One month after the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Institute of Architects announced the search for the Architecture for Humanity Sustainable Design Fellow to lead AFH's sustainable rebuilding efforts in Haiti, Stacey McMahan, AIA, LEED AP, has been appointed to the fellowship. McMahan will work directly with community members on the ground in Architecture for Humanity's Rebuilding Center based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
USGBC, AIA and AFH recognize that this crisis presents an unprecedented opportunity to learn from the reconstruction work and improve disaster responses elsewhere in the world and here in the U.S. McMahan's work on the ground in Haiti will be vital to future education on how sustainability after a disaster can be achieved.
"Sustainability needs a strong voice in Haiti's reconstruction," said Eric Cesal, Regional Program Manager for Architecture for Humanity in Haiti. "Faced with urgent needs on the ground, there is always a temptation to do it fast, instead of doing it right. We expect McMahan will help us do both."
As a partner/principal at Koch Hazard Architects, McMahan is the Green Studio Director and has worked intimately with the firm's entire LEED project portfolio. McMahan is passionate about sustainable design and as she finds fulfillment in utilizing her skills to help others. Through the Sustainable Design Fellow program, McMahan will be working collaboratively with a team of design and construction professionals, countless volunteers and leaders of the local government to ensure that the reconstruction is based upon the key principles of green building including high-performance, structural integrity, higher energy and water efficiency and better ventilation quality for occupants.
"Out of this horrific disaster should come improved building practices, strengthened building codes, and stronger, safer buildings that also address green building and sustainable planning," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. "Without a doubt, Stacey McMahan will put to practice her knowledge of LEED and sustainable design principles, as well as her passion for helping others toward making these new buildings safer and more durable for the people of Haiti."
Chief among McMahan's responsibilities will be to provide tools and training for safe and sustainable construction both to the informal trades and by increasing local professional capacity through training and assistance as a path to mitigating similar building failures in the future.
"Witnessing the incredible devastation in Port-au-Prince, it's only natural that hope is a rare amenity among the citizens of Haiti. The timing in my life was right to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to use my skills and experience for the good of others, and in that respect I also became aware that it was not enough to remain a bystander," said Stacey McMahan, AIA, LEED AP. "So with the blessings of my husband and business partners, I'm diving into an adventure of a lifetime. My year there may be short or long, but I plan to use this opportunity to meet a lot of people, make many connections, and do what I can in furthering the idea and practice of building with sustainable strategies in urban Haiti. My experience with LEED has transformed the way I look at buildings and the process of building - it is an incredible tool."
According to a February 4, 2010 brief by the United Nations, the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that ravaged Haiti in January of this year killed up to 300,000 people and destroyed over 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings. The United Nations estimates that over 1 million people are in urgent need of shelter/infrastructure, and has referred to the situation in Port‐au‐Prince as "perhaps the world's largest urban humanitarian crisis."
"Stacey brings the best the architecture profession has to offer to this new assignment," said AIA President George H. Miller, FAIA. "Her talent, skill and compassion, combined with her intense dedication to the design process, will help the people of Haiti rebuild their nation in a way that prevents a tragedy of this magnitude from ever happening again."