Ricardo A. Alvarez is an internationally recognized expert, consultant, researcher and educator in the fields of Vulnerability Assessment, Hazard Mitigation and Risk Management. Over the past fifteen years Ricardo has directed or participated in more than 1,200 vulnerability or mitigation-related projects in the United States, mainly in Florida, and abroad.
Ricardo has been a student of climate change for the last twelve years after he became interested in the topic as a slow-acting natural hazard that may affect hurricane formation and intensity, which will influence the way hurricanes impact the built environment. In 1998 Ricardo was the managing director of a major conference: “Climate Change and Extreme Events”, which was funded by NOAA and sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology and by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. This conference was one of several regional conferences conducted around the country in 1998-1999 as part of an effort to assess the impact of climate change on the United States mandated by the Congress, which led to a National Assessment of Climate Change delivered to the Congress in January of 2000. Ricardo authored a white paper that set the theme for discussion at this conference, under the title “The Need for Action to Confront Potential Consequences of Global Climate Change on a Regional Basis”
Ricardo has collaborated with the Center for Environmental Studies (CES), at Florida Atlantic University, on a program of research and outreach in climate change directed by Dr. Leonard Berry, the CES Director, since 2005. He is scheduled as a speaker and panelist on the subject of “Converting Research Findings into Action” at an international conference on climate change in May 9-11, 2007 organized by the CES.
Ricardo has written, spoken and been interviewed often on the topics of climate change and global warming over the past nine years. He contributed to the study titled Climate Change Impact on the United States – The Potential Consequences of Climate Vulnerability and Change: a Report published by the National Assessment Synthesis Team sponsored by the U.S. Global Change Research Program in 2001. He was a contributing author to the peer-reviewed Feeling the Heat in Florida – Global Warming at the Local Level a study published October 2001 by the National Resources Defense Council. He was the lead reviewer of Trouble in Paradise: The Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity and Ecosystems in Florida by Adam Markham, published by the World Wildlife Fund in July 2001. In May 2003, Ricardo wrote a short paper titled Climate Change Impact in Coastal Florida.
Ricardo studied at the University of California at Berkeley, the California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, California, and at the Central American Institute of Business Administration [sponsored by Harvard University and the regional governments], in Managua, Nicaragua. He has degrees in Architecture and Environmental Design, and in Advanced Management. He has been an adjunct professor of Vulnerability Assessment and Hazard Mitigation for the Master in Construction Management program in the College of Engineering at Florida International University since 1995, and is an adjunct professor of Risk Management and Mitigation for the Crisis Management MBA program at Florida Atlantic University. His topics of discussion and class projects for these courses always include the topic of climate change as a slow-acting-hazard that need to be mitigated. Additionally he has also taught at the Emergency Management Institute run by FEMA in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on the subject of Hazard Mitigation.
Ricardo is a researcher who has focused on Residential Construction Mitigation for the past ten years, having received research grants from the Florida DCA, FEMA, the Florida Dept. of Education, the Office of Naval Research, the World Bank and various private sources both in the USA and abroad. Ricardo’s research resulted in a modification to the Florida Building Code – High Velocity Hurricane Zone that was approved in 2004 and became effective in 2005. This modification changes the standard for nailing roof sheathing, improving the performance of roofs under hurricane impact by a factor of up to 130% WITHOUT increasing the cost of construction.
In 1995 Ricardo, as a private consultant, developed and proposed the concept of Sheltering-in-Place: an Alternative to Evacuation for Hospitals which was endorsed by Miami-Dade County and the State Division of Emergency Management. Ricardo has consulted or completed Vulnerability and Mitigation assessments for several major hospitals throughout Florida including Tampa General Hospital, Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Baptist Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Miami Children’s Hospital and others.
From 1997 through 2001 Ricardo developed and offered seventeen major seminars on issues related to hazard mitigation, vulnerability assessment and emergency management under the Hazard Mitigation and Emergency Management Certificate Program a continuing education effort of FIU. In 2001 acting Research Ricardo developed and implemented the concept for a Florida Alliance for Hurricane Mitigation that brought together eight of Florida’s public universities and set the foundation for major research funding. From 1999 through 2004 Ricardo served as Deputy Director of the International Hurricane Research Center, where he founded the Laboratory for Structural Mitigation
Over the last ten years Ricardo has developed, hosted and managed several major conferences and workshops including the Hemispheric Congress on Disaster Mitigation and Sustainable Development (1996) for which he was the Managing Director. The Climate Change and Extreme Events Workshop (1998) sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Global Change Research Program and funded by NOAA’s Office of Global Programs, and the Hurricane Andrew 10th Anniversary Summit hosted by Florida International University on 2002.
In 2002 Ricardo and his wife Marcia, an Educational Psychologist and Florida Certified Teacher, launched a program for K12 schools in South Florida known as Developing a Culture of Mitigation through Education a.k.a. the K12 PROJECT, designed to teach kids and their parents about the concepts of hazards, vulnerability, damage and mitigation. The project was recognized by FEMA and the State DEM as an example of Best Practices in Mitigation at the 2005 Governor’s Hurricane Conference. In 2000 Ricardo hosted a workshop for K12 teachers on the topic of Integrating Climate Change Content in K12 Education, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ricardo serves on the Miami-Dade County Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) Working Group, the Miami-Dade County Terrorism Mitigation Committee, the State Hazard Mitigation Plan Advisory Team, and is a Board member for the Hurricane Warning Project in Deerfield Beach.
Recently Ricardo was invited by the Governor of the State of Quintana Roo in Mexico to conduct damage assessment and explore opportunities for mitigation in Cancun and the so-called Maya Riviera, after the impact of hurricane Wilma in 2005.
Ricardo maintains an active schedule of public service as a speaker for major conferences and various community groups, while also being a frequent guest or subject expert for the electronic and printed media on subjects ranging from disaster mitigation, building codes, hurricane resistant construction or climate change.
Ricardo is married, has two children, enjoys reading, playing golf, photography [mainly orchids and landscapes], pen and ink sketching, and collecting antique art glass, bronzes and Depression glass. He has been a resident of North Miami Beach, Florida since 1979.