Build Up Nepal Engineering, which has been supporting rebuilding in earthquake-hit districts, has won the prestigious Ashden Environment and UN STI Awards for introducing eco-friendly, disaster resistant building technology in the country.
“There’s growing momentum for a green recovery from coronavirus, one that escapes the failures of the past and propels us toward a low-carbon future,” said Ashden CEO Harriet Lamb during the video celebration featuring 11 winners from the UK and developing countries. “Our award winners are bringing clean energy to the world’s poorest people and creating sustainable buildings and transport.”
Following the 2015 Nepal earthquake that saw over 800,000 buildings collapse across 15 districts, Build Up Nepal was set-up with the aim to empower affected communities to rebuild on their own.
The team introduced climate-friendly Compressed Stabilised Earth Bricks (CSEB), a cheaper and stronger substitute of kiln-baked bricks that also helps reduce emissions and air pollution.
CSEB is manufactured from sand, clay and cement mixed in a 5:4:1 ratio. By using locally available materials, the cost of construction is reduced by 25%.
The interlocking ability of the compressed blocks, when reinforced with iron rods, can also make structures earthquake resistant, so that it is an ideal construction technology for Nepal.
“Interlocking brick is a highly suitable construction technology in Nepal, reducing cost of construction as well as carbon footprint from building a house. With this technology Nepal’s houses can be stronger, more affordable and its air cleaner,” said the Build Up Nepal team following their win at Ashden and UN STI.
Interlocking bricks, which was first tested in earthquake-affected areas, has now spread to more than 300 villages across the country, building 4,500 homes and creating 2,500 jobs. The blocks are more sustainable than traditional fired bricks, and the scheme has already prevented 20,610 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere.
Build Up Nepal has supported 250 rural entrepreneurs and community to start their own construction enterprises and produce bricks using local materials. It has also helped women become construction entrepreneurs by giving them machinery, training and support to build homes from compressed-earth blocks.
The interlocking brick technology has also been promoted by development organisations such as DFID, Practical Action, DCA and Oxfam.