Hausler, CEO and founder of the nonprofit Build Change, designed a reconstruction solution to combat building collapses during natural disasters, potentially saving thousands of lives.
A lack of building standards in many developing countries can lead to poorly designed and constructed homes that collapse when earthquakes strike, displacing, injuring and killing people.
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti claimed hundreds of thousands of lives when the 7.0 magnitude tremor crumbled homes into rubble.
Hausler created a six-step process for home reconstruction that yields sturdy, economically and culturally feasible buildings, which she has been implementing since 2004.
Empowering Homeowners to Rebuild
Build Change’s model is based on simplicity. Beginning with a thorough examination of a region’s unsafe housing issues, Hausler’s team makes slight adjustments to the original building construction plans rather than overhauling an area’s traditional architectural structure.
Build Change helps community members work with locally available materials and labor to rebuild. The outcome is a cost-effective, easily modified, and most importantly, culturally accepted construction method the homeowner adopts and understands.
Build Change homes cost anywhere from $3,000 to $17,000 less than similar structures built in donor-driven environments.
Build Change educates and trains anyone who will play a role in the rebuilding process, including homeowners themselves, materials vendors, engineers and builders. The nonprofit also works with local governments to instruct officials on the technology, helping to enforce the reconstruction model as a new building standard, reducing community resistance and leading to further implementation.
A distinguished panel of scientists, technologists, engineers and entrepreneurs selected Hausler as the winner of the prestigious award, which honors individuals whose technological innovations improve the lives of impoverished people in the developing world, in addition to being economically viable and scalable. Hausler will accept the award and present her work to the public at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the Lemelson-MIT Program’s fifth-annual EurekaFest, a multi-day celebration of the inventive spirit, June 15 – 18, 2011.
Seeking Nominees for 2012
Moving forward, this award will be renamed to better reflect its recent focus on individuals whose technological innovations improve the lives of impoverished people in the developing world. The award will continue to seek nominees who can inspire youth to solve challenges in the areas of basic human needs and sustainable livelihoods for the world’s poorest populations. Nomination information for the 2012 $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation is now available at http://web.mit.edu/invent/a-award.html.