permanent reconstruction efforts to build a safer future for their families, communities, towns, and cities. At Build Change, we have always placed a special emphasis on working with, hiring, and training women in the traditionally male-dominated fields of engineering and construction. Currently, 37% of Build Change global technical staff is female (compared to an international average of 11% of … Read More

Retrofit Type Design Approved: A Turning Point in Nepal’s Reconstruction!

Build ChangeEngineering, Advocacy, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstructionLeave a Comment

completed retrofit house

An estimated 500,000 Nepali earthquake-affected homeowners in Nepal can now choose to retrofit their damaged homes. In doing so, an estimated 2.5 million lives would be made safe from future earthquakes and 30 megatons of construction materials, and 1 billion USD could be saved. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) approved the retrofitting type design submitted by Build Change for stone masonry buildings in mud mortar on June 4th, 2017, after review by Technical Committee including representatives from the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and leading Nepali structural experts. By approving this retrofit type design, the Government of Nepal opens the … Read More

Damages from the Pidie Jaya Earthquake: School Assessments and Checking in on Build Change-advised Houses

Build ChangeEngineering, Build Change history, Indonesia, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

Day 4 – 22 December 2016 in Pidie Jaya District Today we had a chance to join the government team that conducts assessments for school buildings. Their team is divided into three groups, each with an engineer from the Ministry of Public Works, and a representative from each of BPKP (Financial Investigation Agency of Aceh Province), BNPB, and DepEd Pidie Jaya. The team will assess 54 schools that are reported to have high or moderate damage by the school staff. Schools which are deemed highly damaged will be demolished and replaced with a temporary emergency school. We split our team … Read More

Aceh Earthquake Response Day 3: Brickmakers and Damaged Buildings in Meredeu & Bandar Baru Sub-districts

Build ChangeEngineering, Indonesia, Better Building Materials, Bricks, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

  Today we visited two more affected sub-districts in Pidie Jaya. In the morning we went to Bandar Baru sub-district and visited two schools. The buildings are confined masonry, and include teacher housing. Walls have collapsed in a few of the classrooms and the library building. The damage that we found in those two schools are quite similar to the damage at the schools we visited earlier in the week: cracks in the walls near windows and doors, and separation between columns, beams, and walls. One of the buildings with teacher housing has metal roof framing and metal sheet roof … Read More

Reports after the Pidie Jaya Earthquake – Day 2 : Damages in Pidie Jaya and Trianggadeng

Build ChangeUncategorized, Engineering, Indonesia, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

In the morning we went to the Pidie Jaya District to meet with the head of the district’s Department of Education (DP). On our way there, we observed some damaged buildings, most of which had suffered wall, column beam, and roof collapses.             We met with representatives from the Ministry of Education, UNICEF, and Save the Children. They are collaborating to build 13 emergency school buildings. They are currently completing structural assessments and intend to complete the construction by December 25, 2016, as requested by the President. The designs have been prepared by the Ministry … Read More

Damages from the Pide Jaya Earthquake Day 1: Bieruen District

Build ChangeEngineering, Indonesia, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

Our reconnaissance team is composed of 3 Build Change staff and our driver Danu. Danny is the technical team leader for our current better brickmaking program in Lubuk Alung, West Sumatera. She also led the technical team in our previous technical assistance program in Aceh Tengah in 2015. Elwahyudi is a technical supervisor who is also currently involved in the better brickmaking program with Danny. We left Sunday at noon from Padang and flew to Medan. We then drove for about 10 hours to Bireuen, one of the three districts that were affected by the earthquake on December 6th in Pidie … Read More

After Hurricane Matthew: Investigating Housing and School Damages in Beaumont & Les Cayes

Build ChangeEngineering, Haiti, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

Today we visited the city of Beaumont located between Jeremie and Camp Perrin in the mountains. We met the Mayor of Beaumont, who described a similar situation as that in Moron. The main street of the town was not very affected by the hurricanes. The majority of the houses and commercial shops are made from unreinforced masonry with heavy roofs. We went with a municipal agent to visit the outskirts of the town. In this area, ­ 80% of houses were made from wood frame and stone masonry infill and 20% were constructed from unreinforced masonry. We saw again here … Read More

After Hurricane Matthew: Assessing Damages in Moron

Build ChangeEngineering, Haiti, Better Building Materials, Post-disaster ReconnaissanceLeave a Comment

Today we drove from Jeremie toward the mountains in the middle of the Grande Anse department. On the bumpy road along the Grande Anse River we saw dozens of houses with heavy damages from the hurricane. The houses are mainly constructed with a wood frame and stone masonry. The wind force shocked the buildings, provoking the fall of the top corners of some walls and cracks near the column joints. The use of mud mortar to place the stones is insufficient to tie the stone together well. We saw houses that withstood the hurricane better when they were plaster with … Read More

Day 3 & 4: Manta, Crucita and Portoviejo- A Look at Mixed Use Buildings and Sharing Knowledge

Build ChangeEngineering, Engineering explanations, Post-disaster Reconnaissance, EcuadorLeave a Comment

On May 3rd, we went with Gen. Ruiz and Ing. Flores into the barricaded area of Manta, the neighborhood of Tarqui.  This area had the most damage and was a mix of large to small commercial buildings and hotels, plus multi family and single family houses (some mixed use). Many of the small and medium sized buildings that had collapsed were already demolished and some were being taken down while we were there.   There were buildings with very different performance on the same block and the reason for the difference in performance was not obvious.  Additional investigation is needed … Read More

Day 2 (Part 2): Canoa and Jama- Analysis of Damaged Homes and Schools

Lizzie BlaisdellEngineering, Engineering explanations, Post-disaster Reconnaissance, EcuadorLeave a Comment

After Canoa, we next headed north to Jama, another coastal town.  In Jama we selected a street in town and compared the building type and performance of each, one-by-one.  There were 7 houses, some with commercial space below.  Six houses were wood framed, 2-stories, and one was reinforced concrete, 3-stories. Of the wood framed, 5 had masonry infill at the ground floor and 1 had bamboo lath with plaster overlay at the ground floor.  Four had wood only walls at the upper level while two had mixed wood and masonry infill walls at the upper level.  In general of the … Read More

Day 2: Canoa and Jama- A First Look at Damaged Schools

Lizzie BlaisdellEngineering, Engineering explanations, Post-disaster Reconnaissance, EcuadorLeave a Comment

This morning we met with Ing. Hermel Flores, owner of Hermel Flores Construcciones and former chair of the Ecuatorian Chamber of Construction, and General Florencio Ruiz Prado, Director of Citizen Security for Manta, in Manta.  We discussed our activities, the situation and the presentation they coordinated for us to give on Tuesday and Wednesday, in Manta and Portoviejo, respectively. Ing. Flores traveled with us next up north towards the epicenter.  The coast of Ecuador is in the highest seismic zone of the country.  There are RENAC sensors located up and down the coast which recoded the accelerations in the recent … Read More

Day 1: Guayaquil to Manta- A First Look at Damaged Houses

Lizzie BlaisdellEngineering, Engineering explanations, Post-disaster Reconnaissance, EcuadorLeave a Comment

May 1st was our first full day in Ecuador, after landing in Guayaquil on April 30.  Our team has three members: Traveling from our Bogota office there is Juan Caballero, architect and Director of Programs and Partnerships for Latin American, and Walter Cano, structural engineer and Project Engineer for Colombia.  From the U.S./headquarters there is Lizzie Blaisdell, structural engineer and Director of Engineering. In Guayaquil, we saw little evidence of an earthquake.  According to the preliminary report on the Instituto Geofisico website (http://www.igepn.edu.ec/) a strong motion sensor near Guayaquil, “AGYE” experienced a maximum ground acceleration of 23.04 cm/s2 (approx. 2%g) while … Read More

Saving Lives through Retrofitting in Colombia

Build ChangeUncategorized, Engineering, retrofitting, ColombiaLeave a Comment

Click here for link to Autodesk Foundation video. “We can build buildings to withstand earthquakes. The knowledge and technology are out there. We just have to make it accessible to everyone.” – Elizabeth Hausler Strand, Founder & CEO, Build Change In Colombia, we are working with city governments, the private sector, and homeowners to repair and strengthen homes before the next earthquake strikes. Retrofitting saves lives by ensuring that houses will protect families and children from future natural disasters. We started out retrofitting a single house in Bogotá, Colombia, to provide an opportunity for local training and to demonstrate feasibility. Jorge Prada’s family now lives … Read More

Vocational Training Changes Lives

Build ChangeEngineering, NGO Partners - Haiti, womenLeave a Comment

“I want to advise other young women like me to not choose only nursing, accounting, or secretarial work. Dare yourself to learn other trades,” Widleine George says. She stands outside in her construction training station, where she demonstrates proper techniques to trainees and oversees the masons’ progress. “I receive a lot of respect because of my position, because it’s not typically a woman’s job,” she says. “I want to advise other young women like me to not choose only nursing, accounting, or secretarial work. Dare yourself to learn other trades.” Widleine comes from Carrefour-Feuilles, one of the areas of Port-au-Prince that was severely damaged by the earthquake in … 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