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Natural Building:
The Key to Affordable Housing

by Dr. Owen Geiger

There needs to be much more focus on sustainable housing solutions that benefit average people. According to the UN, approximately 1.2 billion people lack adequate shelter. The main problem is lack of affordable housing.

Natural building can play a major role in addressing the current unprecedented housing crisis. Everyone can have safe, decent, debt-free housing by using locally available, natural building materials such as straw, earth, earthbags, bamboo, stone and sustainably harvested wood. Also, using recycled materials is encouraged.

Natural building is the logical solution to the housing crisis. There is simply no other way to create affordable housing for all those in need. Highly processed materials such as concrete, steel and synthetic materials are beyond the reach of many and cause great harm to the environment.

Other ways to reduce costs and facilitate affordable housing projects include:
- use compact and simple designs (KISS - Keep it Small and Simple)
- incorporate passive solar design and other energy-efficient features
- utilize low tech solutions such as rubble trench foundations, earthbag or stone foundations , and earth for floors, plaster and built-in furniture
- utilize existing skills in the community as much as possible
- encourage solutions that are based on local needs and resources. Emphasize local control, community building, collaboration, self-empowerment, and sustainable grassroots solutions.

The Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building at www.grisb.org is devoted to finding solutions to the world's housing problems. We believe the answer lies in education - helping others help themselves.

Owen Geiger, Director of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building at GRISB.org and Kelly Hart have teamed up to create EarthbagBuilding.com and the Natural Building Blog.

This article was first published at Amazines: www.amazines.com/Construction/article_detail.cfm/735638?articleid=735638

 

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