The building system is flexible and modular so it will permit design of structures of varying sizes and shapes. Sisters will now be able to help villagers by allowing them to use the technology and the formwork, at no cost or a small fee, to help build their winterized homes.
The structure is very compelling as far as first cost, energy efficiency, employment generation, carbon footprint, and other desirable attributes are concerned. Since the results are positive SARID will work on adapting the technology for rural housing as well as for institutional buildings such as schools, clinics and hospitals, and other structures.
Sisters of SCO put lot of effort in collecting the lunch boxes, as the picture on the left shows, from wedding gatherings and funeral parlors, cleaned them, and packaged them for inserting into the walls. The polystyrene lunch boxes are normally burnt, producing green-house gasses. This environmental damage occurs in many countries around the world including Haiti, South Africa and Namibia. So adoption of SARID's building technology will reduce global warming and recycle an ubiquitous waste. It will also allow the country to sell carbon credits to more advanced, high carbon footprint, industrialized countries.
The technology has involvedconsiderable initial investment by SCO in hand tools and formwork, workshop space, teaching aid, and other fixed assets. SARID's efforts have involved decades of research into building technologies. SARID has provided technical services and personnel time on a voluntary basis. SARID also spent considerable amount of money in research and development (R&D) effort to come up with a less expensive solar water heating system so homes could use passive heating technology.
Lesotho and many other countries with similar climate needs a robust structure that can stay warm in winter without the use of fossil fuels. In Lesotho - the lack of adequately warm shelter in areas that get freezing temperature for extended period of time, results in life threatening injuries. because of a lack of timely access to clinics and hospitals, the only way to save these folks is to amputate their injured limbs - and you do find a lot of amputees in Lesotho.
If SCO - SARID team get the support they need, the team plans to develop structures which will eventually benefit people in many countries - and will eventually result in very well insulated, affordable,energy efficient buildings.
SARID has previously built in seismic and high wind zones, and has experience in building in advanced and developing countries. See this website for SARID's project in other countries.
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Javed Sultan, Executive Director
(The above article was written by Javed Sultan, project manager of the initiative, a licensed architect in USA. He has a Masters in Architecture and Civil Engineering from MIT, USA and has previously worked in Africa, Asia and USA)