Sustainable Unit



SUMMARY: Currently we have built a 12 foot Super-Adobe Dome and trained 20 people over the course of 5 weeks in this technique. We have also built a Super-Adobe bench. We have built a 30,000 liter ferro-cement tank and trained about 10 people in this technique over the course of 2 weeks. We have planted over 600 native trees as part of an agro forrest. We are allocating about 0.5 hectares, or 1.25 acres, of land to this project. The “Mandalla” will take 2500 square meters. The Home about 50 square meters. The rest will be used for the water harvesting system, composting toilet and solar panels and/or windmill. “Chapada”, where we have the land, has a very specific climate with a dry season and a rain season, very clearly marked. Construction needs to happen during the dry season. We have estimated the construction of the house in 8 to 12 weeks; dry toilet, 3 to 5 weeks; rain water harvesting 4 to 8 months, Mandalla permaculture basic construction and planting 4 to 8 weeks, and finally the solar and wind energy system another 4 to 8 weeks...

The estimated costs are:
Mandalla with 60000 liter tank in 2500 square meter area US$ 3500 50 square meter
Super-Adobe Eco-Dome US$ 5500
Water harvesting system US$ 3500
Composting Toilet + wastewater composting system US$2500
Robust Solar electric system US$ 7500
The rest of the budget will go to the production of training materials We believe we can have the “Sustainable Unit” operational in about 30 months, from the start date. Additionally we intend to test the system by actually living there for at least 6 months and documenting the experience. Additional funds will go to the production of on-line training videos, so people can learn how to implement these technologies remotely.

PROBLEM SPACE: In 2005 an approximated 1 billion people did not have suitable housing and 100 million were totally homeless. Half the world's population is living in unsanitary conditions without access to clean water, according to an UN-backed report. More then one billion of them have no access to safe water at all. The most recent estimate (2006) of the FAO (put in what FAO stands for) says that 854 million people worldwide are undernourished. This is 12.6 percent of the estimated world population of 6.6 billion. Most of the undernourished-820 million--are in developing countries. Around 1.6 billion people around the world live with no electricity at all and have to rely on wood, dung and agricultural wastes for their energy needs, which has made indoor air pollution one of the world’s top 10 causes of mortality or premature death. Around the world, small farmers are losing their land to large agribusiness and are being forced to move to big cities, adding to the disastrous situation of slums and ghettos. Furthermore the global financial and environmental crisis adds to this equation. The Solution, “Sustainable Unit”, is a comprehensive, integrated design solution to the art of “livingry” that has training and empowering local people at its core. It is aimed at rural families of the developing world, but also serves as a prototype for sustainable family life in the 21st century. Its objective is to provide families with their basic needs of shelter, food, water, energy and sanitation in a sustainable fashion. The techniques applied in this unit are widely used throughout the world; the originality of this project is looking at them in synergy, in an integrated manner. “Sustainable Unit” uses local materials and employs simple techniques that can literally be taught to anyone. The unit can easily grow in to an eco-village, further lowering costs. This empowers people to become truly free and independent, while still encouraging communities to flourish.

SOLUTION: "“Sustainable Unit” is a comprehensive solution to the art of “livingry”.It looks at bio-construction, food production, rain water harvesting, ecological sanitation and solar energy in a holistic manner. It is comprehensive as it looks at all human needs in an integrated manner. It is anticipatory as it provides a sustainable model of leaving completely of the grid. The feasibility and verifiability are clear, as all of these technologies have been implemented successfully separately. Furthermore almost all the work can be done with simple tools such as shovels and rakes. It will be replicable, as we are looking in to documenting the entire process, so to create online videos that could be used for training in different locations.
 Finally the “Sustainable Unit” is ecologically responsible as it uses local materials, minimizes transportation needs, produces food organically, cleans its water through a natural system and explores a holistic way of living.

CONTACT: Joao Amorim,