Elizabeth Hausler: Building change

Berkeley Engineering 150

Elilzabeth Hausler amid earthquake rubbleIn 2001, Elizabeth Hausler (M.S.’98, Ph.D.’02 CEE), then a doctoral student at Berkeley, heard that a 7.7-magnitude earthquake had struck the state of Gujarat, India — killing more than 20,000 people and destroying almost a million homes. Knowing that the collapse of buildings had caused much of the destruction, Hausler wanted to improve the safety of homes and schools in developing nations.

After spending eight months in India as a Fulbright scholar, studying the post-quake rebuilding process, Hausler launched Build Change in 2004. Its mission: design disaster-resistant structures using inexpensive, local materials, then train homeowners and craftsmen in best construction practices, so they could continue building homes well into the future. Since then, Build Change has worked in twelve countries — providing safer housing and schools for more than a quarter of a million people, training nearly 28,000 in the basics of safe construction and creating over 12,000 local jobs.

Hausler, now the CEO of Build Change, said: “When I started Build Change, it was an engineering challenge, but also a social justice issue. Because I think everyone deserves the right to a safe house, regardless of their income.”