All-women team making Vancouver more resilient to earthquakes

Vancouver faces a 1-in-5 chance of experiencing a serious earthquake within the next 50 years. Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) student members at the University of British Columbia are working to keep Vancouver citizens safe in the event of a catastrophic earthquake.

Students Stephanie Koenig, Emi Webb, Adele Therias, Halina Rachelson and Leah Karlberg are participating in ESW’s Resilient CommUnity Design Challenge (CommUnity) –  an international program that unites college students to collaborate with local organizations on solutions to build local resilience.

The all-women team created the “NeighborHud” to empower community members to prepare for a major earthquake with their neighbors. The structure will not only disseminate resources, first aid and information, but serve as a social meeting point for community members. The “NeighborHud” is designed to engage local residents in community water monitoring and in developing emergency preparedness plans.

The design features solar-powered LEDs for nighttime visibility, filtered water stations from collected rooftop rainfall, and bike generated power for users to charge their cell phones.  

Local artists will be invited to codesign the “NeighborHud” to reflect the ideas and cultural diversity of the community.

Students were inspired to take on earthquake resilience after surveying the lack of preparedness of their own community. Adele Therias states, “It is important that people prepare themselves and their families, but it will be most effective if neighbours support each other.”

CommUnity has been run for two years and have seen the development of 15 innovative solutions to build community resilience. Through the program Adele says that she has met “inspiring community leaders and experts who have shown me the passion, energy and collaboration needed to build resilience.”

You can read more about CommUnity here: