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Build Change Haiti - Days One and Two
Build Change Haiti - Day One I landed at 7:15am and was picked up by the Build Change Logistics Manager Gregory at the airport. Build Change is an organization that is currently working in Haiti. The goal of Build Change is to work with local Haitians on improving the evaluation, retrofit, design, and construction practices. Haiti currently doesn’t have a building code to implement or enforce minimum building standards. Therefore, people build however they have been building in the past. This method tends to leave out critical elements of the structural system to stretch the owner's money. Gregory told me that currently the Build Change staff in Haiti in nearly 80 people, most of which are Haitian like Gregory. Prior to this position Gregory was working for an insurance company. Now keeping track of the logistics for nearly 80 people, plus foreign volunteers, keeps him very busy. However he loves the work and is excited about building changes into the Haitian community through the group's efforts. Most of day one was meeting with the staff, learning names, and understanding their procedures. Beyond providing our structural expertise, Degenkolb also can and does provide valuable experience on office structure. For instance, how to track individual projects, which have owners involved and a staff engineer assigned to each. We also offer assistance on determining at what point it is best to have quality control checks by a more experienced engineer on the designs to spot early problems in the evaluation or retrofit process. This will allow for less rework and more discussion for the best solution. Build Change is currently working with a Dutch NGO called Cordaid, and the work load that is expected of the Build Change group is high, so efficiency and quality control is a priority. When you consider that all of the Build Change engineers, except for a few main staffers, are just beginning training in structural evaluation and retrofit design, this is a big task. A few of the trickier structures are left aside for Degenkolb to assist with in determining the best potential retrofit. In the afternoon three of us drove to one of the two main projects sites in an area of Villa Rosa to evaluate one of these remaining challenging structure. We met with the owner and evaluated the structure. Our current evaluation is based on a structural check list and Haiti evaluation manual developed by Degenkolb over this past summer. Mark Sinclair spearheaded this effort. After talking through a few of the best solutions we spoke with the owner of the home to understand her priorities in terms of layout and uses of each space. Build Change knows the values of having the owners involved and buying into the process, so this interaction is an extremely important step. Currently there is discussion of aid money coming to each owner of yellow and red tagged structures which were damaged during the earthquake in January 2010, but the amounts have yet to be determined. Therefore the owner will be responsible for whatever costs remain. If the owner is not onboard then the chances of the retrofits actually taking place are reduced.Day One ended for me around 8:30pm.Build Change Haiti - Day Two The majority of my day was providing a six hour follow up training session to the newest group of ten Haitian Build Change engineers. In August Jennifer Gross and Gordy Wray provided the first training session. In this session we focused on each item in the evaluation checklist and the options available to retrofit noncompliant items. Many of these items were brand new concepts to these guys, so the discussion were great. Initially it was thought that this training would only last 2 hours, but these guys were so eager to learn that the discussion and sketches just flowed. At one point it was time for them to go and I asked if they wanted to stop, but instead they wanted to keep going with examples. By the end of the session different Build Change engineers were marking up their ideas on the white board on how to retrofit the problem I created for the discussion. Tomorrow these same engineers and I will go out in the field to practice these new skills on real structures that need to be completed for Cordaid. Outside of the retrofit manual are other engineering items that Build Change leans on Degenkolb to provide. Today's item was guidance on sizing and framing light weight roof structures for some new buildings that would be hurricane resistant. Build Change would like Degenkolb to create simple guide for their construction team to use and supply. In typical Degenkolb fashion I first walked through the basic principles of the design so there was a good understanding of the solution. Then as a team we started working through provided what was needed for the most economical design. It looks like I might be meeting and providing training in regard to the evaluation check list on Friday to 60 UN OPS engineers. This meeting is still in the works, but looks very promising.
Filed Under: Community, Degenkolb
Posted by noblestudios on September 21, 2011 10:16 AM
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