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Overview of a community-based approach Safer schools: Retrofitting projects Schools in hazard-prone places should be safe regardless of who funds, builds or maintains them. Achieving safety is straightforward when schools are designed according to strong building codes and constructed by well-trained professionals under robust systems. A community-based approach is equally applicable to retrofitting projects, which aim to strengthen existing unsafe school buildings. Retrofitting projects are crucial where school buildings were built using poor safety standards or were not well maintained. In this document, safer school construction refers to both new and retrofit construction projects. For many school projects, however, achieving safety is not straightforward. Existing school buildings may be vulnerable to hazards because the building was: In many contexts, building codes may lag behind current best-practice models. The codes may not even apply to common construction practices or may not exist at all. Those who work on school construction projects may lack proper training or be unfamiliar with the life-saving techniques for making schools safer in hazardous regions. Construction oversight may be perfunctory or non-existent. • Designed and constructed with no consideration of building codes. Where the location and quality of school buildings routinely puts students and staff at risk, building a new school or retrofitting an existing school should be more than a construction project – it should become an important community-wide learning process. Results should not only include a safer school but build a more resilient community with the knowledge and skills to reduce the risks from hazards they will face in the future. New construction Retrofit construction Strategic planning and mobilisation Strategic planning and mobilisation Site selection Survey and prioritise existing schools Design Evaluate existing structure and design retrofit New construction Retrofit construction Operation and maintenance Operation and maintenance SECTION II: OVERVIEW SECTION II: OVERVIEW • Designed according to an earlier code, which has since been upgraded. • Designed to meet modern codes, but deficiencies exist in the construction. • Not originally designed as a school. • Designed and constructed well, but was modified inappropriately. Fundamentally, the decision to build new schools or retrofit existing schools stems from a combined engineering and economic analysis. Assuming the number students has remained constant, the core question is whether the cost of applying the necessary retrofits will be less costly than constructing a new school. If the analysis reveals the new construction is cheaper, teams often choose to dismantle the old school and rebuild. Most key principles of community-based school construction projects apply to retrofitting projects, but the stages are slightly different. Site selection is replaced with a survey and prioritisation process (See the the case study in Section III: Planning). When creating a retrofit design, the design team must first understand the building’s weaknesses. The team should collect and analyse building data from architectural and structural drawings, design calculations, material properties, details of the foundation and geo-technical reports. The design team can then compare this building information with expected hazards and calculate what retrofit interventions are necessary to ensure safety. 20