Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

RE: International Building Practices & the United Nations

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
This is a good and timely question. 
The UN sponsored an effort that was part of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) in the 1990's in which I participated.  Indigenous construction practices and materials were a major portion of that effort.  There was a lot of consideration about how to marginally modify existing practices to resist earthquakes.  PR is unique in that they also must design resistance for hurricanes.  There was supposed to be a comprehensive IDNDR report, but I think it was not funded. 
In order for Haiti to recover quickly and effectively, they need to rebuild critical infrastructure using preassembled packaged facilities that can be flown in and set up or use indigenous construction practices that are modified to provide additional safety for earthquakes. Unreinforced masonry is the common material in countries that economically challenged.  The more earthquake resistant materials are a luxury.  Unreinforced masonry is still standing in Italy after 2,000 years of earthquakes. It is just a matter of accepting indigenous practices and provide enhanced design for those materials.
Rebuilding Haiti's construction practices overnight is not realistic for a recovery of this magnitude. Preassembled building units, modular construction, and packaged unitized construction are all viable methods. Foundations on helical anchors can be installed in a matter of minutes.
The US military has unique knowledge and expertise in expeditionary structures for the military and with critical infrastructure. FEMA US&R Task Forces drop in and have living quarters, medical facilities, lights, food, water, toilets, showers, etc. in insulated tent structures designed to resist hurricane wind loads and are set up and functional in a matter of a few hours. US&R Task Forces can operate in the field with no outside aid for up to 2 weeks.
The recovery effort is critical and urgent.  Hurricane season in Haiti will start in a 4 months. Colorado State University's Dr. Bill Gray and Dr. Phil Klotzbach predict a more severe season for 2010. The hurricane season starts June 1.

Massive defoliation will exacerbate the problem as it did last year.  Civil engineers need to develop methods to control the storm water and implement them today.  The clock is ticking. There is a strong potential that this disaster will be compounded unless there is a SERIOUS effort now. 

Regards, Harold Sprague


From: davea(--nospam--at)
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 2010 08:04:36 -0800
Subject: International Building Practices & the United Nations

Hello all,


I’m pretty sure I’ve asked this before, but it would have been years ago and I can’t seem to locate my notes on the subject.  Is anyone aware of any studies done by the U.N. on building practices in developing countries with an emphasis on the quality of locally-available building materials?  With the disaster we are seeing in Haiti, it seems as though a study such as this, with some positive movement towards a solution, would be a very practical pursuit for the U.N. … but that may not really be their purview, I’m not sure.




Dave K. Adams, S.E.
979 N. Blackstone Street

P.O. Box 1059
Tulare, CA  93275

Direct Line:  (559) 688-5263

Direct FAX:  (559) 688-8388

E-Mail: davea(--nospam--at)




Hotmail: Powerful Free email with security by Microsoft. Get it now.