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Execution report of the Project

ECOCASAS in Honduras
January 2009
Introduction

As its main goal, this project aims to “contribute to the sustainable development by
concretely improving the house and its environment, making it comfortable and worthy
for its inhabitants and simultaneously reducing the pressure on the environment such
as the sources of energy and water”
It intends to do so by building two sample houses in order to “demonstrate such
houses to the wider public then to have ample market studies done on a topic hardly
known by people”
As initially intended, the two sample houses were built in Honduras.

Before After

Quality of walls in the “compressed earth blocks”
house before and after STRO’s intervention
through the use of earth compressed blocks.

The conception of the idea for this project is by itself a remarkable contribution to the
development and dissemination of ecological practices in Honduras, which was
possible through the crucial support from TRIODOS Foundation. The development of
the concept and design of the compressed earth blocks house was possible due to the
remarkable support of RRE Energy and Tjerk Reininga from Bear Architecten. The
implementation of the project in Honduras took place through the crucial participation
of our local partner FUNDEVI (Fundacion para la vivienda social rural y urbana), who
provided the space necessary to materialize the initial idea of the project, making
remarkable contributions through its invaluable staff and participation. Habitat for
humanity Honduras also played a leading role providing supervision for our first

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experience in working with compressed earth blocks, through the participation of its
highly qualified staff.
Implementing this project was a very challenging experience in the sense of breaking
pre conceptions of traditional cost efficient construction techniques and alternative
provision of basic services, that have been improved technically in relatively recent
times, but that have been neglected due to lack of experimentation and dissemination.
But the true reward lies on a very enriching experience that took place in terms of
discovering, contributing and disseminating our own national knowledge and qualified
human resources on eco housing, as well as international knowledge and practices. It
brought on the promotion and formation of networks and future sources of work for
our local contractors, as well as raising interest of potential users of the diverse
elements of eco housing. Through implementation of this project, we were able to
discover how remarkable is the willingness, faith and efforts of our own people to be
part of an experience that involved a certain risk, in the belief that better conditions in
social housing in Honduras can be achieved through the concept of eco housing.

Before

Initial and final stages of the
wooden house construction

After

Implementation of the project in Honduras
The project was implemented through two main phases:
• Designing the local implementation scheme and website of the project.
• Building of the two sample houses

Designing the local implementation scheme and website of the project
Developing this phase implied:

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• Carrying on research on national and international sources of information,
experiences and local contractors on ecological housing, obtaining inputs to
define the technical design of the ecological house in the Honduran context.
• Determining the strategy to find a local partner willing to get involved in the
building of the houses.

“The house looks pretty, it feels
cooler because of the upper
Windows, we are glad to have a
house of our own, the price seems
reasonable. Now we’re much more
safe from floods. We like the idea of
the roof, the cieling provides
protection and security. It would be
very good if FUNDEVI gave more
loans for this type of houses, since
some neighbours have also liked the
house very much. We would have
liked it more if the water tank had
been raised from the floor, so we
could fill water deposits more easily,
in some time, we could add a little
motor to pump the water up. The
Wilmer and Julia, the owners of the wooden water tastes good, just like “agua
house, subscribing a credit contract with azul”. We would have also liked a
FUNDEVI to finance non ecological elements of larger surface for the ecostove, so we
the house. could cook more food at once. Very
little wood is needed in this ecostove
in comparison to the “fogon”, good
savings are made. The house was
built quite fast”.

Research was carried on through the setting up the project’s website, which would
compile national and international sources of information and experiences, including
that of STRO’s own staff. A thorough research on local institutions, contractors, and
academia, national and international websites was carried on. This website is still
under construction. As the information was being compiled, the technical design of the
ecological house to be built in Honduras was shaped around the following technical
elements:
• Safe water provision: Rain water harvesting and storage
• Walls: use of local materials such as wood or “compressed earth blocks” (an
improved version of the traditional building block made out of compressed
earth using a machine)
• Sewerage: Reusable “aboneras” latrines (a waterless latrine that can be easily
cleaned, emptied and reused)
• Treatment of disposals from the sewage system: Recycling of water through a
bio filter, to use for irrigation of crops.
• Energy: Use of eco-stoves to reduce use of wood and smoke emission. Use of a
biodigestor to generate energy

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• Ventilation system: Solar and wind orientation of the house and special roof
design to minimize solar exposition and increase inner ventilation.
In order to find a local partner for the construction of the two sample houses, a
marketing strategy was defined that would give a “modular” character to the house.
This means that our local partner would be able to choose which ecological elements
to implement on the sample house, in accordance to elements such as budget, specific
conditions of the site of the project, future potential users of the house’s expectatives
and local materials available. They were able to choose one, some or all of the before
defined main ecological elements:

Sustainability, operation and maintenance of the two sample houses were considered
as very important aspects in order to find a local partner for the building phase. It was
also considered convenient to approach the social housing sector institutions in
Honduras, in order to tackle the needs of a larger target population group in Honduras
and have a larger incidence of the replication of the ecological practices. This sector of
the population also lacks more in access to basic services, and would find alternative
means and cost effective solutions to basic services and building materials very
attractive, as so would social housing credit institutions. With these aspects in mind, a
scheme was designed in which the costs of the ecological houses would be shared
among the partner institution and STRO. The first would provide a credit to the future
owner of the house, covering the costs of the non ecological elements of the house.
STRO would cover the costs of the ecological elements. In that way, maintenance of
the ecological elements would be provided by people who would inhabit the houses,
which are the credit holders.
To fulfil this idea, two local credit housing institutions were contacted: FUNDEVI and
IHCADE. Promotional material was distributed (see annex 1 in Spanish), and after some
explanatory meetings and discussions, FUNDEVI was chosen based on interest
expressed and willingness to engage in the ecohousing project. They also had the
advantage of the potential to offer technical assistance as well, due to its technical
staff present in every region of the country where they have regional offices.

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In the words of Jose Rios, our local
contractor:
“The house seen from afar looks like
a birds house, people have said, but
when they come close, they find it
very pretty. Six persons have asked
about it. The inside temperature is
nice. The design of the roof is
accepted by some people, some
other would rather see the more
traditional two slopes roof. A very
good thing is that this type of house
is not vulnerable to floods. Local
people would take a credit for this
type of house. The price seems
reasonable. This house is luxurious, it
Technical staff and Julia Maria’s (one of the owners
helps to improve the urban image, is
of the house) family at the beginning stage of the
more earthquake resistant and the
wooden house. From left to right: Julia’s uncle, our
inside of the house feels very fresh.
local contractor Jose Rios, Julia’s mother Doña Maria,
The floor could also be built with
Julia’s sister, STRO’s local advisor Carolina and
concrete, to make the house more
FUNDEVI’s technical supervisor Arnoldo.
solid and stable, but it would also be
warmer.

FUNDEVI (Fundación para la vivienda social urbana y rural / Foundation for the social
urban and rural house) is a large national credit for housing institution independent
from the central government, with a central office in Tegucigalpa and regional offices
all over Honduras. Their funding comes from the national government and
international sources such as KFW and ASDI. They grant credits for construction,
acquisition or remodelling of houses to families with a level of income lower than L
20,000.00, monthly, per family group. They also grant credits for provision of systems
of basic services to new or existing urbanisations.

Building of the sample two houses
The building phase of the project started with identification of clients willing and
interested in the project. This was a quite hard and time consuming objective to
accomplish, since due to cultural reasons, an “compressed earth blocks” or wooden
house are considered to be backwards methods of construction, practiced by
extremely poor people who lack wealth to use concrete blocks. Adding to this, is the
fact that social credit institutions do not finance houses built with this type of
materials, which are considered extremely vulnerable and are not covered by
insurance companies. This fact makes FUNDEVI’s decision to engage in the ecohousing
project very remarkable, as there is a high risk involved, showing a very proactive
attitude and interest towards research and practice of alternative ecological

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architecture. It was also very interesting to find that some of FUNDEVI’s staff had had
training in ecological practices, but these were not being fully implemented yet.
A few potential interested clients were identified, but some of them did not comply
with minimum requisites for a credit or were living outside our target geographical
region. After several joint efforts from STRO and FUNDEVI, two eligible clients were
identified. It is interesting to note that the wooden house was very attractive for
people living in areas where floods occur during the rainy season, and the compressed
earth blocks house was attractive for the people with the lowest level of income
among FUNDEVI’s target population (monthly income per family group of $1,000
aprox.).
A costume made design was produced for the compressed earth blocks house,
according to the client’s own preferences and financial resources.
The original design for the wooden house by Jan Bos from The Netherlands was
adapted and customised in accordance to local sizes of available wood, local conditions
and the client’s own preferences and financial resources.
With support from FUNDEVI’s regional staff in Yoro, local contractors for the building
of the houses were identified and hired, having also been approved by the credit
holders. As the houses were being built, training, learning and dissemination activities
also took place, as is fully described in annexes 5 and 6.

“In the beginning, we struggled to find the right type
of earth and to have the compressed earth blocks
machine working smoothly, because it had some
minor flaws and the heavy rains complicated the
situation. After correcting the flaws of the machine
and finding the right proportion of materials for the
compressed earth blocks, production of them went
on smoothly and the construction of the house went
rapidly. It is much faster and easier than making
traditional earth blocks, since the blocks can be used
right away, drying them is not a requisite. The people
who have worked with me, some have gotten too
tired because of carrying the right type of earth all
the way to the house, and some other have learned
very quickly how to use the machine, and are willing
to use this technique in the future. The house looks
very good, some of my clients and neighbours are
very interested in building their houses with this
technique. Now comes the time to share this
experience and technique with my fellows and
Our local contractor for the
colleagues, so more houses like this can be built.”
compressed earth blocks house,
Salomón Hernandez

Comparing planned and achieved results

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The following table compares planned and actually achieved objectives and results of
the project:

Planned Actual
Specific Objectives
Arrive at an affordable • The adobe house is indeed affordable, since it
housing design applicable to proved to cost 87% to 93% lower than the cost of
Honduras in the climate of houses built in the Yoro region by FUNDEVI, who
Comayagua and Yoro tackles the sectors of the population with very
low levels of income. The compressed earth
blocks technique complied perfectly with the high
temperature climate in the region
• The wooden house proved to be almost
equivalent in cost to houses built by FUNDEVI in
the region. The design of the house respondent
effectively to the flood prone and high
temperature conditions of the climate in the
region.

Construct two ecological The two houses were built, but both of them in Yoro,
prototype houses, one in Yoro in the Municipalities of Yoro and El Negrito, tackling
and one in Comayagua STRO’s geographical target area.

Verify anticipated benefits Benefits verified include:
and specifications • lower cost of construction through the use of
compressed earth blocks
• training and dissemination of the techniques used
for the ecological elements among the local
population
• Replication of some of the techniques already
taking place
• Raising local interest by demonstration
• Networks formed for future replication of
ecological elements
• Improvement on the quality of water supply and
less pressure on natural effluents
• Less smoke emission and less use of wood
through the use of the eco stove
• Research and dissemination on national and
international knowledge and experiences on
ecological housing through the setting up of the
eco house website, contributing to filling in the
vacuum on local knowledge on eco housing
practices
• Potential for reducing the cost of water
• More access to the provision of basic services
such as water

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• Constructed houses provide a very effective way
to disseminate the concept of ecohousing and
fight preconceptions of people and institutions
• The design of the wooden house is extremely
attractive for people living in flood prone areas
• Better indoor climate and healthy environment,
less pollution of air, less fossil fuels use.
• Creation of a comfortable habitat that brings
health (purified water, compressed earth blocks
walls against bugs infections), and creates time
for learning (highly participative opportunities in
the making of compressed earth blocks, the rain
water harvesting system and the eco stove),
relaxation (lower area of the wooden house
provides and extra social area perfect for
relaxation), and income generating opportunities
(the potential to sell purified water).
• Due to lower costs, more profit making
opportunities for the financial and construction
sectors

Train the local construction • Training of the local construction sector took
and financing sector place by the networks formed:
o Habitat for humanity Honduras and CEVER
trained a local contractor in the technique
of compressed earth blocks making, who
also trained members of the family who
owns the house and members of his own
staff.
o Local inhabitants who approached the
sites of the projects out of curiosity were
also trained in terms of knowledge of
ecological practices
o CEASO trained some members of the
family who owns the house and a local
contractor in the technique of
“ferrocemento” who also trained his own
staff, and later replicated the technique.
• Training of the local financial sector took place by
the involvement of FUNDEVI and habitat for
humanity, both institutions having a strong
financial component and remarkable local and
national presence
Disseminate the results to the • Dissemination of ecological practices through the
wider sector and policy website of the project under construction (a
makers to take them into preliminary version can be viewed at
account in the housing http://ecocasas.shutterfly.com/)

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policies • Some of FUNDEVI’s regional and national staff
have visited the site of the project of the
compressed earth blocks house and have
expressed their liking and interest in the
compressed earth blocks technique. They are
actually considering the possibility to make the
financing of compressed earth blocks houses one
more of their products. Additionally, some local
people with low levels of income have expressed
their willingness to build their own houses with
compressed earth blocks, having visited the site
of the project, which turns them into potential
clients of FUNDEVI.
Expected results
Concrete design of two Modular concept of design elaborated and in use,
ecological houses including including all aspects, showing a versatile design
aspects of water, energy, adaptable to several contexts.
material and vegetation
adapted to the region, with
extra costs in comparison
with the standard one of max.
20%.

Two ecological houses Two houses constructed both within Yoro, STRO’s
constructed one in the region target geographical region. The families have
Yoro and one in Comayagua. expressed their liking of foreseen benefits and data
Each one will be tested by a on costs, comfort levels, inner sensorial temperature,
family, who will collect the and reliability of the ecological elements has been
data, assisted by students. collected

Verification of its Information on comfort and technical data of the
specifications and comfort of houses being preliminary explained on this document
use put in technical
information and evaluation
report.

Didactic material prepared for o Promotion material explaining the benefits and
the housing construction elements of eco housing already circulating
sector. among local housing institutions and contractors.
o Didactic material on the rain water harvesting
system already compiled
Advanced training courses to Currently as a planned activity, involving people who
the construction sector: one was involved and already trained as instructors.
course for school of engineers,
one course for the school of
architects and one for the
constructors of houses.

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Dissemination of the results: Webpage already in construction
web page of the project, and
links to connect to the pages
of the others.

Material for short Promotion material describing advantages of
presentations in which ecological elements already in circulation
benefits and costs are
highlighted.

Meetings with ministry of Meetings for the dissemination of the eco housing
construction, banks, and concept took place during the identification of a
savings and credit partner institution phase, with some savings and
organizations. credit organisations such as IHCADE, Red Comal,
BYSA, World Vision, Habitat for Humanity Honduras
and Inmobiliaria del Valle

“The building of this house is a very good thing, it is
very pretty and quite big, I never imagined I could
have a house that looks so good, now people will
think that I have a lot of money, and it is not such
thing (giggling). When Salomón was struggling and
making a big, real effort to have the compressed
earth blocks come out just fine from the machine,
and still they did not, I felt worried. But when they
found the right type of earth, then the construction
speeded up, and the walls started going up and up
and I was very happy. This type of blocks works
much better than the adobes, they look smoother,
prettier and are faster. My son is learning how to
make them and he also thinks they are better. My
neighbours also like the house and are asking me
Doña Maria, Martina’s mother, about it”
who oversees the construction
and administrative issues of the
compressed earth blocks house.

Recommendations for implementation of the ecological
housing concept in Honduras

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• The cost of the wooden house per square meter turned out to be almost the same
as the cost per square meter of a concrete block house built by FUNDEVI. However,
the cost per square meter of walls is likely to be higher. A very concerning issue is
the sustainability of wood as a construction material in Honduras, given that little
reforestation or preventive use of wood education is locally available and illegal
traffic and commerce levels are very high. The eco housing project could be
implemented as a joint effort to promote reforestation of local woods and building
of wooden houses in poles in flood prone areas. This would largely contribute to
the sustainability of this type of eco house. It is also possible to consider further
research on alternative light construction materials to keep the concept of a house
built in poles in flood prone areas, such as bamboo, locally prefabricated wall
sheets, etc.
• Some technologies for alternative sources of energy, such as solar panels, wind
energy generating systems, and solar water heating commercial devices could not
be implemented due to high costs, not in correspondence with the target
population defined for the eco housing project. This elements could be considered
for a further development of the project targeting a different sector of the
population
• The implementation of a bio digestor as built by CEASO, a Honduran institution
that practices ecological agriculture, might be unsustainable due to the fact that
some construction materials are not found nationally. These materials have to be
brought from abroad and it is unlikely that the delivery is made for small
quantities. This element should be considered further for the development of small
or large residential projects.
• Building through the compressed earth blocks technique through a learning
process might be comparatively more time consuming (finding the right type of
earth, learning to operate the machine efficiently, carrying the right type of earth
when it is not near to the site of the project, increased costs due to
experimentation) than building with concrete blocks. However, this problem could
be overcome by holding training workshops for local contractors, so they would be
ready and experienced when starting the building of an compressed earth blocks
house.
• Traditional “adobes” or earth blocks structurally work by compression, since they
are solid and thicker than the compressed earth blocks, needing no vertical or
horizontal iron reinforcement. This brings the cost of the walls lower than that of
compressed earth blocks. However, walls made with compressed earth blocks
represent better health conditions, have better appearance, and are more resistant
and durable than traditional adobe walls. It will be necessary to disseminate more
the advantages of the compressed earth blocks among local inhabitants, in order
to gain acceptance of the technique over the traditional adobe.
• Financial risk is still an issue to consider when approaching the financial sectors of
social housing, who traditionally do not grant credits for houses built with this type
of materials. It would be necessary to have dissemination and participative
activities to change pre conceptions on wood and compressed earth blocks. It
would also be possible to build houses though fiduciary financial schemes,
decreasing the financial risk and making these alternatives more attractive to the
financial sector.

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• The first rain water harvesting system built turned out to be very expensive in
comparison to a traditional piped water provision system. It was more expensive
due to the cost of non local qualified human resources necessary to build it.
However, it is an initial investment that pays return reducing considerably money
spend on water bills. Moreover, through training of local contractors, the
experience can be replicated, cutting costs down regarding qualified human
resources that can now be found locally.
• Building the houses in the rainy season brought in very much inconvenience,
operation problems within the financial system of our local partner, distrust on the
technique, delays and increased costs. It is highly advisable to build this type of
houses exclusively during the dry season.

Upcoming activities
1. The main upcoming activity is to continue measurement of performance of
ecological components built in the sample houses. Afterwards, activities will be
focussed on dissemination of the experience, knowledge gains and results of
the project among the local and national housing sector. This would be done
with the ultimate objective of promoting ecological practices and influencing
institutional policies of the social housing sector, in order to make of them their
own institutional practices and replicate the experience.
It is also necessary to continue research on alternatives to the less favourable
results found through this project in respect to the use of wood as a sustainable
ecological material.
2. Dissemination of knowledge will be carried out through conferences attracting
the building sector at national level such as the professional association of
architects, engineers, construction firms, social housing institutions, etc. These
conferences would be held once thorough measurement and analysis of the
performance of ecological components of the two houses is done. They will be
held in the cities where it would be possible to attract such institutions, such as
Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, El Progreso, Yoro, covering nearby towns.
Dissemination of practical knowledge and experience gained would be
developed through training workshops for local contractors, using the recently
improved capacity of the contractors that participated in the construction of
both houses, so they can hold the training workshop themselves. These
trainees would afterwards offer their services as supervisors of houses built
with ecological materials, further disseminating training activities, in the same
scheme that the two sample houses were built.
The training workshops could be specialized in each of the ecological elements
(rain water harvesting systems, ecostoves, “ferrocemento” tanks, dry latrines,
sun heated water, biodegestors, etc. This way, local capacity building would
take place and local applicability would be higher.
The trainees could also be further trained in the creation of microenterprises
that build and install ecological elements. The microenterprises could then
receive support for commercialization of their products in the local market, for

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example, in hardware stores, in accordance to identified demand from local
market studies.
3. Techno environmental furthering of flood prone houses.The wooden house
elevated in poles proved to be a very attractive solution to flood prone areas,
and the concept could be improved by researching more on using bamboo as a
substitute of wood. It would be even better if a further sample house could be
built with this material, which could be smaller in size, as a complementary
living area of an existing house, in order to reduce costs. Another possibility
would be to implement the building of wooden houses along with a small
reforestation project, so education and promotion of good practices on
sustainability of wood and the environment would also be an important part of
the project.
4. Taking the experience to a larger scale though the development of a small
urbanization would be of great interest in terms of further research, practice,
dissemination and replication of ecological practices. It would include putting
into action more ecological practices that can be developed only at a larger
scale (wind power, biodigestors, sun generated energy, etc). It would also
improve ecohousing national networking, by finding partners who would be
willing to engage in this experience. Currently, a proposal of this initiative is
being prepared to seek funding and find potential partners in order to make it a
reality. The proposal would also include micro credit and mortgages for eco
housing.
5. Further research is to be conducted also on the sustainability of a biodigestor
for individual houses, given that it has been currently found that the material
needed for its construction is not found locally, and it is not delivered for small
quantities, thus maintenance and replicability could be unsustainable,
according to the experience of CEASO, a local institution who builds bio
digestors.
The performance of ecological elements varies in different contexts, influenced
by factors such as the proximity of the right type of earth to the site of the
project in the compressed earth blocks house, the availability of qualified
contractors, the season in which the houses are built, the size of the house, etc.
It is intended to further study these variables within the analysis of unitary
costs in order to come up with different standard costs adapted to different
contexts.
6. The possibility to have TRIODOS foundation linked to national social housing
credit institutions such as FUNDEVI, FUNED, IHCADE, etc, by establishing a fund
for ecological practices, would be a very positive way to promote the concept
of eco housing. These institutions could make ecological practices one more of
their financing products, which funds they could use in special conditions for
clients willing to engage in building their houses with ecological elements. A
micro credit could be granted for actions by consumers to add on their house
to make it more ecological: e.g. replacement of incandescent lamps with CFL's
or LED. Installing a water catchment area to reduce scares tap water, installing
a solar water heater, arrange cooling tree vegetation in the area. A full credit
would be granted to the construction for new eco houses.

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Through the intervention of STRO, a link to complementary currencies could be
built, in such a way that mixed credits would be granted, mostly with the local
currency. The credit holders would pay local contractors and construction
materials suppliers partly through the local currency, thus making a higher
impact in local economic development, cutting down loan interests costs and
increasing the institution´s clientele.

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ANNEX 1: PROMOTION MATERIAL
dar sombra, limpiar las aguas residuales, reduciendo la
E C O C A S A S presión sobre el medio ambiente en cuanto el uso de
energía y agua.
Social Trade Organisation (STRO)
Mas concreto este mini proyecto busca:
STRO es una ONG Holandesa
operando en Honduras desde el • Llegar a un diseño efectivo en costos y aplicable para
2003. Su misión es encontrar Honduras
modelos económicos y tecnológicos innovadores que • Construir dos casas ecológicas prototipo en dos
promueven el desarrollo económico local, utilizando lo más ambientes diferentes
posible recursos locales para vitalizar el mercado local. Para • Comprobar las bondades anticipadas de las casas
esto STRO contribuye en la construcción de un sistema de ecológicas
intercambio equilibrado, basado en economías locales bien • Capacitar al sector financiero y de la construcción
desarrolladas y diversificadas y en un tipo de moneda neutral que no • Diseminar los resultados a un público más amplio
lleve a un crecimiento compulsivo ni a la creación de pobreza a A mediano plazo STRO busca promover el concepto de
través de transferencias de interés del rico al pobre. Ecocasas a una escala mayor facilitando su financiamiento a
través de sistemas monetarios complementarios
disponibles en la zona.
ECOCASAS consiste en un
proyecto impulsado por STRO
que tiene como objetivo
construir casas que den a sus
habitantes un vida mas agradable (mejor ventilación
interna), cómodo (cocina sin humo) y sano (aguas
residuales). El concepto ECOCASA encaja una gran
variedad de prácticas de construcción y de habitación que
no dañan al medio ambiente, aprovechan lo más posible y
de forma sostenible los recursos localmente disponibles,
incluyendo energía, agua, materiales y capacidad humana,
reduciendo costos. Usa también vegetación y árboles
frutales con fines múltiples: mejorar la alimentación y salud,

1
1

LA ECOCASA

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2

3

5

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Las ECOCASAS tienen diversos
componentes ecológicos para el
aprovisionamiento de servicios básicos y
materiales de construcción, que son
adaptables según los gustos y necesidades
particulares del dueño de la casa y a cada
contexto en particular.
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COMPONENTES
COMPONENTES DE LA ECOCASA 3. SERVICIOS SANITARIOS
En casos donde no hay acceso a la red de alcantarillado
1. SISTEMA DE AGUA POTABLE público, las letrinas aboneras proveen una solución muy
Las aguas lluvias se recolectan a través de canales en el higiénica y práctica para la deposición de excretas. No es
techo, que pasando a través de un filtro, alimentan de necesario excavar muy profundo la fosa, y cuando esta se
agua a: llena, se cubre con cal y se clausura, y se utiliza una nueva
• Pilas a nivel de suelo para almacenamiento de agua y fosa. La fosa anterior puede vaciarse algún tiempo después
acarreo en baldes. de haber sido cerrada y usarse de nuevo.
• Tanque elevado. 4. SISTEMA DE AGUAS GRISES Y NEGRAS
• Cisternas con bomba manual El agua usada de la ducha, lavatrastos y servicios es
El agua así almacenada se usa para la ducha, lavatrastos, reutilizada para regar plantas y cultivos a través de un bio
lavamanos, inodoros y letrinas de cierre hidráulico. También digestor que purifica el agua.
se puede calentar el agua con el sol y luego hacerla circular 5. ENERGIA
para la ducha o la cocina. También puede instalarse al En casos donde no hay acceso a la red pública de energía
mismo tiempo un sistema convencional de agua potable, eléctrica, puede utilizarse un fogón mejorado, de
conectándose alternativamente a la red publica. construcción artesanal, que ahorra entre un 50% y 60%
2. PAREDES de leña, produce menos humo y es más rápido y eficiente
El uso de materiales locales que representan un menor que el fogón convencional.
costo se hace posible al construirse las paredes con 6. VENTILACION
adobe mejorado o madera, que también hace un mayor uso Las ventanas ubicadas donde reciben mayor viento y menos
de la mano de obra local. Las casas construidas con adobe exposición solar, contribuyen a la frescura de la casa. Si la
mejorado representan ahorros de hasta un 37% con casa se construye en polines, se instalan rejillas de
respecto al bloque de concreto y de un 13% con ventilación en el cielo falso y en el piso de la casa, que se
respecto al ladrillo rafón. La casa de madera construida abren o cierran como si fueran ventanas; permitiendo el
sobre polines es ideal para zonas inundables o con flujo vertical de aire por toda la casa, manteniéndola fresca
temperaturas muy altas ya que facilitan la circulación vertical en días calurosos.
de aire, haciendo la casa mas fresca.

3
A corto plazo se busca construir y evaluar el funcionamiento de
ALGUNAS EXPERIENCIAS
EXPERIENCIAS EN HONDURAS: una o dos casas ecológicas con algunos o todos los
componentes ecológicos antes mencionados.
Las tecnologías antes descritas ya se han implementado antes Para lograr estos objetivos, STRO busca una organización o
en Honduras, a continuación se describen algunas referencias institución local contraparte interesado en construir una casa
sobre estas experiencias: bajo la modalidad de ECOCASA, a quien se le explicara el
• AGUA POTABLE: Tanques elevados, filtros, cisternas y funcionamiento y beneficios de la ECOCASA. STRO aportara la
bombas manuales construidas a través del Programa de agua y parte de los costos correspondientes a los componentes
saneamiento del Fondo Hondureño de Inversion social. Pilas de ecológicos de la casa, como contraparte al aporte de la
agua potable “ferrocemento” construidas por ENASA organización o institución para construir la casa. STRO también
CENTROAMERICA, asi como por el FHIS. proporcionara supervisión de la construcción de los
• PAREDES: Casas de adobe mejorado construidas por MAS componentes ecológicos de la casa, al mismo tiempo que
consultores en Valle de Angeles. Casas de madera construidas transmitirá las técnicas y conocimientos al encargado de la
en Roatan. construcción de la casa, para favorecer la réplica de este tipo
• SERVICIOS SANITARIOS: Letrinas aboneras construidas por de construcciones en el futuro. La organización o institución
ENASA CENTROAMERICA, así como por el FHIS. contraparte por su parte se comprometerá a permitir visitas
• SISTEMA DE AGUAS GRISES Y NEGRAS: Biofiltros ocasionales para efectos demostrativos a la casa, brindando la
construidos por FHIS, biodigestores construidos por CEASO oportunidad a STRO para mostrarla como ejemplo de buenas
en Siguatepeque. prácticas ecológicas de construcción y funcionamiento de una
• ENERGIA: Fogones mejorados construidos por ENASA casa. La organización o institución contraparte puede tambien
CENTROAMERICA en Tegucigalpa y ADESA, también en buscar un cliente especifico, quien puede adquirir un credito
Tegucigalpa. con instituciones como FUNDEVI para aportar la contraparte
correspondiente.
PROPUESTA STRO PARA CONSTRUCCION DE ECOCASA

El proyecto Ecocasas busca difundir el concepto de la casa Colonia Castaño Sur,
Paseo Virgilio Zelaya Rubi,
ecológica encontrando familias interesadas en construir su Edificio MARITERE, apartamento # 101
propia casa con algunos o todos los componentes ecológicos. Tegucigalpa, M.D.C. www.stro-ca.org Apartado Postal 3424
www.strohalm.net

4
ANNEX 2: BLUEPRINTS COMPRESSED
EARTH BLOCKS (CEB) HOUSE
ANNEX 3: ORIGINAL DESIGN WOODEN
HOUSE
HONDURAS 070119

achtergevel linker zijgevel

voorgevel rechter zijgevel
4500 4500 4500
3662+

2853+
11050
2350+
100 1200 50 1150 50 4750 50 3600 100

voorlopige schets schaal 1 : 100
100
peil
wassen/wc
berging

2950
koken slapen
1225-
6150
50

4200
2950

veranda wonen slapen
dwarsdoorsnede
100

8550
plattegrond
Bos & Rijssenbeek Duurzaam Bouwen | Klompenmakerslaan 2 | 3781 DR Voorthuizen | Tel. 0342-473634 | Fax. 0342-473610
ANNEX 4: BLUEPRINTS WOODEN
HOUSE
ANNEX 5: TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION
OF THE COMPRESSED EARTH BLOCKS
(CEB) HOUSE
Annex 5: Technical description of the compressed earth blocks
house

Initial conditions of the house

The plot is located next to the main paved road from Yoro to El Progreso, the strongest
economically Municipality of the region of
Yoro, and about 10 km away from Yoro in the
village “La Puerta”.
The current conditions of the house are very
precarious, consisting of a small single unit of
6x7m where 4 to 6 people sleep at night,
“bahareque” walls (walls made out of thin
poles of wood and earth), poor ventilation and
lighting, poor structural conditions of the wall,
roof made with zinc, intense high inner
temperature, high level of smoke emission
Front view of the original house
through a conventional stove, water from the
public system implying a monthly bill of L 100.00, not safe for drinking, no water
storage , no electricity, hydraulic latrine. There is a second unit of the house, made out
of cement blocks, consisting of two bedrooms. A third small unit of the house is being
built by another member of the family, with traditional “adobe” (block made out of
earth).

“Baharaque
walls” (earth
and fine wood
pols)

Water provision
system

1
Architectural design

FLOOR PLAN

ELEVATIONS
The full set of blueprints is found in Annex 2.
2
The size of the house (was determined by the available land plot and financial
resources from the client. The client wished to replace the “bahareque” original
house, and to have one more bedroom. Based on this conditions, a house
consisting of two living spaces was designed, one of them to function as living,
dinning room and kitchen and the second one as a bedroom. A front porch was
also designed in order to comply with local architecture styles and to add well
being and enjoyment of the house to the future owners. The small size of the plot
limited the optimal orientation of placement of the house to minimize solar
exposition and maximise wind use for ventilation purposes, but thick already
existing vegetation and shade provided by trees help overcome this disadvantage.

Structural design
Masonry foundations, lower and upper concrete wall concrete and iron beams,
vertical iron reinforcement of middle and intersection points of walls, wooden
doors and windows, wooden roof structure, cement and wood waste roof,
concrete floors, concrete columns and front decorative elements.

Ecological elements:
• Compressed earth blocks walls: Compressed earth blocks fabricated through a
compressed earth blocks machine
commissioned to CEVER, a local technical
middle education school in Yoro, with ample
experience on making this type of machines.
The time of fabrication of the machine was 5
weeks. These types of blocks are made with
earth, cement and water, compressing them on
the machine. Training on operation and
maintenance to the local contractor by CEVER’S
staff and Habitat for Humanity Honduras. Size of
Adobloque walls
the block: 30 cm long x 15 cm tall x 15 cm depth,
of which up to a hundred are being fabricated daily out of a mixture of earth,
water, cement and lime in the following proportions: 4 carts of earth, ½ bag of
cement ½ bag of lime and enough water to make the mixture malleable. It took
1,560 blocks aprox. to build this house.

Operating the compressed earth blocks
machine
3
Adobloque machine
Sun drying the compressed
earth blocks

• Rain water harvesting system: Water from rain is collected through roof
canals, then it is made safe to drink by passing it
through a purifying filter made out of local materials
(coil, stone and sand), and deposited into a
“ferrocemento” container. The “ferrocemento”
technique consists in a metallic grid reinforced with
cement, shaped as a circular container. This
technique is very participative, since all members of
the family can help knitting the metallic grid. In the
case of the adobe house, the building of this
element is much cheaper than the first experience
had in the wooden house, since local contractors
were trained in the technique and are now able to
replicate the experience

Rain water container and filter

• Eco stove: A stove made out with some local materials, which uses 40%
of the wood that traditional “fogones” or
stoves use, producing less smoke. It is at
the same time an oven, which can be used
simultaneously. Some pieces of the oven
that were not made locally can be replied
through local contractors. The
construction of this oven is highly
participative, since non qualified workers
are a great help in the construction.
The Eco stove

• Roof: A locally fabricated roof is used, that’s made out of cement, earth, water
and wood disposals. This roof is fabricated in a medium size enterprise located
in Yoro.
• Finishing of the walls: It is made out of earth, with a small portion of
cement.

4
Different types of wall finishing, with different
proportions of earth and cement.

Owners of the house
The owner of the house is Martina Dignabel, a teacher working in a village nearby
Yoro. She is a single mother of two children. Ever since Martina and her mother,
Doña Maria, approached FUNDEVI looking for a credit to build their house, they
wanted it to be built with earth blocks. They were very interested in participating in
this project from the beginning. Due to low level of income, Martina was initially
not eligible for a credit through FUNDEVI, and also because FUNDEVI does not
finance houses made with earth blocks. Through STRO’s participation in the
project, she became eligible, and got the maximum amount of credit possible
according to her level of income. Doña Maria, who lives with Martina oversees the
construction of the house and is in charge of administrative issues.

Final design adaptations
The shape of the upper part of the walls was redesigned according to
recommendations given from habitat for humanity Honduras for compressed earth
blocks buildings, which indicate that a wall height superior to 1 m for the roof ridge
is not structurally stable. This implied having one single ridge for the roof, instead
of the initially designed difference in heights in the roof:

Original design of the roof Modified design of the roof, actually built

Additionally, the foundations were built taller than originally planned, bringing part
of them higher than the ground surface, in order to give full isolation of the
compressed earth blocks from the ground, to avoid water infiltration. This was also
done following habitat for humanity recommendations. The height of the doors
was reduced by 16cm, since stability of compressed earth blocks walls is not gained
yet by the time in which the door openings are being built, which endangers the

5
stability of the structure. Only later we found out that this would have not been a
problem, since stability is gained by the time the upper wall beams are being built.
The original design of the front arcs was also
modified according to local concepts and
preferences of architectural aesthetics. The
owner of the house preferred a style that is very
much in use in the local area. This is very good
in the sense that the house will be more
attractive lo local people, hence having more
possibilities of replication and attracting
interested persons.

Final design of the front arcs of the house

Time of construction

It took three months to construct this house, having started on November 11, 2008
and programmed to be finished by February 11, 2009. The time took longer than
expected due to bad weather, learning process of operation of the compressed earth
blocks machine, initial minor technical flaws of the machine and finding and obtaining
the adequate type of earth for the compressed earth blocks.
Hereby a chronological reference of the construction of the house, in reference to the
elements to be built by STRO (foundations and walls):
o September 21, 2008: commissioning of the fabrication of the compressed earth
blocks machine to CEVER
o November 11, 2008:
• Delivery of the machine to the site of the
project
• Official start date of the project.
• Search for the adequate type of earth
for the compressed earth blocks

CEVER’s technicians delivering the Trying out different types of earth
machine for the compressed earth blocks
6
o November 21, 2008:
• 19% general advance
• Excavation of foundations finished
• First unsuccessful tryouts of different types of earth found nearby the site
of the project for the compressed earth blocks, severely affected by heavy
rains that made the water content in the soil much too high to provide
cohesion to the block. Additionally, the type of earth available nearby had a
content of sand too high for the fabrication of compressed earth blocks.

Excavation for the foundations Try outs for the adobloques

o November 27, 2008:
• 37% general advance
• Half of the foundations finished
• Right conditions of earth found for the compressed earth blocks, using a
clay containing type of earth found aprox. 200meters up the main road
from the site of the project.
• Starting of massive production of compressed earth blocks

o December 10, 2008
• 41% general advance
• Ongoing production of compressed earth blocks
• Starting of walls
• Foundation and lower beams finished
• Constructing of the porch columns

Construction of walls
Construction of porch columns

7
o December 19 , 2008:
• 47% general advance
• Ongoing massive production of compressed earth blocks
• Ongoing construction of walls

Compressed earth blocks sun drying Compressed earth blocks walls

o December 30 , 2008:
• 52% general advance
• Ongoing constructions of walls
• Start of construction of the upper beam

o January 8, 2009:
• 76% general advance
• Upper beam finished
• Fabrication of windows and doors, placement of frames into the
walls
• Tryouts for the finishing of the walls, made out of cement, earth and
water

Placement of door and windows frames Compressed earth blocks w alls
and different tryouts for their
finishing
8
o January 21, 2009:
• 97% general advance
• Roof structure built
• Windows and doors fabricated

Roof structure

o February 18, 2009:
• 100% general advance

The finished BTC house and Doña Maria, the owner

Supervision
Given that earth architecture is not very much in use in Honduras, implying that
little knowledge and practice is available in Honduras, it was necessary to search
for adequate supervision for the project. Two Honduran architecture offices with
experience on compressed earth blocks were contacted, to find out more about

9
the technique and possibilities of a supervision agreement with STRO. One of them
was located in San Pedro Sula and the other one in Tegucigalpa. The visits to these
offices produced more knowledge for our project in respect to the compressed
earth blocks, receiving advice on the technique and design of a house to be built
with compressed earth blocks. Habitat for humanity was also contacted, finding
out that they have had experiences with compressed earth blocks for social
housing projects. They also had a very competent and experienced member of
their staff, Heber Sabillon, a civil engineer who had been promoting and
coordinating compressed earth blocks housing projects within habitat. A decision
was made to have Habitat supervise the construction of eco housing project, based
on the prospective and convenient relation among STRO and Habitat for the
dissemination purposes of the eo housing project, given the international character
of habitat and strong national presence. An agreement was subscribed among the
2 institutions, for the purpose of supervision of the house, obtaining convenient
technical advisory during the construction of the house, given our lack of
experience on compressed earth blocks.

Costs
The total cost of the project in respect to the compressed earth blocks house,
including the costs incurred by the owner of the house is of L149,101.42. The
following table describes the distribution of these costs:

Budget of the compressed earth blocks house
Direct costs provided by STRO
1 Construction materials for foundations and walls L. 26,854.00
2 Labour for construction of foundations and walls L. 19,200.00

3 Construction materials for surface foundations L. 1,500.00
Construction materials for reinforcement of walls L. 4,400.00
Construction materials and labour for exterior
4 finishing of walls L. 3,000.00
5 Eco stove L. 7,050.00
6 Rain harvesting system L. 11,679.50
sub total L. 73,683.50

Indirect costs provided by STRO
1 Compressed earth blocks machine L. 17,000.00
2 Supervision L. 9,825.70
Additional labour for extended time of construction
due to bad weather conditions and learning process
3 of operation of the machine L. 5,000.00
sub total L. 31,825.70

10
Direct costs provided by the owners of the house
Credit from FUNDEVI: construction materials and
1 labour for doors, windows, floor and roof L. 43,051.23
2 Electrical system L. 541.29
sub total L. 43,592.52

TOTAL L. 149,101.72

o The total cost incurred by STRO is of L 105,509.2.
o The total cost of the house, excluding the ecostove and the rain water
harvesting system is of L 130,372.22
o The cost per square meter of the house (excluding indirect costs, the cost of
extra foundations built, the cost of the eco stove and the cost of the
exterior finishing, and including costs provided by the owner of the house)
is of L 2,619.25. This cost represents approximately 93% to 97% of the cost
per square meter of houses regularly built by FUNDEVI in the rural areas
nearby Yoro (L 2,700.00- L 2,800) with concrete blocks in the same
conditions as the adobe house.
o The cost of the wall per square meter is of L 219.96, without iron
reinforcement. A basis for comparison is that the cost per square meter of a
wall built with concrete blocks in San Pedro Sula is of L 297.98.
o The rain water harvesting system is obviously more expensive than a piped
conventional water system installation, but it is also a medium term
investment that provides returns once it is in operation by exclusion of a
water bill. If the adobe house had been built with a conventional water
provision system, the cost per square meter would have been of L 2,365.08,
which is approximately 84% to 87% of FUNDEVI’s costs.
o The cost per square meter of an compressed earth blocks house built by
Habitat for Humanity is of L 2,100 in a rural area similar to the site of our
project. This cost is 80% lower than the cost of the house built through
STRO with the rain water harvesting system and 88% lower than a house
built through STRO with a conventional piped water system. This difference
is due to intense use of non qualified human resources, through methods of
community participation during the construction of the houses by habitat
for humanity. It is lower also because of lower prices in construction
materials due to economies of scale.

Institutions and contractors involved
o Habitat for Humanity Honduras: In charge of the supervision of the
project. They are present in the north and western area of Honduras,
with a regional office in San Pedro Sula. They have staff with ample
experience on compressed earth blocks houses, and are themselves
implementing this technique on several of their projects.
o CEASO (Centro de aprendizaje de agricultura sostenible / learning centre
for sustainable agriculture): In charge of the building of the rain water

11
harvesting system. They are a private integral farm with knowledge on
techniques and human resources training in ecological agriculture and
other ecological practices.
o ENASA (energía, ambiente y salud/energy, environment and health): In
charge of construction of the eco stove. They are a non profit, socio-
environmental collective that offers consultancies, construction and
training in building all types of appropriate and ecological technologies.
o Salomón Hernandez: In charge of the construction of the house. He is a
local building contractor with ample experience on traditional earth
bricks. He is much known locally and has several houses built around
Yoro.
o CEVER (Asociación de Instituciones Evangélicas de Honduras, A.I.E.H.-
CEVER / Association of evangelistic institutions of Honduras): In charge
of fabrication and training in operation of the compressed earth blocks
machine. CEVER is based in Yoro and regularly manufactures
compressed earth blocks machines to institutions such as habitat for
humanity, NGO’s, etc. They also provide technical assistance and
maintenance to the machine.

Technical problems encountered during the building of the house
o Heavy rains: the construction phase of this project started during the rainy
season in Honduras, which particularly affects the fabrication of
compressed earth blocks. Since the earth has soaked humidity, it is hard
to achieve cohesion when operating the compressed earth blocks
machine, and the earth blocks disintegrate completely when they are
removed from the machine.
o Finding the right type of earth for the compressed earth blocks: The type of
earth found nearby to the site of the project was unsuitable due to its
high content of sand, but this conclusion did not arrive immediately
because of the high degree of humidity contained in the earth. Several
tryouts of compressed earth blocks were experimented through
different proportions of cement and lime, obtaining unsuccessful
results. This severely affected the time of construction of the house,
considerably increasing it. New types of earth were found
approximately 200 meters up the main road from the site of the project.
o Right type of earth found away from the site of the project: This meant
increased costs, due to transport of this earth to the site of the project.
For the fabrication of good quality compressed earth blocks, the earth
has to be sifted to remove impurities. Ideally, this should be done right
in the place where the earth is being collected, before it is taken to the
site of the project. This situation also implies increased costs and time,
since extra labour is needed to be in the place where the earth is being
collected, sifting the earth, needing also supervision from the master
mason. This situation took the incentive away from one of the workers
who resigned on the basis that it was much too hard to carry the earth
to the site of the project, clean it and use only 70% or 80% of it.

12
o Little knowledge initially on the compressed earth blocks structural aspects:
In order to achieve the maximum use of local resources, a decision was
made to build the house through a local contractor with experience only
in the traditional type of earth block. The main disadvantage found due
to this situation was that some structural elements necessary to provide
stability in constructions with compressed earth blocks were not built
from the beginning, resulting in unstable walls before the construction
of the upper wall beam and decreased heights of doors. It was only
through the intervention of the supervision from Habitat for Humanity
Honduras during their second visit that this situation was indicated and
a solution was found: to build buttresses if necessary once the walls
were finished since not enough reinforcement was used before the
beginning of the constructions of the walls. Fortunately, this was not
necessary.
o Learning to operate and know the machine is time consuming: During the
first tryouts of the machine in the site of the project, the compressed
earth blocks did not come out well. This was also due to inexperience
on the operation of the machine, besides the time it takes to find the
right type of earth. It took some time to find out that the machine had a
small technical flaw that was indicated during the second visit of the
supervisor from Habitat for Humanity Honduras. The flaw was
immediately fixed by CEVER and the machine then worked out great.
o Finding the right mixture for the finishing of walls requires several tryouts
that do not come out well from the beginning: This situation makes the
client think that a finishing made out of a higher proportion of earth
than cement will eventually break down, as opposed to the traditional
type of wall finishing. So confidence on the technique is affected.

13
ANNEX 6: TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION
OF THE WOODEN HOUSE
Annex 6: Technical description of the wooden house

Initial conditions of the house:
The site of the project is located in El Negrito, Yoro, in the area of Battan, nearby a
dirt road that serves as a secondary
connection between the cities of El
Progreso in the department of Yoro
and Tela in the department of
Atlántida. It is located 30 minutes
away from El Progreso, starting on
the main Pan-American road that
leads to the north atlantic region of
Honduras. This dirt road is in very
good conditions year round, since it
also leads to the headquarters of
Front view of the plot

hondupalma, a large national oil producing company.
Currently, the family has no house of their own, but has a plot of land within a
larger plot where the sisters of the credit holder also live. There is access to a
private source of piped water (not safe for drinking) implying a monthly bill of L
100, access to electricity, high level of smoke emission through a conventional
stove, and a hydraulic latrine.

Architectural design :

FLOOR PLAN
FRONT ELEVATION

The original design for the wooden house provided from the Netherlands (see
annex 3) was adapted to local conditions determined by the financial resources
from the client and their personal needs of living spaces, including their
distribution. The sizes of the living spaces were reduced, as so were sizes of the
windows for security reasons. The spaces were redistributed to gain more
circulation convenience over the loss of living areas. The orientation of the house
followed minimal solar exposition. See annex 4 for the full set of blueprints of the
wooden house.

Structural design
Concrete and poles berried 1m underground. The underground section of the poles
is of 28x28cm, slightly decreasing towards the floor platform of the house. A
concrete and iron base made out of horizontal beams over the poles, holds the
wooden floor structure. Pine wood acquired locally for walls and floors. Gypsum
board ceiling. Wooden roof structure and aluzinc roof. Wooden doors, windows
and stairs

Ecological elements:
• Wood as the main construction material: The wood was acquired through a
local provider, owner of a hardware store. This wood comes from local forests
in the region of Yoro and Olancho. The owner of the hardware store has
gradually acquired machinery and equipment to process the wood and sell it in
costume sized pieces. The lightness of wood as a construction material made it
possible to build the house over poles.
Wooden walls Wooden floors viewed from below

• House built over poles: The elevated floors of the house make a
remarkable difference regarding safety
from floods, which occur frequently in
the region of the site of the project,
that also has the highest levels of
annual precipitation in the department
of Yoro .This feature made the wooden
house very attractive to FUNDEVI’s
clients living in flood prone areas. The
poles also provide a very nice place
underneath the house that is used as
Poles of the wooden house
an extra social area away from the sun and
cooler in temperature.

• Elevated roof design: The elevation of the lowest point of the roof from the
walls forms an external air camera that creates vertical circulation of air
through small horizontal windows built in the ceiling and on the floors, cooling
the inner temperature of the house. The elevated roof also provides the
gypsum board ceiling isolation from the sun heat, contributing to decrease the
inner temperature of the house. The large sidewards extensions of the roof
provide the ceiling protection from the rain.

Horizontal upper windows for
Detail of the elevation of the lowest ventilation.
point of the roof from the walls
• Rain water harvesting system: Water from rain is collected through roof
canals, then it is made safe to drink by passing it
through a purifying filter made out of local
materials (coil, stone and sand), and deposited
into a “ferrocemento” container. The
“ferrocemento” technique consists in a metallic
grid reinforced with cement, shaped as a
circular container. This technique is very
participative, since all members of the family
can help knitting the metallic grid. The building
of this system was commissioned to CEASO,
whose main offices are located in
Siguatepeque, three hours away from the site
of the project. In order to be affordable by
clients of the social housing sector, this
Rain water container and filter technique needs high participation of non
qualified
human resources. In this particular case, there
were not enough persons who could
contribute to this aspect, and local mason
helpers had to be hired, supervised by the
local contractor in charge of building the
house. This meant increased costs, but at the
same time, it implied transferring knowledge
and experience to local workers of the
construction sector, that at by end of the
experience, expressed that they were now
able to replicate the experience by them Replication of the ferrocemento
selves. This is a remarkable achievement in technique by the local contractor of
the wooden house, in the finishing
this project, and it is likely that further of the bathroom walls
construction of these systems will be carried
out by the recently trained local workers of the construction sector in Yoro,
decreasing the cost of this ecological element. An actual example can be
observed in the finishing used in the bathroom walls, the local contractor used
the same technique learned during the fabrication of the rain water harvesting
system, taking advantage of spare material and recently acquired skills.
Given that the inhabitants of this house pay a monthly water bill, there’s strong
potential for this system to help reduce water costs, and also of it becoming a
business opportunity, since the water storage, once filled, can last up to a year;
and so water could be sold to neighbours at a cheaper price or in times of
system failure.
Fabricating the “ferrrocemento” water tank Close up of the metallic grid before the
reinforcing cement plaster

When the system was finished and a little rain fell, the users tasting the water,
affirming that it has good taste.

• Eco stove: A stove made out with some local materials, which uses 40% of the
wood that traditional “fogones” or
stoves use, producing less smoke. It is
at the same time an oven, which can be
used simultaneously. Some pieces of
the oven that were not made locally can
be replied through local contractors.
The construction of this oven is highly
participative, since non qualified
workers are a great help in the
construction.

The Eco stove
During the construction of this element, many women neighbours approached
the site of the project, expressing interest on the techniques and uses of the
eco stove, learning about how it is built, operated and how it could be
replicated.

Explaining the eco stove to a group Local women participating in the
of neighbours construction of the eco stove
Owners of the house

They are a local couple living and working in el Progreso, Yoro, with two children.
Wilmer Alfonso Cruz works at the
nearby oil processing plant
Hondupalma and Julia Maria Diaz
Quintero works in a maquila. Due to
their low level of income, they were
initially not eligible for a credit
through FUNDEVI, but through STRO’s
participation in the project, they got
the maximum amount of credit
possible according to their level of
income. Julia Maria’s mother and
sisters, who live in the larger plot
The owners of the house subscribing a credit
where her own plot is located, oversee
with FUNDEVI the construction of the house and are
in charge of administrative issues.

Final design adaptations
There were no significative changes in the design adapted to local conditions,
based on the original design from the Netherlands.

Time of construction
1.5 months, having started on October 9, 2008. By November 17, the roof had
been built; only the placement of doors, windows and sanitary furniture was
missing, which took approximately one more week, at the beginning of December.
Hereby a chronological reference of the construction of the house, in reference to
the elements to be built by STRO (foundations, poles, floors, walls and roof)
o September 30, 2008: Commissioning of the wood and construction
materials necessary to build the house to a local hardware store
o October 9, 2008: Delivery of the construction materials to the site of the
project and starting order for
the building of the house given
to the local contractor

Wood delivered to the site of the
project

o October 16, 2008:
 16.5% general advance
 8 out of 9 constructed concrete poles
 Ongoing construction of the concrete lower support structure
for wooden walls

Constructing the lower concrete
support structure for the wooden
walls

o October 23, 2008:
 44.5% general advance
 Finished concrete poles and lower support structure for wooden
walls
 Wooden floor finished
 Starting of the construction of the walls

Constructing the wooden walls

o November 6, 2008:
• 80.5% general advance
• Ongoing construction of wooden walls

Ongoing construction of walls

o November 12, 2008:
• 90% general advance
• Wooden walls finished
• Finished roof structure

Roof structure

o November 2,, 2008
• 100% general advance (in reference to STRO’s intervention for the
house, excluding doors, windows, ecostove and rain water
harvesting system)
• Finished roof
• Finished stairs

Finished house in terms of STRO’s
intervention for the main
structural works

o December 9, 2008
• Beginning of the construction of the rain harvesting system

Constructing the roof water canal

Training future users of the rain water harvesting
system on its concept and use
o December 18, 2008
• Rain water harvesting system finished
• Construction of the eco stove

Finished rain water harvesting system

Construction of the ecostove

o J
a
n

o January 9, 2009
• Doors and walls placed
• House, ecostove and rain water harvesting system in use

Finished house in use Locally made wooden windows
Prefabricated door made out of
compressed wood residual Inhabited house

Costs
The total cost of the project in respect to the wooden house , including the costs
incurred by the owner of the house is of L177,513. 28 The following table describes the
distribution of these costs:

Budget of the wooden house
Direct costs provided by STRO
1 Construction materials for foundations, poles, floors, walls, ceiling and roof L. 85,150.00
2 Labour for construction of foundations, poles, floors, walls, ceiling and roof L. 22,000.00
3 Eco stove L. 7,850.00
4 Rain harvesting system L. 26,559.00
sub total L. 141,559.00

Indirect costs provided by STRO
Supervision and qualified human resources for assistance in the building of
1 the rain water harvesting system and the eco stove L. 5,000.00
sub total L. 5,000.00

Direct costs provided by the owners of the house
Credit from FUNDEVI: construction materials and labour for doors,
1 windows, electrical and sewerage systems. L. 30,954.28
sub total L. 30,954.28

TOTAL L. 177,513.28

o The total cost incurred by STRO is of L 146,559.2.
o The cost per square meter of the house (excluding indirect costs and the
cost of the eco stove, and including costs provided by the owner of the
house) is of L 3,221.11, which is approximately 15% to 19% higher than the
cost per square meter of houses regularly built by FUNDEVI in the rural
areas nearby Yoro (L 2,700.00- L 2,800) with concrete blocks.
o The rain water harvesting system is obviously more expensive than a piped
conventional water system installation, especially in the case of the wooden
house, that was our first experience and implied hiring non local expensive
human resources with travelling and lodging expenses. But a system like
this is also a medium term investment that provides returns once it is in
operation by exclusion of a water bill. If the wooden house had been built
with a conventional water provision system, the cost per square meter
would have been of L 2,736.75, which is approximately 97% lower to 1%
higher than FUNDEVI’s costs for concrete block houses.

Institutions and contractors involved
o CEASO (Centro de aprendizaje de agricultura sostenible / learning centre
for sustainable agriculture): In charge of the building of the rain water
harvesting system. They are a private integral farm with knowledge on
techniques and human resources training in ecological agriculture and
other ecological practices.
o ENASA (energía, ambiente y salud/energy, environment and health): In
charge of construction of the eco stove. They are a non profit, socio-
environmental collective that offers consultancies, construction and
training in building all types of appropriate and ecological technologies.
o José Rios: In charge of the construction of the house. He is a local building
contractor with ample experience on wooden houses. He is much
known locally and has several houses built around the region. He lives
nearby the site of the project
o Local hardware store : Provider of construction materials, high potential for
improved prices on future opportunities

Technical problems encountered during the building of the house
o Future owners do not like the horizontal windows, they find them non
practical for operation and unsafe for security reasons, although they
have an in built iron grid that hinders access from the outside. An
agreement was reached: they would be able to shut them close
permanently if they wished to do so but only after measurements of
temperature were made by STRO.
o Building of the rain water harvesting system increased in costs due to
unavailability of non qualified human resources, which made the hiring
of local people necessary in order to meet time goals, increasing the
costs. The fact that there is no regional experience on this type of
experiences also added to the costs, since qualified personnel from
CEASO in the site of the project implied travelling, lodging, etc
expenses.
o Building the house in the rainy season affected the quality and timing of
the building of the house, since wood was exposed to heavy rains and
then to intense sun, making the wood swelled and the joints walls an
unperfected fit. This problem will be fixed by a “resane” of the walls
with wood disposal mixed with glue.
o Unavailability of the type of roof required delayed the construction of
this element, since it was custom-made size and only available in San
Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras, an hour away from the
site of the project.