Greening the Housing Sector – in India

Photo by Jeffrey Jose

This article from ExpressIndia.com outlines some considerations for building Green Housing in India.

– How is the house oriented? Are areas with large windows facing direct sunlight?

– Is there appropriate roof insulation or shading to keep the heat out?

– Is the building material locally-available?

– Are there ways to conserve water and tap rainwater sources?

Check out the article for other ideas. Use those ideas in your proposal at sheltersforall.org!

Building with Industrial Waste: Gypsum

Photo by Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden

Is gypsum the future of sustainable housing in some areas?

A recent CNN article outlined the use of gypsum — a byproduct from coal mining — in the housing development in South Africa. Peter Gunther, AngloAmerican‘s leader of sustainable development, is states, “But there is a serious housing shortfall here, and we have so much gypsum, that once we decided we needed to do something with it, making a strong building material was the obvious choice.”

Gypsum is water soluble, so while it is a strong binding agent when dry, if it gets wet it weakens. To overcome this problem, the builders mix gypsum with cement to make the bricks water-resistant.

Is gypsum the future of sustainable housing? Or do you have a better idea? Submit your idea at sheltersforall.org.

Kenya Railways Update Leads to New Housing

File Photo from the Business Daily Africa

In Kenya, an update to the railway system provides for the relocation of thousands of people to protect their safety. Because of the location of the train — only a few meters from the nearby dwellings — the trains must slow to a creeping speed to protect the people living nearby.

The Kenya Railways upgrade includes the creation of 3,129 single-roomed houses, 1490 of which will include a kitchen, sleeping area, and toilet on the upper floor and trading stalls below. The units will be connected to water and power.

Check out the article here. If you have another great idea for sustainable urban housing, consider submitting the proposal for a chance at over $15,000 (USD) in prizes at http://sheltersforall.org/.

Science on a Mission: Engineering in Haiti

Photo by Alexandros Taflanidis

A recent blog post on the Scientific American website discusses how researchers from the University of Notre Dame are working to conquer problems of sustainable housing in Haiti.

Civil Engineering Professors Alexandros Taflanidis and Tracy Kijewski-Correa were asked to travel to Haiti to give aid and advice after the 2010 earthquake. After seeing the devastation, Kijewski-Correa reported that the problem was beyond the buildings; in an interview, she said, “Cultural and economic factors need attention. We can’t just provide building codes.”

Read the article to find out more, or check out their project website at Engineering2Empower.

Kenya: Innovative Designs

Photo by Laura Kroft

Here is an interesting article about innovative urban building projects in Kenya. The authors outline that the project extends far beyond just building sustainable housing — it also must focus on micro-loan and other financing options to empower those who are impoverished. “Each unit costs between Sh150,000 to Sh200,000, with potential homeowners required to raise a ten per cent down payment and the local Muungano Savings Group lending the individual a further ten per cent. The remaining 80 per cent comes from the credit agency Akiba Mashinani Trust. The homeowner is expected to gradually pay off the loan by means of the daily savings scheme with an interest rate of six percent.”

We’re continuing to look for innovative housing project designs for urban dwellings. Check out our website at www.sheltersforall.org to contribute. You can be the one to change the future for these individuals!