It is hard to begin a day’s work with a warm cup of coffee, a clean office and a (fairly) new computer … knowing about the devastation in another country.  I heard the death toll in Haiti could be as high as 50,000.


According to a BBC news article this morning, experts say that it is "no surprise that shoddy construction contributed to the level of destruction in Haiti  following Tuesday’s earthquake."  The primary reason: "It’s sub-standard construction . . . There aren’t any building codes as we would recognise them," says London-based architect John McAslan, who has been working on a project linked to the Clinton Global Initiative in the country.

Also to blame is a lack of quality in building materials and cost-cutting measures for construction.  For example, "[p]eople are skimping on cement to try to cut costs, putting a lot of water in, building too thin, and you end up with a structure that’s innately weaker," said Peter Haas, head of the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group, a US-based non-profit group that has been working in Haiti since 2006.

What should our response be to a devastation like this?  First, we need to help through international aid organizations like the American Red Cross.  You can find a donate link here.  Second, we can start to learn that "best practices" is more than a buzz word.  In the construction industry, it is our job to promote good building standards, use quality materials, and work together with those less fortunate to help build a better future. 

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people and their families in Haiti.