The Happy Face of Retrofitting – Corina Sutter in Nepal

Build ChangeEngineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Corina Sutter is Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at RMS, and is based in London. She joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Corina’s account of her time in Nepal. When you think about strengthening a building to make it more resilient to seismic events, does “retrofitting” come top of mind? And if you have heard of retrofitting, do you know why it is more cost-effective and in many instances more suitable than simply rebuilding? This awareness challenge is what Build Change faces in Nepal; with regards to retrofitting … Read More

Using Catastrophe Models to Promote Resilience

Build ChangeEngineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Tom is a Senior Product Manager in the Model Product Management team, focusing on the North Atlantic Hurricane Model suite of products. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Tom’s account of his time in Nepal. Arriving in Kathmandu for the 2018 RMS Impact Trek, I was already aware of the many years that RMS has provided support for Build Change and its work in areas worst hit by catastrophic disasters. Our first day in the Build Change office was a crash course in their … Read More

An Unexpected Opportunity: Presenting at the Fifteenth National Convention of Engineers in Nepal

Build ChangeEngineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Jochen Woessner is a lead modeler in earthquake model development at RMS, and is based in Zurich. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Jochen’s account of his time in Nepal. “I am sorry, you have only five minutes, please focus on the conclusion of your work,” said the convener G. Pokharel to Liva Shrestha, the local lead structural engineer for Build Change and myself when we sat down on the panel chairs of the session entitled “Disaster Risk Management and Prevention”. This session was on day three … Read More

Reducing Disaster Risk in Paradise: Engineering Excellence Fellow in the Philippines

Build ChangeEngineering, retrofitting, Philippines, Better Building Materials, Concrete Blocks, Simpson Strong-Tie, travelLeave a Comment

Since March 2018, I have been working with the Build Change Philippines team in Metro Manila. The island country is absolutely breathtaking, and the team here is incredible! The Technical Projects In early April, I conducted a presentation for the Philippines team on my previous experience with Build Change, as well as my experience with retrofit programs in emerging countries outside of the organization. The team of engineers in the Philippines is well-versed in retrofitting techniques as well, as that is the primary focus of the team at the moment. I have also spent some time reviewing and making comments … Read More

Rural Retrofitting in Nepal – Christopher Allen’s 2018 RMS Impact Trek

Build ChangeUncategorized, family story, Engineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Christopher Allen is a senior analyst – model development, working with the Event Response team at RMS, and is based in London. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Chris’s account of his time in Nepal. On Wednesday, March 21, eight somewhat-still-jetlagged RMS Impact Trekkers left the Summit Hotel in Kathmandu bound for the village of Dhunkharka, three hours’ drive southeast of the capital. We were going to see some of the retrofitting work that was being done by Build Change, a social enterprise partner of RMS … Read More

Peter Cormier – 2018 RMS Impact Trek in Nepal

Build ChangeUncategorized, Engineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Pete Cormier is a lead cat analyst for Liberty Mutual, and joined employees from RMS on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Pete’s account of his time in Nepal.  In March 2018, I spent 10 days with a team in Nepal at the invitation of RMS to volunteer with Build Change, a non-governmental organization (NGO) which is helping the rebuilding efforts following the April 2015 earthquake. The massive Mw7.8 earthquake caused approximately 9,000 deaths, 22,000 injuries and damaged more than one million homes, schools, and businesses at a cost of US$10 billion, which is about … Read More

Lusi Huang’s Nepal Impact Trek Diary

Build ChangeUncategorized, Engineering, retrofitting, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact Trek, travelLeave a Comment

Lusi Huang is a Risk Engineer for Chubb North America and joined employees from RMS on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Lusi’s trek diary. Day 1: Sunday, March 18 One of the first things that strikes me when arriving in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is that the traffic is just like a bowl of spaghetti, a true jumble — there’s no traffic lights, no center line, all uneven road surfaces. Life in Kathmandu means that you just need to be patient. Another initial observation, solar power is big here, surprisingly there are … Read More

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

3 Organizations, 8 Volunteers, and 500,000 Damaged Houses: How Autodesk Foundation, Team4Tech, and Build Change are Collaborating on Efficient Earthquake Recovery in Nepal

Build Changeretrofitting, Better Building Materials, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstructionLeave a Comment

An estimated 500,000 houses are only partially damaged after the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal. That means out of 750,000 houses estimated to be damaged or destroyed, 2/3 of them are still standing but cracked and unsafe for people to use. These homeowners are not in need of newly constructed houses, but an opportunity to save as much of their original house as possible and strengthen it through retrofitting. Retrofitting is an innovative and cost-effective method of seismically strengthening existing houses by strengthening structural elements and stabilizing the current structure, making them earthquake resistant. An estimated 2.5 million lives would be … 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

RMS Impact Trek Nepal 2017: Exploring Bhimtar and Eklephant

Build ChangeUncategorized, retrofitting, women, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact TrekLeave a Comment

Contributed by Caroline Fox On our first day in the field we headed up to Bhimtar, a rural fishing community about 45 minutes from the main road and where we are staying.  Bhimtar was badly impacted by the earthquake, with most houses completely destroyed.  Since the earthquake occurred just before midday on a Saturday, most people were down by the nearby river and children were not in school.  All buildings in the village were destroyed, killing most livestock, but fortunately human fatalities were limited to the few people who had stayed inside.  Looking around the village it’s difficult to see where the original houses once were with rubble mostly cleared, … Read More

Not Just Houses, but Homes: What it means to be “homeowner-driven”

Build ChangeUncategorized, retrofitting, women, Nepal, Build Back Better, Post-disaster recovery, Homeowner-driven reconstruction, Impact TrekLeave a Comment

Contributed by Hailey Mitchell Have you ever thought about building your own house? Not just selecting the finishes, assembling IKEA furniture, or maybe laying a bathroom tile or two. I mean really starting from scratch: removing soil, mixing concrete (by hand), tying steel rebar, laying blocks… Would it change the way you felt about the building? Now imagine doing this in the wake of immense tragedy while you are living in a temporary shelter. This is exactly what is being done in villages across Nepal. But how? And why? My interest in participating in the Impact Trek (aside from the … 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