Jasper Boychuk and Catalin Gauloiu interview with Andrei Chirilia Nationa Construction Manager with HFHR, 10:47 AM 18/06/10 J:If you

could just introduce yourself, say who you are and what do. A:Hi I am Andrei Chirila, I am the construction manager at HFHR, I am caring about the construction processes around the country. Maybe some words about HFH? J: Sure. A: HFH, Means to fight, we are struggling with improper living conditions, we are building houses, repairing and renovating houses around Romania in more than 10 locations, different locations, main of our projects are happening in the affiliates, we have 7 affiliates, we have 3 components, so we have a traditional program building new house and renovating, the second component is about disaster response, and the third is about the Roma community, we are building house for Roma community too. C: Gypsy Communities? A: Roma J: Roma, alright. What do you think are the biggest issues in terms of affordable housing in Romania right now? A: Most of the people are considering that a family in need is only the family that don’t have a house, but in the same time the family that are living in improper conditions; in crowded apartments, or in buildings with insulation problems, leakages from the rain, mold problems. J: So this would be the biggest is, insulation, leaks and mold. A:Yeah C: This makes the building unlivable and unhealthy, this is first things you have to consider, and of course structure, to be structurally stable. A: Apart from the need of, as we know the official figures for need of house in Romania is like 150,000 J:People don’t have a homes? A:Don’t have a place to stay, they are homeless let’s say. They are not living on the street but they have do not have house where to live. C:I mean, houses not people. A:Houses, houses. Not people, families, Houses. J:I know you are putting together a report together right now on what the housing needs, what information or what sources of information do you have right now for these numbers? A: Usually from the affiliates we are collecting informations, each family which are applying for a house with Habitat have to fill a special document, most of the informations are coming from the families through these documents, another source is the national statistic institute, the town halls, the other NGOs which are related with this sector, most of the information are coming straight from the population. Apart from that we have other sources like the ones mentioned by me before. J: Could you help us a bit getting access to this? A: Of course, of course. No problem. J: So what do you think the biggest challenges are to overcome in terms of getting everybody safe affordable housing? Are there legislative issues, or is it funding issues? What are the big things that make your job hard? A: Hard question for me. It is sort of a cumulative, is a mixture between all the problems I mentioned before. But I think the most important is the people involvement, the people have to

consider, people are considering it a big problem but they are not acting, so they have to act. J:So the people, who are the people you are talking about, everyone? A: The government for example, they have a program to build new houses, but it is a very small program in comparison with the need. These program they tried to develop now with the insulation of the block of flats. The thermal rehabilitation of the blocks, it is a really complicated one, not very affordable for the people, and as I say before the need is very big and the acting is very small. J: We have talked a bit about straw bale and we have talked a bit about improved adobe systems, how do you feel about natural materials? A: Very good, I really like your idea about investing few money in the fancy things and with the money saved to invest in eco solutions like photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind and anything else, everything whats eco. I really like this idea with the flooring, with adobe flooring, very nice idea. I really like that because I remember when I was child in my grandma’s house it was adobe, and feel very very good walking on. Is there any treatment for that? J: Linseed oil. A: To make it a little bit stronger and harder. J: Linseed oil. The oil replaces the water and makes waterproof. A: When can I see it, when can I see a piece of a room with this flooring? J: We want to build one here. C: They are trying to do. We don’t have money either. J: We need a bit of land. J: What do you think? If we tried to talk to Habitat, obviously, when we talk to Chris he makes it quite clear, there is no way they would fund a straw bale project because there is no building code surrounding it. With these kinds of, the adobe houses we say yesterday, those technically are illegal, right? So do you think in terms of implementing these kinds of technologies, if they are really first rate, if they have been developed and are working at a really high level do you think the legislation will be prohibitive, do you think funding will be prohibitive? To do it as an NGO. What you think of as sort of a model for implementing something like that. A: From a point of view. I think we, the general opinion about these adobe houses is a bad one, because the lack of the [structural] resistance of the old one. I really sure that if you can find a structural engineer and an architect which like this idea they can find the proper solution, and even to get all the approvals. I don’t think this is a lack of legislation. Is a lack of legislation for the solution we have now. But coming with a good solution, I think it will be not have a problem. I know that, Right now we have a problem with wood structures because most of the structural engineers and the architects doesn’t build to much using the wood and they don’t use the proper codes. I don’t know how to explain that. They are keeping the same manner of thinking like with the concrete or brick walls, just translated to the wood, I don’t know how to explain it… (Romanian) C helps translate. C:In Bragirdu, the explanation the architect gave him, is like we don’t have codes for wooden structures so the architect and the structurist did the structure thinking and using the steel and concrete codes and then applied it with the wooden. A: It is a kinda of resistance to the new solutions. J: So there are no wood design codes? A: There is a kind of, there are rules, there are codes. But, I don’t know why they don’t use their codes to calculate the wood structure they are using the concrete model and just translate it to the wood.

C: In Canada you have for a beam of a certain thickness you have a maximum carry level of, a load level of… J: We have the timber design handbook, steel design handbook, concrete design handbook and each as entirely different methods of calculating. A: I don’t think our engineers have this timber design handbook. J: I should have brought one. A: Yes. C: OK, you should have brought one, and we just build after that. If it’s proven there. A: So the main issue, answering to your question, I think the main issue is to have somebody interested to develop such a project, to find funding on one side and to convince architect and engineer on the other side. J: And what do you think the best model for deployment, say we developed an adobe/straw bale housing system that was incredibly low cost, warm, safe, we had the designs for it. What would be the best way, to get it to the most people, say we got it to the point that is was legal. A: I think you have to start with a model, we did the same with a steel structure. We build a model we brought people to the structure we showed them that it didn’t mean living in a warehouse. Is a house having everything that a house need to have. I think this could be the first step in this project too. Building a house somewhere, showing people the pros and the cons, then I don’t think there will be an issue to build it. I think Habitat was the pioneer for these light steel structures, they really like the idea to open up a new market to us because people in need sometime doesn’t care to much about the materials from inside the wall, they need a house for their kids. So I am sure that… will be people which will like the idea to live in a straw bale house. J: And what do you think about, I guess we talked a little bit about it. Do you think it’s realistic for solar thermal, do you think Romania is ready for it culturally, solar thermal water supplies. A:I don’t think it’s about culture, and think is about convince people that it’s a solution, it’s a lack of education and culture, the people don’t know about these solutions, in Romania we don’t have a tradition. As everything what’s new there will be pros and cons. But being very well prepared we can show the people is very important invest a few more money in the beginning but after to save money. J:What is your design wish list? We have talked abit about it outside this interview. If you had a team of engineers and architects at your disposal, to design anything. Any sort of structure to do any sort of research you wanted. What would be your wish list? A: I really like wood structure… I don’t know if you know how Habitat works, so first of all we identify the family we are doing analysis of their income, their needs the we are coming with a solution for them. This is their core manner of thinking. We start with their need, their income level, then the solution. So it’s almost the same, form the very simple solutions for a single family to solutions for many families together. The land here is an issue now. I want to say it. So we are looking for building vertically to increase the number of levels too. So this can be an answer. And of course the energy efficiency, the families we are helping are in need they don’t have much so we are focusing energy efficiency too. J: OK, I think that’s everything we need. A: As I have said we do not have tradition in Romania, we need to show the people on the paper with figures look you invest 10 dollars now and in 10 days you recover the money. J: Well we can do that. A: Let’s do it.

J: Thank you very much. A: Thank you for being with us.

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