Seismic Training Efforts Help Haitians Help Themselves
All S2H systems comply with U.S. codes. The buildings are designed to resist, at a minimum, magnitude-7 temblors and hurricane winds of up to 145 mph, with gusts up to 225 mph, says Stevens. Among other things, the system uses diaphragms for lateral-load resistance made from high-strength structural stucco cladding in lieu of drywall.
As much as possible, S2H tries to use local materials, including cement, sand, gravel, paint, doors, windows, hardware, plumbing and electrical fixtures. For the Miami-based non-governmental organization Cross International, a 1,418-sq-ft school cost $81,200.
To date, S2H-H has completed four dormitories at two sites, at cost. They house a total of 105 orphans. The company is under contract with Cross International to deliver 50 houses, about 10 of which are finished. S2H is also one of six companies prequalified to submit proposals to the U.S. Agency of International Development for a total of 15,000 houses.
Currently, the company imports the steel framing components from its Virginia plant for local assembly. But the builder expects to get a permit soon to set up a manufacturing facility. The company hires and trains Haitians to work on its projects.
In addition, S2H's charitable arm, a 501C3 non-profit called REACH, is working in Haiti, bringing in volunteers and hiring locals to rebuild. The model, which includes "voluntourism," says Stevens, is a variation on the Habitat for Humanity approach to building homes for low-income residents.
Hurricanes in 2008, not the quake, provided Stevens with the impetus to set up shop in Haiti. Since 2009, he has been trying to get government approval to manufacture 100% of the house components in Haiti and thinks he is close to his goal.
Cause for Celebration
In August, UniQ and UB celebrated the opening of the first building on campus to have a seismic design. The 5,000-sq-ft classroom building at UniQ replaced a large tent that functioned as a classroom—one of many used since the school reopened in April 2010. The temperature in the tents often exceeds 100 degrees F, says UB.
The two-story building was designed by a team from Uniq, including engineer-architect Alex Duquella, head of UniQ's architecture department, and Tingue Wolfield, a civil engineer who performed structural design. Ficones, a private contractor, built the building.
Both Duquella and Wolfield attended the UniQ-UB seminars. "These seminars taught me a lot regarding earthquake-resistant calculations and how to estimate/calculate the seismic loads and the special frames in reinforced concrete," says Wolfield, who is based in the capital.
"These are things that we ignored completely before these seminars, although we use construction codes such as IBC, ACI, etc.," he adds. "All these courses allowed us to improve the conception in earthquake-resistant construction and to raise awareness regarding earthquakes."