A new report finds that nearly one year after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the Republic of Haiti, concrete and other debris in Port-au-Prince can be safely and inexpensively recycled into strong new construction material. (Credit: ACerS Bulletin/Reginald DesRoches)

Nearly one year after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the Republic of Haiti, engineering and concrete experts at Georgia Tech report that concrete and other debris in Port-au-Prince can be safely and inexpensively recycled into strong new construction material. 

In a paper published in the Bulletin of the American Ceramic Society, researchers Reginald R. DesRoches, Kimberly E. Kurtis and Joshua J. Gresham say that they have made new concrete, from recycled rubble and other indigenous raw materials using simple techniques, which meets or exceeds the minimum strength standards used in the United States.

Most of the damaged areas of Haiti are still in ruins. The trio says their work points to a successful and sustainable strategy for managing an unprecedented amount of waste, estimated to be 20 million cubic yards.

“The commodious piles of concrete rubble and construction debris form huge impediments to reconstruction and are often contaminated,” says DesRoches, professor and Associated Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech. “There are political and economic dilemmas as well, but we have found we can turn one of the dilemmas — the rubble — into a solution via some fairly simple methods of recycling the rubble and debris into new concrete.”

DesRoches, who was born in Haiti, traveled several times in 2010 to Port-au-Prince to gather samples of typical concrete rubble and additionally collect samples of two readily available sand types used as fine aggregates in some concrete preparation.

He and Gresham also studied the methods, tools and raw materials used by local laborers to make concrete mixes. DesRoches recalls they encountered no mixing trucks. “Instead, all of the construction crews were manually batching smaller amounts of concrete. Unfortunately, they were mixing volumes of materials ‘by eye,’ an unreliable practice that probably caused much of the poor construction and building failure during the earthquake,” he says.

Before leaving, DesRoches and Gresham manually cast an initial set of standard 3-inch by 6-inch concrete test blocks using mixes from several different construction sites.

They returned to Georgia Tech with their cast blocks, sand samples and notes, where they were joined by Kurtis, also a professor and Chair of the American Concrete Institute’s Materials Science of Concrete Committee.

They quickly discovered that the concrete test samples cast in Haiti were of poor quality. “The Haitian-made concrete had an average compressive strength of 1,300 pounds per square inch,” says Kurtis. “In comparison, concrete produced in the U.S. would be expected to have a minimum strength of 3,000 pounds per square inch.

They then manually crushed the samples with a hammer to provide course aggregate for a second round of tests. In this round, they made concrete samples from mixes that combined the course aggregate with one of the two types of sands they had collected. However, instead of “eye-balling” the amounts of materials, in this round of tests they carefully measured volumes using methods prescribed by the American Concrete Institute. The materials were still mixed by hand to replicate the conditions in Haiti.

Subsequent tests of samples made from each type of sand provided good news: The compressive strength of both of the types of new test blocks, still composed of Haitian materials, dramatically increased, showing an average over 3,000 pounds per square inch.

“Based upon these results, we now believe that Haitian concrete debris, even of inferior quality, can be effectively used as recycled course aggregate in new construction,” says Kurtis. “It can work effectively, even if mixed by hand. The key is having a consistent mix of materials that can be easily measured. We are confident are results can be scaled up mix procedure where quantities can be measured using common, inexpensive construction equipment.”

DesRoches is pleased because recycling eliminates two hurdles to reconstruction. “First, removing the remaining debris is nearly impossible because there are few, if any, safe landfill sites near Port-au-Prince, and the nation lacks the trucks and infrastructure to haul it away. It is better to use it than to move it. “Second,” DesRoches says, “Finding fresh aggregate is more difficult than getting rid of the debris. It is costly to find, mine and truck in.”

The trio notes recycled concrete aggregate has been used worldwide for roadbeds, drainage, etc., and that many European Union countries commonly use 20 percent recycled aggregates in structural concrete. Published research by others has also demonstrated that the use of local-sourced recycled aggregate concrete production can be more sustainable.

Because of the urgency of quick and safe reconstruction, the researchers urge that recycling the debris quickly move from proof-of-concept to large scale testing. “More work must be done to characterize the recycled materials, test additional performance parameters and gauge the safest ways to crush the rubble. Seismic behavior and building codes must be studied. But, these tests can and should be done dynamically, during reconstruction, because the benefits can be so immediate and significant,” says DesRoches.

DesRoches, Kurtis and Gresham say they plan on sharing their research with Haitian government officials and nongovernmental organizations working on reconstruction projects. DesRoches is hopeful that a debris strategy and infrastructure will eventually emerge from the government once the disputed presidential elections in Haiti are resolved. “Some think that many rebuilding projects have on hold for the past few months because of distraction from the elections. The next round of elections is this month, so it soon may be possible to accelerate reconstruction.”

Source: Science Daily


One week from today, on March 29, I’ll be headed back to Haiti with my partner in Haiti Orphan Rescue Program, Mike Mahon. We’ve spent the last months raising money for future orphanage reconstructions. We’re looking forward to seeing our good friend Pascal Bain, the director of the Melissa’s Hope Orphanage, the first HORP project completed last year. This mission will take us through the suburbs of Port Au Prince as we search for the next orphanage project and Pascal, fluent in both English and Haitian Creole, will be assisting us.

Jean Pascal Bain Director MHO

Here are before and after photos of our first Haiti orphanage project, Melissa’s Hope Orphanage.

Melissa's Hope Orphanage Before

Melissa's Hope Orphanage after

More than 500,000 children remain in orphanages and shelters after the earthquake of January 2010. Our mission at HORP and as builders is to help the orphanages directly by improving the living conditions for the children and caregivers who reside there. Here’s how to learn more about Haiti Orphan Rescue Program.

Yes, it’s time to travel to Haiti to rebuild and remake another suffering orphanage. Mike Mahon, my partner in Haiti Orphan Rescue Program, and I will be traveling to Haiti end of March for a final look before choosing our next renovation project. A build project in Tabarre we’d launched was recently picked up by the UN, which was wonderful news. And it leaves us with the time and funding for another orphanage renovation. We hope you can support us in our efforts by going to the HORP website where you can find information about HORP’s Haiti success and how to contribute. We’ve managed to make it easy through our Pay Pal account, but we’re always happy if you send us a check through snail mail as well.  So go here and DONATE please. In truth, there are thousands of orphanages that need our help and we could be doing SO MUCH MORE. We just need the funding. So tell your friends, your neighbors, family, everyone you know that that you know of a charity that is REALLY making a difference in Haiti. Haiti Orphan Rescue Program is an 501c (3) tax deductible non profit. Help us help Haiti’s Kids. Visit us on Facebook.

Fabulous Calecho, by the award winning design and build team recently featured in Architectural Digest, is newly priced for sale at $2,790,000. For those looking for a second home in Breckenridge, Calecho is perched majestically above the Breckenridge Golf Course and Gold Run Nordic Center on a sunny lot that is the envy of the rest of the Highlands neighborhood. Those searching for a sound investment will find Calecho priced to sell with fantastic rental numbers and a growing list of return vacationers. Everyone who visits Calecho “can’t wait to come back.”

Ornichleel "Leel" Ulysse, a Haiti earthquake survivor, learning how to ski at The Hartford Ski Spectacular. (Photo: Business Wire)

The Hartford Ski Spectacular is a week long event here in Breckenridge, from December 5th – 12th, that teaches 800 men, women and children with physical disabilities how to ski and snowboard. The Hartford Ski Spectacular, in its 17th year, will be held at the Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center and Breckenridge Ski Resort.

This year 11-year old Ornichleel (“Leel”) Ulysse, a below-the-knee amputee who was injured in the January earthquake that struck her home in Haiti, is one of the many children who are learning how to ski at The Hartford Ski Spectacular. Ron Gendreau, executive vice president of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc, said “We are so excited to have Leel as our special guest at The Hartford Ski Spectacular. Her strength and courage have inspired us. We hope that by learning new skills, she’ll build confidence and take key steps on the road to recovery. Leel and the other men, women and children here embody our Ability Philosophy – that success is possible when you focus on abilities, not limitations.”

To learn more about how to help young Haitian children who suffered in the January earthquake please visit The Haiti Orphan Rescue Program (HORP).

The people of Haiti are suffering yet another blow this week. It was reported by CNN that “Chaos reigned north of Haiti’s capital Friday as hospitals overflowed with people rushing to get help from a fast-moving cholera outbreak that has killed at least 138 people.” Cholera, caused by a bacterial infection of the intestine, can occur from drinking water or eating food contaminated with the infected bacteria. Without proper treatment those experiencing symptoms can die within hours. As earlier mentioned, 138 people died in the 48 hours after the first reported case and another 1,526 people have become infected. “This outbreak is likely to get much larger, given our experience with cholera in the past,” said Dr. Jon K. Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization.

The Haiti Orphan Rescue Program (HORP) needs your help now more than ever. It is becoming increasingly important to build adequate permanent shelter for Haitian orphaned and abandoned children. By providing proper shelter we can help eliminate the conditions in which an outbreak can spread.

Visit HORP to learn more about this worthy cause and to contribute through programs like the “Adopt an Orphanage” and “HORP Ambassadors.”

On January 12, 2010 an earthquake hit Haiti and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes affecting the lives over 1.5 million of its population.  Last week the Republic of Haiti unveiled a design competition unlike any other.  “Building Back Better Communities” invites architects and builders from around the world to compete in a two part contest to create homes on a 12-acre former sugar plantation outside Port-au-Prince.

Applicants may apply to both contests.  The deadline for the first lot is Monday, June 28th, 2010 at 5:00 EDT.For more information about Building Back Better Communities, visit the Malcolm Reading website.

If you are interested in helping to support building permanent shelter for Haitian orphaned and abandoned children please visit The Haiti Orphan Rescue Program (HORP).

Trilogy uses a team approach on each project. We rely on long standing relationships with our design and build partners to bring about the best results for our clients. And we rely on a very talented and hardworking Trilogy crew to supervise design, construction, and interior design with outstanding results.  That being said we thought we would have each member of our team answer a few questions so you can get to know them a little bit better.

Michael Rath

  1. Year Joined Trilogy: 1998
  2. Position: Managing Partner
  3. Education: Williams College
  4. Other work Experience: Financial Markets, Independent Film Making in New York
  5. Favorite Things: Happy Clients, unique projects and creativity, Colorado when it’s warm and Hawaii when it isn’t
  6. Best Trilogy Moment: Finishing our first house and selling it the next day. WE WERE IN BUSINESS.
  7. The worst thing about working here is: Working outside when the weather is cold, and paperwork
  8. The best thing I’ve learned is: Think outside the box. Always. Create, don’t repeat.
  9. Where do you want to be in 5 years: Here, there, and everywhere designing great homes, working with amazing clients, finding just the right piece of furniture in a market in Bali.
  10. Most notable memory while at Trilogy:There have been so many. Not long ago I was driving across the Mojave desert from California pulling a Uhaul full of very expensive Japanese furniture for one of our clients. We could not find a shipper who could deliver in time to move the clients into their new home by Christmas, so not only had I purchased the furniture, I was delivering it.The phone rang and it was Melinda, our operations manager. She had called to tell me that Trilogy had won Summit County Builder of the Year. I thanked her for calling and went back to driving. It would have been nice to have been at the awards ceremony, but it was also great to be getting the furniture back to Colorado.

    Suddenly there was a car behind me honking its horn. Lights flashed and the car pulled up along side me. I was going about 80 miles an hour as the passenger rolled down his window and shouted something at me. I couldn’t hear, and he shouted again. He pointed back and suddenly it dawned on me. I quickly pulled over and ran to the back of the trailer. Yes, the door somehow had come wide open. But somehow, not one stick of furniture was lost.

    That was a good day.

We also wanted to mention that Michael is co-founder of  Haiti Orphan Rescue Project and was recently in Haiti where he is helping to build sustainable children’s communities.  Click  here to learn more on how you can help the Haiti Orphan Rescue Project.

With more than 220,000 killed in the January 12th earthquake and an estimated 2 million living in temporary shelters, Haiti’s future is being discussed at both the United Nations and in Congress.

The United Nations has estimated the total building cost around $11.5 billion and Haiti was hoping to raise around $3.9 billion to cover the initial phase at the March 31st International Donors’ Conference towards a New Future for Haiti at the UN Headquarters.  Other nations are stepping in to help as well, President Obama is asking Congress for more than 2.8 billion to help the nation recover and The European Union has pledged some $1.6 billion for Haiti’s reconstruction.

Below are the opening remarks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke at Haiti donors’ conference on March 31st,

As we move from emergency aid to long-term reconstruction, let us recognize that we cannot accept business as usual. What we envision, today, is wholesale national renewal … a sweeping exercise in nation-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations.

Making a difference in the lives of Haiti’s children is Trilogy Build’s own Michael Rath, who is headed to Haiti this month with HORP (Haiti Orphan Rescue Program).  Their mission is to support orphanages and build sustainable children’s communites in Haiti.  According to HORP’s website, “HORP plans to develop children’s communities to include durable housing, clinics, classrooms, gardens, and recreational space. Skills Centers and micro business development will encourage community involvement and funding. HORP volunteers in Haiti will work with local laborers.  Our skilled trades volunteers will spend as much time teaching as they do building.  Most of our contributions will go toward local purchases of building materials, supplies. Our contributors can take ownership in our program by sponsoring to build a kitchen for $400 or an entire complex for $40,000.”

Current living conditions in Haiti. HORP is hoping to repair mosquito netting before the rain sets in.

John and Dr. Mike

Please visit the HORP website if you’d like to make a difference in the lives of these children.

965 N Ten Mile Dr. , Unit A1 Frisco, CO 80443
Phone: 970-453-2230

Email: information at trilogybuilds dot com
Facebook: TrilogyPartners
Twitter: @trilogybuilds
Instagram: trilogybuilds
Youtube: The Trilogy Partners Channel
Houzz: trilogy-partners