Lesotho: Housing for the Elderly
SARID's Lesotho project, write-up below, is a Finalist, and is the winner of Judges' Special Commendation for Impact, and Novelty in
MIT Climate CoLab's "Buildings" contest.
You can watch a a three minute video of some of SARID's building projects, by clicking below.
or, to read our winning proposal and see a three minute video at the MIT Climate CoLab website, please Click below.
(Report last updated September, 2016 by Javed Sultan)
A Sisters of Charity of Ottawa (Lesotho) and SARID initiative
( All design, engineering, and construction management services were provided pro bono by SARID and its architects and engineers)
SARID has introduced a construction method/ process in Lesotho that provides for energy efficient homes that utilize renewable energy sources for heating and cooling. Most of Lesotho experiences freezing temperatures during winter and hot weather in summer. Most people live in unheated homes. It was built for elderly residents of a catholic charity.
It is a zero-energy home, except for occasional cloudy days in winter (for about 10% of the year). Both electricty and heating is through solar photo voltaic (pv) and solar hot water heaters. Construction of the above structure was started in January of 2015 and completed in July 2015. It offers a low tech affordable solution for poorer countries that experience extremes of temperature.
Structures Built in Lesotho and New Orleans in 2015:
Lesotho: This project serves as a proof of concept, and offers one strategy, for heating all kinds of small and large buildings with renewable energy sources. We were able to build this low carbon footprint home while keeping the first (construction) and life cycle cost (30 years) well below the cost associated with current building types in Lesotho. We have selectively used a concept called elastic skin, first developed for seismic structures by Javed Sultan (JS), to increase the resistance of buildings to seismic forces and internal stresses, and to reduce the use of cement and reinforcement - whereby you essentially bag the walls in a skin to mechanically (as opposed to using cementitious binders) hold the wall together. Initial results are very compelling with buildings showing no structural distress even after Richter 5.5+ earthquake. Our walls are hybrid structures - with multiple functions and capabilities. We intend to use this technique to resist large external forces such as flood waters, or earthquake, as well as to reduce the use of cement and steel reinforcement in non-seismic design. We believe we can duplicate these results in many regions of the world. All our structures have been designed in collaboration with US and foreign structural enginners.
Javed Sultan, our chief architect and engineer, designed and built a similar affordable single story flood resistant structure for the city of New Orleans in 2015. It was built in a previously flood impacted economically distressed area. It is similarly well insulated (Equalling or exceeding building code requirements: R-24 for walls, R-30 for roof, and R-19 for Floor), utilizes similar sandwiched insulation, re-usable formwork, poured-in-place concrete wall technique (no mortar joints - prevents infiltration of air or flood waters). Can be mass produced or manual labor driven. It uses less cement than conventional masonry structures. The two bedroom home, elevated above the base flood elevation, has a "Green" flat garden roof in lieu of gabled roof, the current practice in New Orleans, which reflects heat to the sky and contributes to global warming. The building requires very little supplemental cooling (air-conditioning) in summer months. (Since this work was done for a third party (not a SARID project), pictures of the completed building will be posted at a future date on a third party website)
The home is "Green", has a low carbon footprint, employs sustainable building practices, and uses less cement than comparable masonry structures. Home is made of non-combustible material, excepting for the roof. It is well insulated - utilizing waste (recycled) expanded polystyrene (EPS) as insulation, and has thermal mass in walls and floors - which double as heat storage devices. It utilizes reusable forms for shuttering to make the poured in-place walls (reduces cost of unit home - the cost of shuttering is spread over hundred's of homes), and utilizes recycled waste grass for thatch roof. It can be built using manual labor so offers employment opportunities as well as capacity building. It is for the most part dependent on Lesotho's internal resources and economy.
Amputees, Shepherd's, and Animal Shelter
(The picture on the right shows shepherd amputees with the author)
There is a need for warmer shelters in Lesotho, both for humans and animals. In remote mountain areas, during winter, shepherds heard their cattle and sheep in freezing temperatures. At night if they are far from home, especially if they are in remote mountain areas, they have one room (public) shelters for them to sleep in. Very often home and/ or medical help is sometimes a day's walk. These shelters have no electricity or heating, and quite often when shepherds sustain an injury, it leads to gangrene and amputation. There are a lot of amputees in Lesotho. Animals have no such shelter - they sleep in the open. A lot of animals are lost in the winter due to frost bite and cold. It is very possible for us to build self heated shelters for both humans and animals and provide electricity through solar or wind devices. It may be possible to provide gas for cooking through bio-digesters and/ or other renewable energy sources. Also egg production is usually down in winter due to unheated shelters for chicken and other farm animals. We could help in maintaining the egg production during winter by housing the chicken, and other animals in modest, but warm shelters for winter months. It will save a lot of animals, not interrupt poultry and egg production, and economically benefit the poor - and at the same time we will be recycling the waste, the EPS lunchboxes, and reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. See two projects, on the right side of the page, we are hoping to execute once funding is in place. ---------->>>>
(Picture on the right: Elderly residents in front of their new home with Sr. Theresia)
The structure on the right, built for Sisters of Charity of Ottawa - Lesotho, is an example of a building type that combines low tech with high tech solutions - is not fossil fuel dependent for heating or cooling. The building is heated using a passive solar hot water system (SHW-P) - water is gravity fed and there are no heating elements or use of fossil fuels.The home utilizes a solar hot water (SHW) system for heating during winter, as well as solar photo-voltaic(PV) panel for electricity. Building's construction (first) cost is below the cost of construction of current building types in Lesotho. The life cycle cost, over a period of 30 years, is half the cost of current building types. It can be mass produced using precast panel wall system, or labor driven - as in our case, thereby providing employment for the large unemployed and unskilled population. The same process and methodology can be used to produce larger single and muti-story structures.
(Picture on the right/ below is from Lesotho during winter. Large parts of the country experience freezing temperatures and snow fall during winter)
The home has thermal mass for storage of heat in walls and floor during winter months, and an underfloor heat exchanger (hydronic) to store and release heat at required intervals during a 24 hour cycle. As far as this home is concerned, and we suspect for Lesotho for the foreseable future, the SHW-P is a lot less expensive and "Green" option for heating the building than other available options.
Lesotho is a poor country in Southern Africa - located on a high plateau, and experiences extremes of temperature. Winter temperatures in most parts of the country are below freezing, and summers are very hot. Homes are poorly built, are un-heated and un-insulated, and not suitable for the climate.
Most people are unable to afford parrafin or electricity to heat their homes. The elderly and the infant are at the greatest risk for premature death during the bitter winter months. The few well to do who can afford to pay for heating their homes usually pay on the average 20% to 25% of their monthly salary during the winter months.
Lesotho has limited options as far as building construction goes. It is mostly treeless - because of poor rainfall, geology, and deforestation in the past for firewood. Wood is imported, it is expensive, and is a fire hazard. Hence people in these parts generally resort to masonry or adobe construction. The former is a poor choice given that masonry structures are poorly insulated - or are very expensive to insulate, and the later is comparatively more difficult and expensive to maintain.
The prototype home in this picture, built for the elderly, is managed by Sisters of Charity of Ottawa - Lesotho. It was built by unskilled villagers and high school students, in 6 months or so. Similar buildings in future will take a lot less time - as the reusable forms for the structure are now fabricated and people have learned how to use them. The workers were trained by SARID's architects and engineers. It has passive heating and cooling features and it is warm in winter and cool in summer.
It has thermal mass and it utilizes that property to store the sun's heat during winter. Insulated walls prevent the heat from escaping from the room. Most of the insulation is waste expanded polystyrene (EPS), recycled takeout boxes, that would have been burnt as trash. It also utilizes a solar geyser to heat the house, during severe sub-zero temperatures. The geysers also provides hot water for showers and laundry. The home houses four elderly people, and has an attached toilet and a kitchenette. Electricity is through Solar PV, thus making the building a zero energy structure for most of the year.
Besides the economic ramifications of not importing fossil fuels or electricity for heating, which money can be directed towards economic development, these homes are "GREEN", sustainable, do not contribute to global warming, while encouraging self reliance and creating employment opportunities for the unemployed population.
Given these issues in December 2014 SARID proposed to the Sisters of Charity Ottawa (SCO) to build a prototype structure which would be a non-wood, non-combustible (excepting for the roof), reinforced concrete structure, and which would be cheaper and comparatively more energy efficient. Walls above are only 30% concrete - the rest approximately 70% of the wall is made of waste and recycled material. The walls have an average insulation value of R-28 .
Further the building type relies on locally available building materials and taps into the large unemployed and unskilled population as a labor resource. It is anticipated that these practices would in the long term create employment opportunities in the construction sector and supporting industries. Lesotho would engage, mobilize and leverage its internal economy as opposed to relying on foreign aid and imported technology and value added goods and services.
The proposed building type for Lesotho represents a modest breakthrough not only for Lesotho but also for manysimilar poor and resource strapped countries in the world. The process may need to be tweaked to adapt to the country where structures are being built - but essentially it will lower the construction cost of buildings regardless of its geographical location. This has been the case in Haiti, Pakistan and Bangladesh and in New Orleans. The process can be adapted for seismic as well as high wind and tornado zones.
Teaching People to Build:
In order to teach the people how to build the above structures the SARID/ SCO team started by converting a small storage space into a vocational center. A small investment was made on mostly hand tools. The first batch of volunteers ended up building the above prototype over a 6 month period. Most of these volunteers had only secondary school education, were previously unemployed, and had little or no prior experience in construction. After training the volunteers had learnt carpentry skills, use of hand tools, and other building /construction skills. Seeing the enthusiasm of the volunteers SCO decided not only to provide free training but as an incentive also provided food and a stipend. The hope is that the skills learnt will improve
their chances of employment in the construction industry and perhaps make them capable of building a home for themselves.
The proprietary technology, intellectual property of SARID, was offered at no charge to SCO.
The structure is very well insulated, with an average heat resistance value of R-28 in the walls, and has utilized some 4,000 recycled waste polystyrene (Styrofoam) lunch boxes as insulation.
Currently these EPS ( expanded polystyrene) lunch (takeout)boxes are burnt, considered trash, causing an irreversible ecological damage, ozone depletion and contribute adversely to global warming. The above picture is typical how the lunch boxes are burned and disposed off. The building has thatch roof, sprayed with a fire retardant, and has an average heat resistance value of R-30. The thatch is also occasionally treated as waste material and burnt as well.
SARID is looking into other waste to recycle and incorporate within future structures and has done so in other instances........
Please click here to READ More .........or
Please click here to see a video of the process and completed interiors ( This video is an mp4 file. It is user friendly - you may pause, stop and play the video as you please)
(More detailed write up follows)...
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