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ISBN: 978-92-1-132647-5

United Nations Human Settlements Programme
P.O. Box 30030, Nairobi 00100, KENYA
Telephone: +254-20-7623120, Fax: +254-20-7624266/7
Green building interventions for social housing
All rights reserved
First published in Nairobi in 2015 by UN-Habitat.
Copyright United Nations Human Settlements Programme 2015
United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
P. O. Box 30030, 00100 Nairobi GPO KENYA
Tel: 254-020-7623120 (Central Office)

ISBN: 978-92-1-132647-5

The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this guide do not imply the expression of any opinion
whatsoever on the part of Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area
of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Views expressed in this publication do not
necessarily reflect those of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, the United Nations, or United Nations Member

Supervisor: Christophe Lalande
Task manager: Gregor Herda
Principal author: Professor Rajat Gupta
Design and Layout: Andrew Ondoo
Contributors: Christophe Lalande, Emma-Liisa Hannula, Gregor Herda UN-Habitat; Curt Garrigan,
Jacob Halcomb, Marco Bonetti - UNEP
Submitted to: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Cover photo: Apartment house with system of solar energy sources Shutterstock
Prepared by: Professor Rajat Gupta
Matt Gregg
Low Carbon Building Group
Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development
Oxford Brookes University
Oxford OX3 0BP
United Kingdom

ii Green building interventions for social housing

Ta b l e o f c o n t e n t s

Table of contents

01 Summary....................................................................................................... viii
Background.................................................................................................................................................................................... viii
Research challenge.......................................................................................................................................................................... viii
What this report is about................................................................................................................................................................ viii
Learning from case studies................................................................................................................................................................ 1
Background and context................................................................................................................................................................... 2
02 . . ................................................................................................................... 2
Aims, research methodology and outputs of the study...................................................................................................................... 3
Summary of chapters: Readers guide................................................................................................................................................ 4
Rationale for green building intervention in the social housing sector: A win-win scenario?............................................................... 6
03 Green building interventions in the social housing sector . . .................................... 6
Potential for contribution of sustainable social housing to climate change mitigation........................................................................ 9
Emerging approaches of social housing and linkages to green building........................................................................................... 10
Challenges and opportunities in integrating green interventions in social housing........................................................................... 11
Summary........................................................................................................................................................................................ 14
Policy options for greening new and existing social housing programmes........................................................................................ 16
04 Green building policy measures for greening social housing . . .............................. 16
Enabling legislative and regulatory frameworks .............................................................................................................................. 20
Supporting financial mechanisms.................................................................................................................................................... 21
Combinations of policy instruments and barriers to their implementation........................................................................................ 23
Emerging best practice in promoting greening of the social housing sector at the legislative/policy,
institutional, financial and technical levels...................................................................................................................................... 27
Summary........................................................................................................................................................................................ 45
Green measures for new social housing........................................................................................................................................... 48
05 Strategies for greening social housing: new build and refurbishment............... 48
Environmental retrofitting of social housing.................................................................................................................................... 63
Maintenance and management approaches ................................................................................................................................... 64
Monitoring and evaluation of green social housing ........................................................................................................................ 64
Summary........................................................................................................................................................................................ 69
06 studies of green social housing......................................................................... 72
Matrix for case study selection........................................................................................................................................................ 74
Best practice case study locations.................................................................................................................................................... 80
Best practice case studies ............................................................................................................................................................... 81
Summary: learning from the case studies...................................................................................................................................... 104
Causes for failure of some sustainable social housing projects....................................................................................................... 106
Causes for the performance gap: discrepancies in built performance............................................................................................. 107
Conclusions and recommendations. . .........................................................................114
Key messages and recommendations............................................................................................................................................ 115
Appendix A: Checklist for policy makers......................................................................128

Green building interventions for social housing iii

Ta b l e o f c o n t e n t s

Figure 5.1 Case study locations..........................................................................................................................................................80
Figure 5.2 Heat loss parameter for tested case study homes compared to UK regulatory standards......................................................109
Figure 5.3 Air permeability for tested case study homes compared to practice standards.....................................................................109
Figure 5.4 Thermographic images of heat loss through the floor / wall junction of the party wall in Case A (left)
and heat loss through the parapet junction of the party wall in Case C (right). ..................................................................110

LIST OF tableS
Table 2.1 Environmental challenges in housing construction and occupation.........................................................................................8
Table 5.1 Matrix for case study selection...........................................................................................................................................74
Table 5.2 Case study details of four developments (Lundahl, 2014)....................................................................................................98
Table 5.3 Overview of case study characteristics and specifications...................................................................................................108
Table 5.4 Examples of findings from BPE regarding specific areas of evaluation.................................................................................110
Table 5.5 Common emerging issues between case study developments............................................................................................112

iv Green building interventions for social housing

Ta b l e Boi bf l c
i oognrtae pnht y

Green building interventions for social housing v

L i s t o f A b b r e v i at i o n s

List of Abbreviations
ANSI American National Standards EAHP exhaust air heat pump
Institute EC European Comission
ASHRAE American Society of Heating, ECBC Energy Conservation Building Codes
Refrigerating and Air Conditioning (India)
EE energy efficiency
BEE Bureau of Energy Efficiency (India)
EEDSM energy efficiency demand side
BMA Bangkok Metropolitan management
Administration (Thailand)
EEFP Energy Efficiency Financing Platform
BPE Building Performance Evaluation (India)
BREEAM Building Research Establishments EPC Energy Performance Certificate
Environmental Assessment Method
ESCO energy services companies
CBCS Brazilian Sustainable Construction
EU European Union
FEEED Framework for Energy Efficient
CDHU State of So Paulos Housing and
Economic Development (India)
Urban Development Agency (Brazil)
FiT Feed-in Tariff
CDM Clean Development Mechanism
GBCSA Green Building Council South Africa
CEF Caixa Econmica Federal (Brazils
federal savings bank) GERES Groupe Energies Renouvelables,
Environnement et Solidarites
CFE Comisin Federal de Electricidad
(Mexico) GHB Government Housing Bank
CFL compact fluorescent lamp
GHG greenhouse gas
CHP combined heat and power
GNSH Global Network for Sustainable
CO2 carbon dioxide
CODI Community Organization
GRIHA Green Rating for Integrated Habitat
Development Institute
CONAVI Comisin Nacional de Vivienda
GSHP Ground Source Heat Pump
(Mexico) - Low Income Housing
subsidies HFH Habitat for Humanity

CSH Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) HLC heat loss coefficient

DME Department of Minerals and Energy HLP heat loss parameter

(South Africa) IEA International Energy Agency
DPW Department of Public Works INFONAVIT Instituto del Fondo Nacional de
DSM demand side management la Vivienda para los Trabajadores

vi Green building interventions for social housing

L i s t o f A b b r e v i at i o n s

IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate REBECEE Renewable Energy and Building

Change Exhibitions in Cities of the Enlarged
JI Joint Implementation Europe

kWh kilo watt hour SANS South African National Standards

LED light emitting diode SBAM Sustainable Building Assessment

LEED Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design SBCI Sustainable Building Challenge
LTMS long term mitigation scenarios
SEPF Slovenian Environmental Public
MEPS Minimum Energy Performance
SHE Sustainable Housing Europe
ENERGIA (Brazil) SIP structural insulted panels

mtCO2 million tonnes of Carbon dioxide SSB stabilised soil blocks

MVHR Mechanical ventilation with heat SUDS sustainable urban drainage system
recovery SUSHI Sustainable Social Housing Initiative
NGO non-government organisation TERI The Energy and Resources Institute
NHA National Housing Association (India)

NI North Ireland TSB Technology Strategy Board (UK)

OECD Organisation for Economic ULC Unification of Tenement-Housing

Co-operation and Development Struggles (Brazil)

PHA Piedmont Housing Alliance (USA) UNEP United Nations Environment

PROCEL National Electrical Energy
Conservation Program (Brazil) UVA University of Virginia (USA)

PV photovoltaics WRI World Resources Institute

Green building interventions for social housing vii

Executive Summary

Executive Summary
Background crisis of climate change mitigation. Sustainable
urbanization therefore needs affordable, adequate
The provision of affordable homes is an issue of and green housing options in order to respond to
profound international importance. It is estimated the global rapid population growth especially in
that 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing the low-income housing areas of countries.
and that 100 million people are homeless. The
problem is particularly acute in relation to the
growing urban sector where every week more than
Research challenge
a million people are born in, or move to cities in Within this context, the purpose of this research
the global South. Approximately 1 billion people is to develop a practically-oriented publication
(32% of the global urban population), live in linking the social housing sector of countries
urban slums. If no meaningful action is taken, the with green building interventions which also
United Nations reports that the number of slum include instruments for promoting greening
dwellers worldwide will increase over the next 30 of the social housing sector at the legislative/
years to nearly 2 billion. policy, institutional, financial and technical levels.
The study is implemented in the framework of
Responses to this problem have to be holistic, UN-Habitat and UNEP collaboration on
multi-level and interdisciplinary, and must Sustainable Buildings, and as a part of the
acknowledge local cultural, economic, legislative activities of the Global Network for Sustainable
and environmental factors. Sustainable housing Housing (GNSH). The GNSH has been created
should be seen as a comprehensive process to contribute to the development of sustainable
accounting for environmental, social, cultural, and affordable housing solutions in developing
economic and institutional considerations (UN- and transitional countries, with a specific focus
Habitat, 2012a). There is an urgent need to find on improving the social, cultural, economic and
housing solutions that do not impact adversely environmental sustainability of slum upgrading,
on housing affordability and enhance urban reconstruction, large scale affordable housing and
livelihoods. Moreover, there is an imperative to social housing programmes.
find sustainable housing solutions that address the
growing carbon footprint of the built environment,
and which do not raise more households to levels
What this report is about
of carbon emissions that are unsustainable in terms This report defines the rationale for green building
of operational and embodied carbon burdens intervention on social housing, details international
(as is the current situation with the majority of examples of legislative and regulatory frameworks
housing performance in wealthier countries). for enabling green social housing and identifies
Such poor performance if replicated in the global global and regional forms and approaches to green
provision of affordable housing would exacerbate social housing. A range of technical measures for
environmental change. Instead, solutions must new social housing and environmental retrofitting
be found to address the crisis of affordable of social housing are explained, along with the
housing which also acknowledge the parallel assessment of case studies, best practice and

viii Green building interventions for social housing

Executive Summary

otherwise ineffective cases. As a key lesson, the important to monitor and evaluate all aspects of
importance of engaging residents of social housing sustainable housing including social, economic
through awareness raising and behaviour change is and cultural. Furthermore, the evaluation
emphasised. methodology can ensure progressive development
of green building ideas, design decisions, material
Learning from case studies use, systems installation and commissioning
through the essential step of documentation and
It is essential to involve tenants or residents in all forward-feeding of lessons learned. To do this
discussions at every stage, in order to ensure that effectively it is essential that all teams involved
they have maximum information on how to best document, learn from and feed-forward results
use and live in the dwellings and thus maximise for future design and construction decisions. A
their energy savings and future prospects. In the national or local green building group would be
design and planning stage, always emphasise invaluable in spreading and enabling the learning
life cycle costs and not just the initial cost of from this process.
construction. For participation with residents to
be effective, it is vital to involve them at the earliest The report is structured into six main sections:
possible stage (design brief ) and to use design teams
who have the willingness and necessary skills to 1. The first section provides a background, aims
work well with residents. Serious consideration for and methodology for the report
upgrades must be made when bringing occupants 2. The second section defines the rationale for
out of slums or conditions where they were not green building intervention on social housing
previously responsible for fuel, water or sewage
3. The third section presents a review of relevant
bills. In the construction phase, demonstration or
policy instruments and the application of
mock-ups can be helpful in convincing residents
policy instruments in a selection of case study
to accept new ideas and in assisting builders
in understanding new construction methods
or working with new materials. Following 4. The fourth section reviews green building
occupation, an occupancy review is essential in materials, methods, systems and practices.
order to assess the operation of the building and to
5. The fifth section presents a selected set of best
understand how the building performs compared
practice and ineffective case studies are assessed
to expectations; important lessons are always
using desk research to provide key messages
learned from evaluating the performance of the
and recommendations for greening the existing
building and listening to occupants experience.
and new social housing sector of emerging
Monitoring and evaluation of sustainable housing economies and developing countries.
practices is an important tool to demonstrate to 6. The sixth section concludes the report.
various actors, including the political institutions
and the national/ international financial In addition, an appendix is provided as a checklist
institutions, the benefits of sustainable social in the form of key questions that policymakers can
housing. Monitoring and evaluation should use to review their programmes and policies with
feed into policies and help secure funding. It is regard to the provision of affordable, accessible and
sustainable housing.

Green building interventions for social housing 1


Introduction Background and context
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) the building sector has the
Globally 70 per cent of the nine billion people highest potential to reduce energy use (and resultant
projected to inhabit the world in 2050 will be carbon dioxide emissions) at the lowest cost. The
living in urban areas. As an example, in India it sustainable building agenda is well recognised and
is predicted that by 2020 about 40 per cent of the rapidly growing in developed countries; however,
population will be living in cities; it was around in most developing countries with the largest
28 per cent in 2008 (McNeil et al., 2008). and fastest growing building markets, resource
Currently many countries are facing significant efficiency and sustainability objectives are largely
housing shortages in urban centres due to rapidly neglected in both construction and occupancy
increasing population and urbanisation. In periods (UNEP, 2013). Consequently, the worlds
Malawi, for example, it is estimated that there most populous regions run the risk of locking their
will be a need for 21,000 new households per economies into inefficient and environmentally
annum to accommodate population growth detrimental building stock for decades unless
(UN-Habitat, 2011a). Many new urban efforts are made to introduce and mainstream
dwellers are projected to be low-income groups sustainable building practices. This is especially
not able to participate in the formal housing problematic where in these developing countries
market, strained by high demand and limited there is not only an expansion in construction but
resources only increasing housing prices. Instead, there is a large and growing need for affordable
these new urban dwellers will require access to housing.
affordable or social housing, or alternatively will
end up in slum dwellings (UN-Habitat, 2011). Responses to this twofold problem have to be
Between 2000 and 2010, fifty five million holistic, multi-level and interdisciplinary, and
new slum dwellers were added to the global must acknowledge local cultural, economic,
population (UN-Habitat, 2011a). One of every legislative and environmental factors. Sustainable
three people living in cities in the developing housing should be seen as a comprehensive process
world lives in a slum (UN-Habitat, 2013a). accounting for environmental, social, cultural,
chapter 01: Introduction

economic and institutional considerations are leading the policy development, research and
(UN-Habitat, 2012a). As explained in Going design for environmentally, economically, socially
Green: A handbook of sustainable housing and culturally sustainable housing. Through the
practices in developing countries, sustainability is partnership, GNSH members share experience
more than environmental considerations, wherein and expertise, and develop strategies that promote
social sustainability focuses on empowerment and affordable and sustainable housing practices in
participation in the housing process and beyond, developing and transitional countries and cities
economic sustainability focusses on job creation (GNSH, n.d.). Finally, the Building and Social
and income generation through the process of Housing Foundation (BSHF), an independent
creating affordable housing, cultural sustainability research organisation that promotes sustainable
focusses on respecting the cultural heritage of the development and innovation in housing through
people and the built environment, and finally, collaborative research and knowledge transfer,
institutional sustainability focusses on government among other important activities, organises the
support and responsibility. annual World Habitat Award competition to
identify innovative housing solutions worldwide.
Much work is being done to promote sustainable The World Habitat Award presents 10,000
social housing in developing countries. The annually to two exemplar groups that provide
Sustainable Social Housing Initiative (SUSHI), practical and innovative solutions to current
initiated by the United Nations Environment housing needs and problems. Environmental,
Programme (UNEP) in 2009, involved pilot case social and economic sustainability are fundamental
study projects in Bangkok, Thailand and Sao details of the winning case studies (WHA, 2014).
Paulo, Brazil. The pilot projects aimed to serve as
demonstration projects to raise the awareness and
initiate cooperation between market actors in these
Aims, research methodology and
locations. From 2009 to 2011, project teams in each outputs of the study
location developed a local approach and selected The aim of this report is to develop a practically-
targeted solutions to improve sustainability in social oriented publication linking the social housing
housing considering local priorities, challenges and sector of countries with green building
previous experiences (UNEP, 2013). The Global interventions which also include instruments for
Network for Sustainable Housing, established promoting greening of the social housing sector
through the United Nations Human Settlements at legislative/policy, institutional, financial and
Programme (UN-Habitat), is a partnership that technical levels.
includes several international organizations that
are promoting adequate housing solutions in the The publication aims to assess the current situation
context of slum upgrading, reconstruction, large- and practices but also to give recommendations
scale affordable and social housing, and sustainable and inspiration for new countries to invest in green
urban development. The GNSH works to link social housing programmes.
practitioners, academics and organizations that

Green building interventions for social housing 3

chapter 01: Introduction

The methodology of the study is as follows: The fourth section reviews green building
materials, methods, systems and practices.
A critical review and systematic analysis of
literature comprising of refereed journal articles, The fifth section presents a selected batch of best
research reports, policies, standards, principles practice and ineffective case studies are assessed
and grey literature using desk research to provide key messages
and recommendations for greening the existing
Review of policy instruments on greening the and new social housing sector of emerging
social housing sector. economies and developing countries.
An analytical framework is used to select, assess The sixth section concludes the report.
and summarise best practice and less effective
case studies of green social housing projects: Appendix A provides a checklist in the form of
the case studies were selected from transitional, brief questions, is provided, that policymakers
developing and developed countries. can use to review their programmes and policies
with regard to the provision of affordable,
Summary of chapters: Readers accessible and sustainable housing.
The report is structured into six sections with an

The first section provides a background, aims

and methodology for the report.
The second section defines the rationale for
green building intervention on social housing.
The third section presents a review of relevant
policy instruments and the application of
policy instruments in a selection of case study

4 Green building interventions for social housing

chapter 01: Introduction

Green building interventions for social housing 5


Green building Rationale for green building
intervention in the social housing
interventions in the sector: A win-win scenario?
social housing sector In December 2012, the United Kingdom-based
Commonwealth Development Corporation
(CDC), a development-finance institution, put up
$20m for social housing investments in Eastern
and Southern Africa. The investment is projected
to create 7,500 homes and more than 20,000 jobs.
In Gabon the government is targeting the most
disenfranchised by constructing 35,000 homes
by 2017, there is concern however of the lack of
consultation resulting in possible neglect of social
and cultural considerations. In Ghana housing
is high on the development agenda (The Africa
Report, 2013). In Venezuela the annual target for
affordable housing is 300,000 per annum (Perry,
2013) and in Brazil 500,000 per annum (UN-
Habitat, 2013b). In China there is a vast national
effort to build subsidized housing for the urban
poor and at the same time boost the economy
through the steel, cement, copper, and aluminium
industries. Five million affordable apartments
were scheduled to be built in 2012, with a goal
of reaching 36 million units by the end of 2015
(Roberts, 2012).
Chapter 02: Green building interventions in the social housing sector

Housing development creates multiple The complex issues of poor economic infrastructure
environmental challenges. There is an urgent and extreme poverty in developing countries have
need to find housing solutions that do not resulted in increased environmental problems (CIB
impact adversely on housing affordability and & UNEP-IETC, 2002). Green social housing
enhance urban livelihoods. Moreover, there is an has the capacity to directly or indirectly tackle
imperative to find sustainable housing solutions the existing problems in cities such as solid waste
that address the growing carbon footprint of the management, storm water management, water
built environment, and which do not raise more supply, sanitation, and mosquito control (UN-
households to levels of carbon emissions that are Habitat and UNEP, 2009). Green housing is also
unsustainable in terms of operational and embodied concerned with the indoor air quality provided to
carbon burdens (as is the current situation with occupants, since for example; 1.3 million people
the majority of housing performance in wealthier die prematurely each year due to exposure to
countries). Such poor performance if replicated in indoor air pollution from biomass combustion
the global provision of affordable housing would (UNEP SBCI, 2009a).
exacerbate environmental change.

In order to provide equitable housing for the Benefits of green housing

growing population in need, there will undoubtedly Globally, with proven and commercially-available
be an increase in energy consumption and GHG technologies, the energy consumption in both new
emissions as currently the housing sector is and existing buildings can be reduced by 30-50%
responsible for a large proportion of all energy without significantly increasing the investment
consumption and GHG emissions in the world costs of new construction or renovation projects
(UN-Habitat, 2012a). Inevitably the construction (UNEP SBCI, n.d.). Solutions include improved
of housing requires material production, insulation, well-designed fabric, smart design (e.g.
material transport, unused material disposal appropriate orientation for solar access), low energy
(or recycling), land use. Housing occupation appliances and cooling/heating systems, water-
results in the displacement of rainwater, potable saving devices, water recycling and harvesting,
water consumption, energy consumption, the and incentives to building users to save water and
production of waste and eventual material energy. According to the Intergovernmental Panel
replacement and possible end of life disposal (or on Climate Change (IPCC), the housing sector
re-use and recycling) (Majumdar & Kumar, n.d.). has the most potential for improvement without
Table 2.1 lists these challenges and best and worst extra cost in the near future (UN-Habitat, 2012a).
cases for meeting these challenges. Unmet or suppressed demand and the rebound
effect (Galvin, 2014) however, can offset these

Green building interventions for social housing 7

Chapter 02: Green building interventions in the social housing sector

Table 2.1 Environmental challenges in housing construction and occupation

At best At worst

High embodied energy materials, e.g. Portland

Material production Local material harvested and produced cement, steel
onsite / or transported from a nearby
town or city Materials transported from various other
Material transport

Unused, leftover construction material Reused elsewhere / recycled Landfill

Greenfield development serious natural

Brownfield land reuse or existing habitat displacement, e.g. wetland, loss of
Land use
building reuse forest, resulting in flooding, pollution and
urban heat island

Poor management of onsite drainage, ingress

leading to building damage and mould growth
Displacement of rainwater Rainwater collection and use on site
/ rainwater displacement leading to flooding
and water pollution

Reduce potable water consumption

Typical construction practices, e.g. heavy
Potable water consumption using low flow faucets, rainwater use,
potable water use for toilets
greywater use, composting toilets

Energy generation on site, e.g.

Typical energy consuming practices, no
photovoltaic panels, solar hot water
Energy consumption awareness of solar benefits, no shading when
panels; use of thermal mass to regulate
needed, poor insulation standards.
temperature swings; passive solar spaces

Reuse, recycling, composting toilets,

Material and biological waste on streets and in
Waste waste incineration for local heat and
public passage and water ways, landfill

Building end of life Reuse and recycle Landfill

Awareness and knowledge of the various issues Minimise depletion of natural resources during
involved, local context and options available are construction (less material waste) and operation
required to make good green choices. Possible (less/no fossil fuel use) through use of efficient
environmental, financial and social benefits of building materials, construction practices and
higher resource efficiency savings in homes include renewable sources of energy
(Environment Agency, 2005; Majumdar & Kumar,
Reduced operational costs of homes (lower
utility bills) - Knock-on effect of a reduction
of people and households in fuel and water

8 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 02: Green building interventions in the social housing sector

Use of efficient waste and water management (methods, waste management, preservation of
practices habitat); handover and review (occupant needs
and understanding); maintenance; renovation
Provision of comfortable and hygienic
(adaptation to new needs); and demolition
conditions; improved health of occupants.
(including re-use of materials). Furthermore,
Reduced transport costs (assuming the evaluation of building performance allows learning
sustainable urban context). to be fed back and inform future projects/decisions.
Reduced macro-infrastructure requirements Despite the challenges (outlined in Section 2.4),
(e.g. electricity demand). integrating green building solutions in subsidized
Far reaching environmental benefits from housing units can bring important environmental,
reduced pollution and resource use social and economic paybacks to low-income
inhabitants and to the society as a whole. This
Local natural building material benefits: low
would support sustainable urban management
embodied energy, reduced transport, easier
and socio-economic development while enhancing
to maintain, and potential for reuse and
resource use at local level. Implementing
sustainable concepts may result in considerable
Local materials (easily repaired or replaced), savings in natural resources while reducing the
and reduced energy and water consumption housing shortage. Consequently, sustainability in
inevitably contribute to lower life-cycle costs of social houses can be a win-win for all stakeholders
houses since money is saved in the life cycle of buildings
and this profit could be shared amongst all
Creation of green jobs stakeholders.
In many cases (see Section 5), some green social
housing developments or projects involve the Potential for contribution of
future occupants in the planning, design and sustainable social housing to
construction of their housing. In many cases this climate change mitigation
provides people with valuable planning, building
and political skills to apply elsewhere locally. At Given the substantial growth in new construction
the same time, the green building market has the in economies in transition, and the inefficiencies
capacity to create a demand for a variety of new of existing building stock worldwide, if nothing is
jobs and skill sets. These skill sets are extremely done, GHG emissions from buildings will more
widespread whereas, green building choices can than double in the next 20 years. Therefore, if
be made at all stages of inception, design and global targets for GHG emissions reduction are
development: briefing (scale, location, strategy, to be met, it is essential that mitigation of GHG
environmental impact studies); planning/ emissions from buildings must be on every national
design (site/ orientation, systems); specification climate change strategy. Tackling the emissions
(materials, systems, utility services); construction problem from the building sector, for example

Green building interventions for social housing 9

Chapter 02: Green building interventions in the social housing sector

through green social housing, can create jobs, Good air quality
save money and most importantly, shape a built
Water conservation
environment that has a net positive environmental
influence. Investing in achieving such results in Reduction of emissions
the social housing sector has the potential to boost Material efficiency
the local economy and improve living conditions,
particularly for low-income communities (UNEP Design or operation and maintenance
SBCI, 2009a). In addition, reduction in construction related
imports as a result of sustainable practices can
The technologies and know-how for designing and
significantly reduce transportation emissions.
constructing green buildings are well developed
and available in most countries as commercialised New, well designed buildings will improve indoor
and publicly available information and services thermal comfort levels and provide an opportunity
(UNEP, 2011). Green building provides significant to encourage behavioural and thought patterns
energy-savings as high as 60 per cent compared to which are energy efficient and resource friendly.
typical houses in various climatic conditions at Since the core concept of thermal comfort
normal costs: in cold (Wall, 2006, cited in Flores is more of a state of mind (reflecting different
Larsen et al., 2008), tropical (Garde et al., 2004, cultural, class and geographical conditions) than
cited in Flores Larsen et al., 2008), Mediterranean a technical certainty (ANSI/ASHRAE Standard
(Cardinal and Ruggiero, 2000, cited in Flores 55, 2010) the adoption of western benchmarks for
Larsen et al., 2008), and hot summer/cold winter comfort (achieved by active cooling technology)
climates (Feng, 2004, cited in Flores Larsen et should be vigorously discouraged. Improving
al., 2008). Savings can be achieved through the awareness about good behavioural practices and
following (Halliday, 2008): natural ability to adapt to a range of temperatures
can impact the way future generations use energy.
Simplicity in design
Energy conservation Emerging approaches of social
Passive design housing and linkages to green
Orientation building
Avoiding oversizing Vernacular approaches to building design:
Native landscaping Vernacular approaches to social housing are being
used in Iran (Afshar, et al., 2012), Papua New
Lighting efficiency Guinea, Senegal and Mali (UN-Habitat, 2012a) to
Waste management name a few. Vernacular design has been established
to advance the sustainable aspect in housing in the
Attention to power following ways (Afshar, et al., 2012):
Design for flexibility

10 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 02: Green building interventions in the social housing sector

Social/ cultural Sustainability: culturally Green buildings: Green building can include
sensitive, proven design of safe and secure energy efficiency along with other features such as
homes; healthy materials, water efficiency, sustainable waste
management, resource efficiency, and land use.
Environmental Sustainability: resource-
Often materials and methods used to incorporate
efciency in handling waste, water and energy;
green aspects have synergistic properties providing
energy efficiency and providing other benefits such
Economic Sustainability: cost-efciency over as resource efficiency. As an example a low flow
time. shower head while reducing water consumption
As an example, in Iran the vernacular is defined by will also reduce the energy required to heat the
five fundamental principles, compatibility with the water.
needs of the people, inward-looking, avoidance of High performance / Near zero energy
unnecessary elements, self-efficiency, and structural buildings: High performance or near zero energy
rigidity (Afshar, et al., 2012). Real examples of the buildings are buildings that use less energy than
impact of vernacular materials and methods in a typical building. High performance is achieved
housing include, thick walls which act as thermal through passive or technological methods. Ideally,
mass to store and release heat when beneficial to the high performance buildings passively achieve
occupants, deep roof overhangs to protect facades energy efficiency before using technology to offset
from driving rain and sun, appropriate design for the remaining energy use; however, technically this
local extremes, reduced transport and processing is not required.
emissions of materials, minimised material and
building costs, and ease of training local workers in
the use of local materials and traditional methods
Challenges and opportunities in
(Afshar, et al., 2012; UN-Habitat, 2012a). integrating green interventions in
Energy efficient buildings: energy efficiency
social housing
is attained by reducing the amount of energy
that is required in a typical building. Efficiency Challenges to integrating green
is commonly achieved through passive means, interventions in social housing
e.g., proper orientation of the building onsite, Historically, it is rare for social housing
shading windows from incident solar radiation, programmes to consider the impact of construction
use of thermal mass, improved insulation, and on the natural environment, or the life quality
other means such as using energy efficient lighting of the users. This is the case in both developed
(LEDs) and cooking appliances (UN-Habitat, and developing countries. There are however
2012a). Case studies in Section 5 describe some of significant opportunities to use social housing
these energy efficiency measures applied in social programs to improve the energy consumption,
housing. local economic development, and health and well-
being of occupants (UNEP, 2013). The reasons for

Green building interventions for social housing 11

Chapter 02: Green building interventions in the social housing sector

this negligence can be attributed to the following a low priority for individual homeowners of
challenges: social housing projects.

Lack of confidence about the real benefits of Wrong perception of real costs of sustainable
green buildings to individual homeowners. alternatives: Stakeholders and investors are
often discouraged by the slight increase in
Time and budget constraints: The need for upfront cost of green building solutions while
housing is often urgent and funding is usually not evaluating the true life-cycle cost benefits.
minimal. These constraints easily detract It is proven that many sustainable features
from sustainability or environmental health, such as site selection, attention to layout,
and result in replication of standard details form and window orientation - have little or
without consideration for traditional building no additional capital cost while bringing cost
knowledge, local climate, orientation or actual benefits during occupancy. Spending money on
user needs. Even when green interventions are fabric and design time instead of mechanical
designed in to the brief, rushing development services equipment is a reasonable budget
can result in miscommunication, skipping over balancing method. Furthermore, although
commissioning of systems and neglecting to some sustainable solutions cost more at the
check if work was performed properly. These beginning, they can provide both capital and
situations can be detrimental and can often running costs since heating and cooling systems
lock-in inefficiencies for the life of buildings. would be smaller (Halliday, 2008)
Inadequate and expensive resources: Access Land-use constraints: Social housing is
to skilled workers and construction materials difficult to integrate in existing urban contexts
and equipment is usually limited and/or too due to land costs and availability of land.
expensive as a result of the growing demand. Disconnection from urban social and economic
Social housing programs are always competing life is highly unsustainable and contributes to
with commercial projects to absorb resources high commuting distances for workers, little
while they are often relatively less well funded. access to infrastructure, services and social and
Incorrect perception about the amount of economic opportunities.
energy consumption in social housing: It is Lack of related skills, research, and knowledge
incorrect to assume (as is commonly done) that among stakeholders: Lack of awareness is
there is no need to invest in energy demand another barrier. Stakeholders such as developers
reduction in social housing due to the perceived and financiers could benefit from performance
low levels of energy consumption in these data for decision making.
buildings. However, it still has to be admitted
that energy and water consumption and Fragmentation in the process of design,
associated cost per household is less compared construction, use and maintenance over
to typical house, and therefore, energy and the life-cycle of a building: As the building
water efficiency, and conservation are often is commissioned by an agency, designed by
a different company, built by a third party

12 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 02: Green building interventions in the social housing sector

and inhabited by different users, there is little Governments in developing countries can take
communication between actors. This impedes major steps toward developing a supportive
a long-term vision and results in a failure to institutional and financial framework for
consider distribution of life-cycle costs across facilitating green interventions in social housing.
the life of a building. Similarly, split incentives Such measures include (Keivani, et al., 2010):
is a barrier hampering the uptake of green
buildings. Project promoters may not have any Developing an appropriate legislative
incentive to incorporate energy efficiency and framework that clearly sets out the benefits of
water efficiency in their projects, as they do green interventions, emphasising the refinement
not get paid back for their investments as the of environmental considerations rather than
benefits would go only to the homeowners or requiring major technological shifts.
tenants. Home owners and tenants have the Devising an appropriate financial framework
same disincentive (Sreshthaputra, 2010). with tax and, if possible, grant schemes that
encourage green building interventions in
Opportunities and benefits of integrating social housing.
green interventions in social housing Clearly setting out the role of different
Despite the challenges, integrating green building stakeholders and facilitating their participation
solutions in subsidized housing units can bring in the development process.
important environmental, social and economic Information awareness and information-
paybacks to low-income inhabitants and to the sharing activities targeted at all stakeholders
society as a whole. Specifically, green growth through formal national sustainable building
can re-evaluate and build upon traditional information packages, regulations, media
construction practices which are often socially and campaigns and project consultation meetings.
environmentally sustainable and suited to local
climate and context. In addition, green construction It is important to note, however, that not all
can offer considerable employment opportunities potential design and construction impacts are
for traditional activities like bricklaying and beneficial (whether green or not), for example it
unskilled labour; there is also the opportunity may involve displacement/relocation of people
for training the labour force in more specialised or an increased population placing increased
skills such as installation of PV equipment (e.g., demands on infrastructure facilities like schools
solar panels), solar hot water systems, as well as and hospitals. Theoretically however, the
upstream and downstream occupations in supply, development is not sustainable when negative
management and maintenance of specialised impacts occur whether environmental, social or
equipment (Keivani et al., 2010). economic. Sustainability should be applied in a
holistic manner to provide:

Green building interventions for social housing 13

Chapter 02: Green building interventions in the social housing sector

Quality of housing units (longer lifetime, less The building sector is a significant source of
maintenance, less defects); energy and water consumption and waste. This
consumption not only occurs during the use of
Quality of life (healthier environment, well-
the building but before in areas such as material
production and construction. Green housing have
Market opportunities (local products promoted, been proven to be effective in reducing GHG
more sustainable materials); emissions, water consumption, and material
Reduced environmental impact and costs over waste. With proven and commercially-available
the life cycle; and technologies, the energy consumption in both new
and existing housing can be reduced by 30-50%
Urban planning and Social integration/ without significantly increasing the investment
interaction. costs of new construction or renovation projects
(van der Lugt, 2009). These benefits can be coupled
Summary with the potential to create green jobs. Creation of
As the levels of atmospheric CO2 continue to jobs and improved labour skills are the products
rise beyond what was considered a safe level it is of conscious consideration of social environments
becoming critical that the worlds emissions must during planning and construction (Pearce, 2003).
be reduced to avoid devastating consequences Ultimately, considering the pressures of growth and
(IPCC, 2014). At the same time there is urgency development in developing countries, sustainable
for affordable, habitable housing for the increasing construction of social housing is a severely urgent
number of people living in less than humane agenda; it is imperative to look to green building
conditions. as it offers the most feasible source for reducing
demand on energy supplies, direct and indirect
CO2 emissions, and has the potential to improve
economic growth.

14 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 02: Green building interventions in the social housing sector

Green building interventions for social housing 15


Green building policy Policy options for greening new
measures for greening and existing social housing
social housing
In their Assessment of Policy Instruments for
Reducing GHG emissions from buildings,
UNEP has classified green/sustainable building
policy into four categories (UNEP SBCI, 2009a;
Environment Agency, 2005):

1. Regulatory and control instruments:

Building Regulations, planning legislation
and controls, etc. Local regulations to
complement and build on to national
2. Economic and market-based instruments:
Energy savings performance contracting;
energy efficiency certificate
3. Fiscal instruments and incentives: Tax
subsidies for more efficient products, tax
penalties/ product charges on non-sustainable
building materials and equipment, local tax
subsidies for homes built to higher standards,
financial assistance/ capital support for the
sustainable installations and preferable rate
mortgages for resource efficient homes.
Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

4. Support, information and voluntary actions: of social housing along with local incentives will
The public sector leads with regulations encourage developers. As an example, whereas
requiring all public buildings to be built some cities require or incentivise developers to
to high energy performance standards allocate a proportion of development to social
to accelerate the pace of innovation and housing, similarly sustainable measures can be
mainstreaming higher standards, helping regulated and provision of sustainable housing can
to bring down; building information, e.g. be incentivised through the enabling approach
manuals, explaining how to achieve the (UN-Habitat, 2011c) (or further incentivised
optimal environmental performance. beyond what is required), thereby creating green
social housing through two methods.
These policies are generally assessed for cost
effectiveness and effectiveness in actually reducing Economic and market-based instruments also
GHG emissions (Table 3.1 following page). scored fairly well on both counts, as did tax
Many policy instruments were found to be effective exemptions and reductions (fiscal instrument).
in achieving emission reductions and in actual cost Many of the instruments can achieve high savings
savings (benefits of saved energy and the associated at low and even negative costs when adapted
avoided expenses are factored into the cost-benefit to the local situation (UNEP SBCI, 2009a).
assessment). Regulatory and control instruments Fiscal instruments and incentives are effective in
were found to be effective in emissions and cost encouraging development of green social housing
reduction. These instruments, specifically building and can be complementary to regulatory and
regulations and local complementary regulations, control instruments. The general taxpayer pays
can be used to ensure a certain standard of green the most when financial or economic incentives
housing, requiring the benefits of sustainable are used to encourage higher resource efficiency
development to be provided for all citizens standards. However this redistribution could be
regardless of economic position or tenure, notably justified by the long term national saving from
those in social housing. avoided environmental/ clean-up costs and the fact
that poorer households tend to benefit most from
Where higher standards are achieved through
reduced utility bills. Building codes, standards
nationwide regulation and standards, the
and regulations should ensure social, cultural,
developer will initially have to pay any increased
environmental and economic sustainability in
cost. However, where the developer can use
housing, should be inclusive of all sectors of
the environmental credentials of the houses to
the population, and should include the use of
differentiate them from conventional homes, any
sustainable technologies, materials and methods
increased cost may be passed on to the house buyer
(UN-Habitat, 2012a).
through a higher selling price. In social housing,
there will need to be local incentives to assist
developers in developing sustainable housing such
as making it easier to obtain planning permission.
In addition, financially incentivising greening

Green building interventions for social housing 17

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Table 3.1 Summary Table of Policies to Reduce GHG Emissions in the Building Sector

Policy instruments Emission Reduction Cost- Special conditions for success, major strengths
Effectiveness effective-ness and limitations, co-benefits

Regulatory and control instruments

Factors for success: periodical update of standards,

Appliance standards High High independent control, information, communication,

Building codes High Medium Only effective if enforced and periodically updated

Continuous improvements necessary: new energy

Energy efficiency
High High efficiency measures, short term incentives to transform
obligations and quotas

Mandatory audit Most effective if combined with other measures such as

High, but variable Medium
requirement financial incentives

Mandatory programs more effective than voluntary

Labelling and certification
Medium/High High ones. Effectiveness can be boosted by combination with
other instrument and regular updates

Demand-side management Tend to be more cost-effective for the commercial sector

High High
programs (DSM) than for the residential sector.

Economic and market-based instruments

Energy savings
Strength: no need for public spending or market
performance contracting High Medium
intervention, co-benefit of improved competitiveness.
(EPC)/ESCO support

Combination with standards and labelling, choice of

Cooperative procurement High Medium/High
products with technical and market potential

No long-term experience. Transaction costs can be high.

Energy efficiency certificate
Medium High/Medium Institutional structures needed. Profound interactions
schemes/white certificates
with existing policies. Benefits for employment

Kyoto Protocol flexible So far limited number of Clean Development Mechanism

Low Low
mechanisms (CDM) & JI projects in buildings

18 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Fiscal instruments and incentives

Effect depends on price elasticity. Revenues can be

Taxation (on CO2 or fuels) Low / Medium Low earmarked for further energy efficiency support schemes.
More effective when combined with other tools

If properly structured, stimulate introduction of highly

Tax exemptions/ reductions High High
efficient equipment in existing and new building.

Success factors: independent administration of funds,

Public benefit charges Medium High
regular monitoring & feedback, simple & clear design

Capital subsidies, grants, Positive for low-income households, risk of free-riders,

High / Medium Low
subsidised loans may induce pioneering investments

Support, information and voluntary action

Can be effective when regulations are difficult to

Voluntary and negotiated
Medium / High Medium enforce, combined with financial incentives, and threat
of regulation

Public leadership programs, Can be effectively used to demonstrate new

including procurement Medium / High High/Medium technologies and practices. Mandatory programs have
regulations higher potential than voluntary ones

Education and information More applicable in residential sector than commercial.

Low / Medium Medium/High
programs Best applied in combination with other measures

Detailed billing and Success conditions: combination with other measures

Medium Medium
disclosure programs and periodic evaluation


Several instruments have very different impacts measures have been found to be the most effective
in different countries; high in some cases and and cost-efficient techniques, as shown by UNEP
low in others. This is likely due to differences in case studies. They all achieved ratings of high or
policy tool design and implementation to the local medium according to both criteria. Measures
context such as income levels and energy prices as which can be designed both as voluntary and
well as due to interactions with other instruments as mandatory, such as labelling/ green building
already in place in the country. In developed and certification programmes or energy efficient public
developing countries, overall, appliance standards, procurement policies have been revealed as more
building codes, labelling certification programmes, effective when they are mandatory. However,
utility demand side management (DSM) enforcement problems can seriously undermine
programs and tax exemptions achieved the highest the effectiveness of these instruments, especially in
savings (cost-effectiveness of CO2 reduction). developing countries (UNEP SBCI, 2007).
In developing countries, regulatory and control

Green building interventions for social housing 19

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Aside from policy incentives there are inherent not exist or are lacking, institutional support
potential benefits to the developer from building for achieving green social housing is crucial
to enhanced resource efficiency standards (UN-Habitat, 2012a).
(Environment Agency, 2005). These are:
In addition to the will to meet sustainability
Potential waste reductions associated with the objectives there must be the capacity to enforce
construction process. The construction sector regulatory policies; lack of enforcement has been
produces millions of tons of waste each year and identified as a major weakness in energy policies
a significant portion of the delivered materials in developing countries. There also must be the
are never used. support to train professionals in the technical
knowledge and skills and the capacity to collect,
Demonstration of sustainability credentials
analyse and use data pertaining to sustainability
to local authorities, investors and consumers.
indicators, e.g. energy consumption (UNEP SBCI,
Added value and performance against
2009a). Monitoring and evaluation (research that
competitors (competitive advantage) where
can include occupant comfort studies, energy
the developer is able to establish a position as a
and water consumption figures) is an important
market leader in developing sustainable homes.
tool which can be used to demonstrate the
Knowledgeable foothold and relevance with environmental, economic and social benefits
regard to forthcoming new regulations and of sustainable housing and the effectiveness of
legislation. certain policy instruments (UN-Habitat, 2012a).
Comprehensive building level energy data is
Enabling legislative and proven to be essential in shaping and verifying
regulatory frameworks the impact of energy policy. Upon review of the
CO2 emission reduction approaches in USA, UK
To scale up green social housing, the institutional and India, Gupta and Chandiwala (2012) revealed
framework of housing must have sustainability that the UK had good CO2 reduction policies in
as a goal. Because governmental policies guide place, but limited bottom up energy data sources
urban growth, land use, and housing regulation, to verify the impact of these policies; USA had
institutional support has a direct and indirect access to relevant data on energy use and profiles
impact on sustainability inside and outside from the EIA and US DOE but lacked substantial
of housing. Governments and laws through policy targets to promote energy efficiency;
policy and institutions should support green while India was lacking in both data sources and
social housing to meet social housing demand. substantial policy infrastructure, a situation which
Institutional sustainability maintains presence, is complicated by the large rural/ urban divide.
strengthens abilities and guides evolution of
mandates which are essential in ensuring long
term environmental, cultural, social and economic
sustainability. Particularly in developing countries,
where legislative and regulatory frameworks do

20 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Supporting financial mechanisms Fiscal Incentives for the Purchase of Energy

Building codes alone will not ensure the
Efficient Equipment
progressive steps needed to provide green social Though less common than appliance standards,
housing. Countries need to go above standards by some governments have tried to encourage the
implementing other drivers such as subsidies, tax use of energy efficient appliances through fiscal
incentives and feed-in-tariffs. incentives. The most popular are reductions on
import tax or VAT on efficient equipment. The
Capital Subsidies, Grants, compact fluorescent lamp is the most common
equipment for this type of measure outside of the
Subsidized Loans and Rebates
OECD, such as in Ghana, Morocco and Israel
Capital subsidies, grants, subsidized loans and (UNEP SBCI, 2009a).
rebates are used in many countries to encourage
building owners and occupants to invest in energy
Public Benefit Charges
efficiency measures and equipment. Subsidies are
very common in the residential sector in order Public benefit charges, similar to energy taxes
to overcome the major barrier of high first costs. where revenue is invested in energy efficiency, raise
They have been used to finance better insulation funds from the operation of the energy market to
such as roof insulation in the U.K., more efficient be directed into demand side management (DSM)
equipment such as refrigerators in Germany, and and energy efficiency activities. As an example,
energy audits in France. Some governments have in Brazil, all distribution utilities are required to
also introduced soft loans schemes whereby loans spend at least one percent of their revenues on
for installing energy efficiency equipment are energy efficiency improvements, while at least one-
offered at a subsidized interest rate. quarter of this amount has to be spent on end-use
efficiency projects. Effectiveness in terms of the
Some governments prefer to use fiscal measures total amount of GHG saved is moderate (UNEP
such as tax incentives to encourage investment SBCI, 2009a).
in energy savings and efficiency measures in
buildings. For the residential sector, tax credits
Green Mortgages
and tax deductions are most popular. Almost 40
percent of OECD countries offer tax credits for Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEMs) or Energy
energy efficiency measures. The World Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs), often referred to
Council (WEC) found that fiscal incentives are as green mortgages, are loans which provide the
considered better than subsidies in that they cost borrower with lower interest rates or a bigger loan
less, but that they usually have a poor performance than normally permitted as a reward for making
in an economy in recession or in transition (UNEP energy-efficient improvements or for buying a
SBCI, 2009a). home that meets energy-efficiency standards.

Green building interventions for social housing 21

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

One of the prerequisites for the introduction of Feed-in tariff (FIT), advanced renewable
green mortgages is the existence of nationally tariff, renewable energy payments
recognized energy performance standards. The
economic rationale behind green mortgages is that Regulatory targets are usually complemented by
energy-efficient homes will save money for the price-based instruments such as feed-in tariffs.
home-owner, resulting in a higher income which Governments require their energy utilities or
qualifies the beneficiary to borrow more (UNEP suppliers to purchase electricity from private
SBCI, 2009a). A case study in green mortgages is suppliers at a rate set by the government, preferably
detailed in Section 3.5.5. higher than that paid for electricity generated from
conventional sources. By 2009 the total number

Figure 3.1 Countries or territories currently with or previously had FiT programmes
in place

UNEP SBCI, 2009a; REW, 2009; PVTECH, 2014; Seppl, 2014.

22 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

of countries with feed-in tariffs was 45; states/ Combinations of policy

provinces/territories at 18. Figure 3.1 shows the
countries and territories which have implemented instruments and barriers
feed-in tariffs. Municipal and local governments to their implementation
can also and have introduced feed-in tariffs at the
In almost all cases, policy targets are best achieved
local level (UNEP SBCI, 2009a).
through a combination of instruments, or
Of the major energy producers and consumers policy packages, rather than one or two policies
in the world, Chinas 2005 Renewable Energy implemented alone. Furthermore, there may be
Law stipulates that 10 per cent of total power overlap between the policy targets, for example,
consumption should come from renewable sources promoting investment in energy efficiency measures
by 2020, while the EU has set an even more and changing consumer behaviour. Decision-
ambitious target of 20 per cent by 2020. While the makers can mix-and-match their policies to find
US and Canada do not have national targets, states the optimum solutions to fit particular carbon
and provinces currently have their own policy reduction goals (UNEP SBCI, 2009a).
targets on renewable energy. Renewable energy
Every policy measure has its own advantages, ideal
markets have also been boosted by the enactment
target groups and specific operational mechanisms.
of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) in several
Each is tailored to overcome one or a few certain
major energy consuming countries, notably the
market barriers, but none can address all the
United States. These consist of electricity generation
barriers. Thus, none of them can alone capture the
requirements, imposed on electric utilities by state
entire potential for energy efficiency improvements
legislatures, to provide either a specific amount of
even in a single location, nor can one instrument
electric capacity or a percentage of total capacity
be singled out as a generally applicable best
from renewable sources. Utilities can also purchase
solution. In addition, most instruments achieve
renewable energy credits from external sources
higher savings if they operate in combination with
to fulfil these obligations. As of early 2009, 9
other tools, and often these impacts are synergistic,
countries had enacted national RPS policies, while
i.e. the impact of the two is larger than the sum
29 U.S. states, 3 Canadian provinces, 5 Indian
of the individual expected impacts (IEA, 2005).
states and Wallonia and Flanders in Belgium
Therefore, policies are rarely enacted in isolation,
had introduced RPS at the state/provincial level.
but rather as part of a complex policy framework.
Although the transaction costs of these schemes are
initially high, and advanced institutional structures
are required, Renewable Portfolio Standards enable
the establishment of a marketplace for trading
certificates and thus provide a tangible incentive
for investments in renewable energy (UNEP SBCI,

Green building interventions for social housing 23

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

A number of combinations of policy instruments reduce GHG emissions (Warren, 2007). Measures
are possible as illustrated in table 3.2. Usually, to attract attention can be information programs,
combining sticks (regulations), and carrots but also simply choosing the right channels to
(incentives), with tambourines (measures to reach citizens such as via energy suppliers as
attract attention such as information or public intermediaries (UNEP SBCI, 2007).
leadership programs), have the highest potential to

Table 3.2 A selection of possible policy instrument packages and examples of

commonly applied combinations.

Measure Regulatory Information Financial /Fiscal Voluntary Agreements

instruments instruments Incentives

Building codes and Standards and

Regulatory Building codes and Voluntary agreements with a
standards for building information
instruments subsidies threat of regulation
equipment programs

Information Appliance standards and
campaigns, and Labelling and subsidies Voluntary MEPS and labelling
instruments labelling
retailer training

Energy audits and

Financial/Fiscal Appliance standards and Technology procurement and
subsidies, Labelling Taxes and subsidies
Incentives subsidies subsidies
and tax exemptions

Voluntary Voluntary agreements Industrial agreements
agreements and
Agreements with a threat of regulation and tax exemptions
energy audits

Note: MEPS (Minimum Energy Performance Standards).

Adapted from IEA, 2005.

Barriers Stakeholders such as developers and financiers

could benefit from performance data fordecision
A significant barrier for promoting sustainable
alternatives through voluntary action is the lack
of confidence about the real benefits of green A wide range of barriers in the markets, technologies,
buildings to individual homeowners. Another end-user demand, building design, construction,
closely linked deterrent is the additional initial and operation, as well as in the purchase and use of
investment required. Energy and water efficiency appliances can impede the reduction in emissions.
and conservation still remains a low priority for The most important barriers that pertain to
individual homeowners of social housingprojects, buildings are discussed below (Boardman, 2007;
since energy and water consumption and associated Creyts, et al., 2007; Planning Commission, 2005;
cost per household is less compared to typical Urge-Vorsatz, et al., 2007a).
houses. Lack of information is another barrier.

24 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Table 3.3 Types of Implementation Barriers

Barriers Description

Financial Upfront costs of products

Time costs; transaction costs with providers; quality of product/cost differences; Information about
Hidden Costs

Household knowledge on their level of energy expenditure and regarding how much, and at what cost
Lack of Information
(investment), energy can be reduced.

Risks and uncertainty Unsure of savings due to uncertainty on future energy prices

In rental market, tenants have no incentive to reduce their energy use as their landlord covers the
Poorly aligned incentives
energy bill

Psychological/ sociological Habit and late adopter mentality

Regulatory Some regulations cause difficulties for households to benefit from or consider energy efficient measures.

Gupta & Chandiwala, 2012.

Possible barriers are (Urge-Vorsatz, et al., 2007b): The Carbon Trust in the UK classifies these barriers
into four main categories:
Financial - higher initial costs, hidden costs and
benefits not directly captured in financial flows real market failures;
Market - failures might arise when policies or financial costs/benefits;
incentives not translating into actual benefits
behavioural/ organizational; and
Behaviour lack of incentives/barriers to change
hidden costs/benefits (The Carbon Trust, 2005).
behaviour/ life style choices which hinder
Further classification of key barriers are summarised
in table 3.3 below.

Green building interventions for social housing 25

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Given these barrier descriptions, table 3.4 below summarises the range of policy instruments to overcome
major barriers to implementation.

Table 3.4 The range of policy instruments to overcome major barriers to

Barrier Category Instrument Category Policy Instruments as Remedies

Economic Barriers Regulatory- normative/ Appliance standards, building codes, energy efficiency obligations,
regulatory informative mandatory labelling, procurement regulation, DSM programs
Economic Instruments EPC/ESCOs, Cooperative Procurement, Energy Efficiency Certificates
Fiscal Instruments Taxation, public benefit charges, tax exemptions, subsidies/ rebates/

Hidden Costs/ Benefits Regulatory-normative Appliance standards, building codes

Economic instruments EPC/ESCOs
Support action Public leadership programs

Market Failures Regulatory-normative/ Appliance standards, building codes, energy efficiency obligations,
regulatory informative mandatory labelling, procurement regulation, DSM programs
EPC/ESCOs, cooperative procurement, energy efficiency certificates,
Economic instruments Fiscal Kyoto flexibility mechanisms
instruments Taxation, public benefit charges, tax exemptions, subsidies/ rebates/
Support, information,
Voluntary labelling, voluntary agreement, public leadership programs,
voluntary action
awareness raising, detailed billing

Cultural/ Behavioural Support, information, Voluntary labelling, voluntary agreement, public leadership programs,
Barriers voluntary action awareness raising, detailed billing

Information Barriers Support, information, Voluntary labelling, voluntary agreement, public leadership programs,
voluntary action awareness raising, detailed billing, mandatory labelling, procurement
Regulatory/informative regulations, DSM programs, mandatory audits

Structural/Political Support action Public leadership programs

Kumar, 2009; Creyts, et al., 2007; The Carbon Trust, 2005; Urge-Vorsatz, et al., 2007a.

26 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Emerging best practice in promoting greening of the social housing sector

at the legislative/policy, institutional, financial and technical levels
The following five subsections present the policy findings for South Africa, India, Brazil, Thailand and
Mexico (figure 3.2). The case studies describe effective policy instruments (described above) which are
either implemented or in planning stages.

Figure 3.2 Policy case study locations

South Africa produced 2.4 million houses in the past 12 years

before 2011. This is considered a significant
68 per cent of South Africas 12.5 million dwelling
achievement since for the first time in the history
units comprise formal housing while the rest is
of the country the housing backlog figure is lower
made up of backyard properties, informal and
than the number of houses produced. In contrast,
squatter units (Ziuku and Meyer, 2011). The
there is little evidence of affordable land and
Department of Housing in South Africa has
housing in other Sub-Saharan countries; housing

Green building interventions for social housing 27

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

programmes either do not exist, are not affordable, The lack of evidence and risk-benefit analysis of
or are insufficient to meet demand (UN-Habitat, real projects expounds the perceived business
2011b). Historical trends and anticipated growth risk associated with investments in the energy
from government investment programmes are efficiency of buildings. Underestimation of
expected to increase investment in residential and life-cycle cost benefit is also common.
non-residential buildings by around 2 per cent per
Energy costs are often a comparatively
year between 2008 and 2050 which would result
small part of the overall costs for a building:
in the total building stock doubling by 2050. If
Currently reduced energy bills provide a weak
CO2 emissions were left unchecked, this would
economic incentive especially since building
result in a twofold increase in emissions.
costs occur over a short period while energy
The most prevalent type of dwelling unit is a house costs are spread over the lifetime of the building.
or brick structure on a separate stand or yard,
Policy Assessment
which reflects a historic preference of homeowners
The major opportunities for energy efficiency in the
for this type of unit. There has, however, been a
residential building sector in South Africa have to
trend away from this preference over recent years
date tended to focus on solar-water heating, geyser
as homeowners have increasingly appreciated the
blankets, space heating efficiency, energy efficient
benefits of living in flats, townhouses and cluster
lighting and behaviour change. Collectively, it is
units (UNEP SBCI, 2009b).
estimated that these opportunities could result
For South Africa, change in the building sector is in energy efficiencies in new buildings of around
complex, due to: 30% to 40% in the residential sector. Several
policy instruments and initiatives that focus on the
Fragmentation of the building sector: There is boost of these opportunities in the building sector
limited interaction and co-ordination between are being developed and implemented in South
stakeholders sectors (architecture, engineering, Africa, most notably: demand-side management
building management, building function, initiatives; guidelines for energy-efficient buildings
occupants etc.) across the various life cycle stages (SANS 204); building rating systems (Green Star
of a building resulting in a lack of incentive for SA); and retrofitting of government buildings
a life-cycle approach to managing energy use in (table 3.5).
Some of the common opportunities for energy
Split economic interests: Decisions on efficiency in green buildings both in commercial
building design are often made by parties and residential sector include solar-water
(designers and investors) who do not directly heating and changing occupant behaviour.
benefit from improvements in energy-efficiency
and reduction in associated costs. Other policy mechanisms such as tax
exemptions/ reductions, which work effectively
internationally, are not being considered in
South Africa at present.

28 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

A few of the policy instruments, identified in the financial and capacity constraint; and large amounts
National Energy Strategy of South Africa, have of time scales required for implementation. Though
not yet been implemented such as: appliance limitations exist, the significant need for action to
standards, mandatory audit requirement; and address climate change and energy efficiency is well
labelling and certification programmes recognised in the public and corporate sectors, and
there are many examples at national, provincial
In general, there is a much discussion around
and local level where the public sector is beginning
the need for policies and best practices to be
to demonstrate leadership. The challenge, however,
implemented in the building sector, but this has
remains translating intent into action.
not been converted into concrete actions due to

Table 3.5 Best Practice policy instruments and status in South Africa

Assessment of Energy Efficiency/GHG Emission Reduction Policies

Policy instrument Emission Reduction Cost- South African Status

Effectiveness Effectiveness

Appliance standards High High Not readily available in SA, no requirements in


Energy-efficiency obligations High High National draft recommendations in place.

and quotas

Demand side management High High National DSM programme in place but constrained
programmes (DSM) by finance.

Tax exemptions/ reductions High High Under consideration.

Cooperative procurement High Medium/High No requirements

Building codes High Medium SANS 204 currently only voluntary and could take
up to three years to be mandatory. Will only specify
minimum standards and only applicable to new

Mandatory audit requirement High, but variable Medium No requirements in place.

Energy performance High Medium Limited use for public-sector retrofitting but stopped
contracting (EPC)/ESCO due to irregularities.

Capital subsidies, grants, High Low Very limited.

subsidised loans

Labelling and certification Medium/High High Voluntary certification in place (e.g. Green Star SA,
programmes based on the Australian system and customised
for South Africa), with mandatory requirements for
public buildings under consideration.

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Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Public leadership Medium/High High/Medium Public leadership growing, often constrained by

programmes, incl. finance, capacity or regulatory obstacles.
procurement regulations

Voluntary and negotiated Medium/High Medium Energy-efficiency agreements in place amongst

agreements industry and public sector, progress somewhat

Public benefit Charges Medium High Not in place.

Energy-efficiency certificate Medium High/Medium Not in place.

schemes/white certificates

Detailed billing and disclosure Medium Medium Not in place.


Education and information Low/Medium Medium/High Limited.


Kyoto Protocol flexible Low Low Some progress.


Taxation (on CO2 or fuels) Low Low Under consideration.

UNEP SBCI, 2009b.

The following are policies and legislation set to In 2006, the South African Cabinet commissioned
reduce GHG emissions with direct bearing on the a process to examine the potential for mitigation
housing sector in South Africa: of South Africas GHG emissions. Long Term
Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS) are aimed at providing
White paper on energy policy for Republic a strong scientific base to inform the Cabinet in
of South Africa, 1998: served to increase the creation of a long-term climate policy. These
electrification of households while encouraging scenarios for the residential sector set percentage
energy efficient housing design. reduction goals for the following measures: solar
Construction industry development board water heating, water tank insulation, insulation
act 38, 2000: aimed at determining and measures for space heating reduction and efficient
establishing best practice that promotes positive lighting (UNEP SBCI, 2009b).
safety, health and environmental outcomes. All
construction contracts above a prescribed tender
value will then be assessed for compliance with
best practice standards and guidelines published
by the Board.

30 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Regulatory and control policy (e.g. CFLs). Some of the current DSM initiatives
In addition there is the South African National include: the mass replacement of incandescent
Standard (SANS) 204 for energy efficiency in light bulbs with energy-efficient CFL light bulbs
buildings. Residential houses need to comply and smart metering.
with SANS 204-2 which specifies requirements
for, amongst others, the following: orientation Case study in South Africa
requirements, minimum R-value for building Cape Town Solar Water By-Laws: The City of
elements, permissible air leakage levels, hot water Cape Town has adopted an Energy and Climate
services, and mechanical ventilation and air Change Strategy in which one of the goals is to
conditioning (SABS, 2011). have 1 million solar water heater (SWH) systems
installed by 2014. To achieve this target the city is
A green building rating system, Green Star SA engaging in a number of initiatives, 1) Solar water
has been developed for South Africa, adopted Heater Bylaw: A subsidisation scheme, to assist staff
from the Australian model and adapted to suit below a certain income level to fit a SWH in their
South Africa. Like the Australian rating system, it home; 2) project to fit SWHs to the citys nature
is a voluntarystandard for various building types reserve facilities; 3) provide support to the service
based on an assessment of environmental design providers to help overcome the market failures
categories. that prevent mass uptake of solar water heaters;
and 4) Solar water heaters have been promoted
Voluntary action: leadership through a national rebate scheme. The solar water
Government building retrofit initiative is being heater programme has the potential to boost local
driven by the Department of Minerals and Energy economic and industrial development with the
(DME) in conjunction with the Department of creation of sustainable jobs (Phakathi, 2012).
Public Works (DPW), in line with the DMEs
energy-efficiency strategy in which government
will lead by example through raising energy-
efficiency awareness and by implementing specific India is now a key global economic and
measures within its own estate. A target for energy- political player and its developing economy is
demand reduction of 12% (of projected energy shifting towards the service sector, creating an
consumption) is to be met by 2015 (UNEP SBCI, upwardly mobile urban middle class. The Indian
2009b). Leading by example is considered to be construction industry has an annual growth
effective in creating awareness for green building rate of 9.2% compared to the global average of
materials and methods. 5.5%. Current trends project that 40% of Indias
population will be living in cities by 2020, in
Energy Efficiency Demand Side Management contrast to 28% in 2008 (McNeil, et al., 2008).
(EEDSM) Initiative: The focus in the residential The second largest energy consumer in India is
sector is for energy-efficiency savings. The the building sector and building energy use is
residential sector offers the best opportunities to increasing by over 9% annually, whilethe national
quickly roll out low-cost/ high-impact technologies energy growth rate is far lower at 4.3% (USAID

Green building interventions for social housing 31

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

and LBNL, 2006). An element to Indias success Key policy interventions:

in affordable housing provision is through a variety
of policy mechanisms linked to a large quantity Provide energy use information: labelling of
of publicly owned land. Though there is success, appliances, energy use information by units
India has around 109 million slum dwellers within industrial sectors
(UN-Habitat, 2011c). Mandate standards: building codes, sectoral
energy consumption norms in industry, market
Electricity, oil, coal, biomass and gas are Indias
mechanisms to promote energy efficiency in
key end-use energy products; the building sector
mainly consumes electricity (for appliances,
heating/cooling and lighting) and gas/biomass/ Reduce perceived risk: market transformation
oil (for cooking). Primary energy sources for and demand side management, performance
electricity are dominated by coal which is used to guarantee contracting
produce 71% of total electricity while hydro power Incentives: differential taxation, preference in
produces 14%, natural gas 8%, and diesel and government procurement
nuclear each represent 3% (De laRue du Canet
al.,2009). Since the building sector (domestic and The Indian Ministry of Housing and Urban
commercial) accounts for approximately 33% of Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) has developed
electricity consumption and is the fastest growing several programmes that aim to increase affordable
sector, it is critical that policies and measures are housing supply and improve existing slums. In
put in place to improve energy efficiencyin both the private sector, however, one issue in affordable
new construction as well as existing buildings. In housing provision is that there is a lack of lower-
fact it is estimatedthat 70% of the building stock income finance options. Without finance private
in the year 2030 is yet to be built - asituation that is developers are unable to sell low-cost housing units
fundamentally different from developed countries which they are able to produce. Some states in India
such as theUK and US (Kumar, et al., 2010). require a percentage of a private development to
be allocated to the Economically Weaker Section
Policy Assessment (EWS), Haryana for example, requires 20 per cent
The Indian building sector is moving towards of total plots in order to obtain a development
controlling its GHG emissions, without licence (UN-Habitat, 2011c).
compromising on its development objectives,
Table 3.6 illustrates policy instruments which have
through a series of policy and market instruments.
been applied to the Indian building sector.
Activities have been undertaken to provide a
policy framework for national energy conservation
activities, disseminate information and knowledge,
facilitate capacity building, pilot demonstration
projects and establish energy efficiency delivery
systems through public-private partnerships
(ABPS Infrastructure Private Limited, 2009).

32 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Table 3.6 Policy instruments

Policy instruments India

Control and Regulatory Instruments

Building codes Energy Conservation Act 2001 Energy Conservation building codes (ECBC)

Appliance standards National energy labelling programme for appliances

Mandatory demand-side management (DSM) Bachat Lamp Yojna (Lamp Savings Project) Provide CFLs at a reduced price)

Economic and market-based instruments

Six government buildings used ESCOs to carry out retrofits through performance
Energy performance contracting

Clean Development Mechanism projects -allowing industrialised countries to invest in

Kyoto Protocol flexible mechanisms
emission reduction projects in developing countries as an alternative

Financial Instruments

Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojna States to distribute free CFLs to below
Capital subsidies grants, loans
poverty line families.

Information and Voluntary Instruments

Voluntary certification and labelling TERI- GRIHA; LEED India

Public leadership programs Energy audits and retrofit of buildings Central and State government buildings

USAID ECO III Manuals and codes, case studies and software. School programme
Awareness raising, education, information
National campaign on Energy conservation 2005 Award scheme for government and
commercial buildings

Mandatory audit and energy management Designated industries to have energy managers, Certification and training of energy
requirement auditors

Detailed billing and disclosure programs Bills are based on individually metered buildings as a norm.

Gupta & Chandiwala, 2012.

Regulatory policy buildings will experience energy savings of 27-40%

over typical buildings consuming over 200kWh per
Energy Conservation Building code 2007 square meter (UNEP SBCI, 2010a). The ECBC
In 2007, the Energy Conservation Building Code aims to restrict energy consumption in certain
(ECBC) was launched by the Bureau of Energy areas through: appliance standards and labelling;
Efficiency (BEE), Government of India, for industrial energy benchmarks; monitoring energy
commercial buildings with peak demand in excess use in high energy-consumption units; and
of 500 kW or connected load in excess of 600 kVA. certifying and accrediting energy auditors and
It is expected that ECBC-complaint commercial energy managers.

Green building interventions for social housing 33

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

In addition, specified energy intensive industries finance demand side management programmes
(labelled as Designated Consumers) are required in all sectors by capturing future energy savings.
to follow the protocol for energy management (Energy Efficiency Financing Platform (EEFP))
through: appointing or designating energy
Developing fiscal instruments to promote
managers; energy audits conducted by accredited
energy efficiency namely Framework for Energy
energy auditors; implementing techno-
Efficient Economic Development (FEEED)
economically viable recommendations; complying
with energy norms; and submitting report on Outreach (education and awareness) (ABPS
steps taken. Enforcement of policy regulations and Infrastructure Private Limited, 2009):
regular inspection of properties will become more
Industrial units recognised for energy-efficiency
activities through high-profile awards program
Educational programs, workshops and certification National energy-conservation painting
for stakeholders from the construction industry competition draws participation from over
(designers, builders, technicians, suppliers and 400,000 children
labourers) are found to be in need of mandatory
status to create a skill base capable of sustaining/ Comparative Evaluation of Building Energy
supporting the required green growth. In response, and Environmental Rating Systems
extensive training of architects, engineers and The two primary domestic rating systems in India
consultants is also being undertaken by BEE across are the indigenous Green Rating for Integrated
India. Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) and LEED-India
system adapted from LEED-USA. The Bureau of
Voluntary instruments (Market side) Energy Efficiency has also developed its own rating
The National Action Plan on Climate Change system the Energy Performance Index (EPI) aimed
released in 2008, introduced four new initiatives at office buildings.
through the National Mission on Enhanced
Energy Efficiency (BEE, 2009): GRIHA Green Rating for Integrated Habitat
Assessment is Indias own system developedby the
Tradable Energy Savings Certificates, a market Energy Research Institute (TERI) and the Ministry
based mechanism to increase the uptake of of New and Renewable Energy, Government of
cost effective energy efficiency improvements India. It can be used to assess offices, retailspaces,
in energy-intensive industries and facilities. institutional buildings, hotels, hospital buildings,
(Perform Achieve and Trade) healthcare facilities, residences, and multi-family
Accelerating the shift to energy efficient high-rise buildings, and was first launched in
appliances through innovative measures to 2007. It is closely linked to the requirements of
make the products more affordable. (Market ECBC. GRIHA considers building life cycle in
Transformation for Energy Efficiency) four stages: Pre-construction, Building planning
and construction stage, Building responsiveness
Creation of mechanisms that would help to global and local environment and Building

34 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

operation and maintenance stage (Majumdar and SBCI, 2010a). Further research and development
Kumar, n.d.). GRIHA: into local design, construction and materials
suitable for local climates and resources will help
Addresses environmental concerns holistically bridge the existing knowledge and dissemination
Incorporates all relevant Indian codes and gap.
Applicable to residential, commercial and The perceived notion of high initial incremental
institutional buildings costs for green buildings, lack of financial
100 point system with a set of 32 criteria of incentives and the unorganised nature of the
which some are mandatory Indian construction industry are some of the
most critical barriers to the adoption of green
Minimum qualifying points is 50 and rating
building guidelines (Potbhare et. al., 2009). Lack
given as 1-5 star from 50-100 points
of reliable, free, public sources of information and
Addresses sustainable site planning, health of advice on energy savings, suitable technologies and
labour during construction, water consumption, sustainable building choices were also identified as
embodied energy (materials), energy use, significant barriers.
renewables, waste management, and occupant
health. Case study in energy efficient lighting
The Bachat Lamp Yojana (Lamp Savings
The second rating system, LEED-India has been
Project) was launched in 2009 as a demand side
developed by the IndianGreen Building Council.
management initiative. The project is a public-
Though adopted, LEED-India has been adapted
private partnership between the Government of
to suit India. Like the US rating system, it is a
India, private sector CFL suppliers and State level
voluntarystandard in India and awards four rating
Electricity Distribution Companies to provide
types of Certified, Silver, Gold andPlatinum based
compact fluorescent lights (CFL) to households at
on an assessment of six environmental categories
the price of incandescent bulbs. The difference in
(Gupta & Chandiwala, 2012).
cost is recovered through the carbon credits accrued
A strong policy mandate at the local level to enforce from lower energy use; managed and supported by
compliance with GRIHA or LEED rating systems the electricity distribution companies.
are found to be essential for progress. Priority
sectors where maximum reduction potential exists Brazil
must be targeted through policy and regulations.
Brazil has undergone substantial urbanization since
Additionally, financial incentives will provide
the nineteen forties, leading the country to attain
the much required push to move away from
an 80 per cent urbanization rate by 2000 (UN-
unsustainable building design and construction
Habitat, 2013b). Within this context, informal
practices, which are progressively entering into
submarkets and household self-help initiatives
practices of building in the cities of India (UNEP
are estimated to account for approximately three-

Green building interventions for social housing 35

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

quarters of all housing production between 1964 predominance (80%) of hydroelectric electricity
and 1986. The Brazilian housing deficit was generation, figure 3.3 shows that Brazil is one of
estimated to be the equivalent of 15 per cent of the the countries with the lowest CO2 emission per
housing stock in 2005. 81 per cent of this deficit is kWh of electricity generated, among other case
in cities (UN-Habitat, 2011d). study countries: India, South Africa, and Thailand
(MME, 2008). The remainder is divided into
Brazil is the worlds tenth largest energy consumer thermo-electric coal, natural gas, fuel oil, diesel
and third in the western hemisphere, behind the oil, nuclear power plants and plants using other
USA and Canada. Sustained economic growth materials as energy, such asfirewood and sugarcane
has increased total primary energy consumption (John, et al., 2010).
by close to a third over the last decade (EIA,
2012). Compared to the rest of the world, Brazil Policy instruments
has a relatively clean energy matrix: 47 per cent In Brazil, the energy shortages of 2001 and the
(including the use of fossil fuels for transportation) resulting 20% mandated reduction of energy
are considered renewable sources (primarily use as well as the ensuing energy crisis are often
hydroelectric and ethanol) whereas only 20 described among the most important drivers for
per cent of the worlds resources are considered the introduction or success of energy efficiency
renewable (Lamberts, 2008). Mostly due to the

Figure 3.3 CO2 emissions for generation of one kWh of electric energy


South Africa


United States






0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1

CO2 (kg/kWh)

WRI, 2009

36 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

programs such as the labelling programs and freezers) is used in Brazil (World Energy
implemented (UNEP SBCI, 2007). The key Council, 2008). Through the application of specific
players in energy efficiency measures are the policy measures such as labelling programmes and
parastatals, contractors and/or Energy Services economic incentives, sustainability is recognised in
Companies (ESCOs), financial institutions, the Brazils case as a win-win for families,government,
local community, the government and non-profit construction companies, materials industry,
groups. Promotion of energy efficiency measures is workers,financial system and society as a whole.
done by the two main parastatals, Electrobs and
Petrobs (Brazil Country Report, 2006). Examples Fiscal policy instruments
of government programmes undertaken by these Energy pricing Despite current Brazilian home
parastatals are PROCEL (Policy to combat waste in energy prices being among the highest in the world
the production and use of electrical energy) piloted there are indications of tariff increases, especially
by Electrobs, and COPET (conservation program in the electricity sector (Jnior, et al., 2003).
for oil and gas including measures to upgrade Persistent distortions in the structure of regulated
operating procedures, optimise distribution, electricity prices (Jnior, et al., 2003; Brazil
prevent leaks and spills etc.) piloted by Petrobs Country Report, 2006; and Poole and Guimares,
(Keivani, et al., 2010). 2003) have had resultant distortions in corporate
investment in energy rationalisation, making
The main green housing initiatives for social energy efficiency improvements a low priority
housing in Brazil are water heating, thermal (Poole and Guimares, 2003). Electricity tariffs
comfort projects, labelling, solar energy and the need to be based on detailed studies and include
selection of low-energy materials. Unfortunately, incentives for sustainable building projects.
however, financial institutions are reluctant to
fund energy efficiency projects. Even with cost-reflective (not subsidised) energy
prices, the higher first cost of energy efficient
Regulatory policy instruments technologies may still limit their use in developing
Labelling programmes and performance countries, especially if the technologies have to
standards are capable of reducing consumer energy be imported. In Brazil, to face this challenge,
demand by increasing awareness about energy there are public benefits charges (a form of
efficiency of different products and creating a energy tax whose revenues are typically invested
competitive environment where manufactures are partially or completely into energy efficiency).
compelled to improve their products. The ability This is a mechanism for raising funds from the
of producers to adapt to market demands often operation of the energy market, which can then
prevents consumer prices from going up in what is be directed into demand side management (DSM)
described as the learning effect. Experiences and and energy efficiency activities. All Brazilian
proven models from labelling programs in OECD distribution utilities are required to spend at least
countries have shaped the programs introduced one per cent of their revenues on energy efficiency
in developing countries. The European label for improvements, while at least one quarter of this
energy efficiency standards (e.g. for refrigerators amount (representing approximately $50 million

Green building interventions for social housing 37

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

per year) has to be spent on end-use efficiency Training courses, seminars, and conferences
projects (UNEP SBCI, 2007). to industrial and commercial consumers,
concession-holder staff and public organizations
Subsidies, Incentives and tax reduction - Financial to tackle energy waste
institutions are typically reluctant to fund energy
efficiency projects. Since the relative size of ESCOs PROCEL also helps utilities obtain low-interest
inhibits their funding capacity, government financing for major energy efficiency projects from
assistance will play an important role in stimulating a revolving loan fund within the electric sector
the energy efficiency market (UNEP SBCI, 2007). (WRI, 2013). These grants and the measures
pursued resulted in cumulative savings of 5.3 TWh
Subsidies are proven to be helpful in the residential (169 ktCO2) per year at a benefit-cost ratio of 12:1
sector in order to overcome the major barrier of from 1986 to 1998 (UNEP SBCI, 2009a).
high first costs for sustainability measures (e.g. to
help poor households to engage in energy efficiency Information awareness
investments). In Brazil, the National Electrical Policies which raise public awareness and reveal the
Energy Conservation Program (PROCEL) advantages of energy efficiency projects will play a
provides grants to state and local utilities, state key role in triggering the acceptance and growth of
agencies, private companies, universities and energy efficient refurbishment projects. The cost-
research institutions. PROCEL is in place to tackle effectiveness of information programmes exceeded
waste in the production and use of electrical energy. those of most other policy instruments, with
Measures include: negative costs of $66/tCO2. Public information
campaigns include programmes which provide
Consumption labelling to inform consumers, energy tips and counselling, energy consumption
influence purchasing decisions and encourage feedback and assessments, elementary school
manufacturers to make efficient products; programs, and mass media motivational campaigns.
Energy diagnostics/audits to assess energy use They are often more effective for the residential
and efficiency; than the commercial sector. Information programs
are especially important in developing countries,
Supporting research and development of
where a lack of information has been identified as
efficient technologies/products;
a major barrier for energy efficiency and renewable
Replacing incandescent lamps in public lighting energy investments (UNEP SBCI, 2009a). In order
with lamps that consume less energy; to be effective, public information campaigns have
to be adapted to the audience, deliver a credible and
Promoting efficient lighting and appliances in
understandable message, which influences audience
government and residential buildings;
beliefs, and finally create a social context that leads
Measures to reduce losses in the electrical to the desired outcome. There are also positive
system; experiences with public leadership programmes in
Actions to reduce electricity demand during Brazil (UNEP SBCI, 2007). These programmes
peak hours; serve to educate, influence and demonstrate

38 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

effective measures and results. Brazilian practice A pilot site in Cubatao in the state of Sao Paolo
(through the UNEP funded SUSHI project) has was used as a reference to develop market analysis,
also shown to some degree that life cycle analysis is to identify key elements in the project agenda,
regarded as an important tool for the selection of and to define pilot functions and alternative
energy efficient products/ materials. solutions. Considering the Brazilian energy
matrix, project location, client income and needs,
Multi-unit low-income housing and political and cultural characteristics, the local agenda
interest: The Centre of Projects for the Built was developed to define pilot functions of the
Environment facilitated a project of high-quality project. The conclusions led to the elaboration of
multi-story housing units for approximately 5000 recommendations for the uptake of sustainable
low-income families in So Paulo, Brazil between solutions with focus on rational use of water and
years 1990-2007. The project included people in demand management as well as thermal comfort
all stages of the building process, provided the and lighting, prevention of air conditioning use,
people with skills, enhanced womens positions and application of renewable energy strategies
and increased the knowledge of local governments including solar heating. The team also worked
about the importance of the social aspects in with the Brazilian Federal savings bank -Caixa- to
housing. develop the criteria for a sustainable housing label
Sustainability project teams worked with housing that can be applied to affordable housing projects
developers, construction companies, financial (UNEP, 2013). Similar projects in Brazil have led
institutions and final users to identify sustainable to an attitude change on the higher political levels.
solutions available on the market and applicable Public funds are now used to support housing for
to the local context, with the main objective low-income households and in 2001, The city
to identify, map out and characterise essential statute was approved by the parliament followed
technologies suitable for social housing units by a Slum Action Plan by the Secretariat for
in Brazil considering all relevant stakeholders. Housing and Urban Development (UN-Habitat,
The solutions were selected to improve the 2012a).
energy efficiency (including provision of thermal World Habitat - Building Restoration for
comfort) and water efficiency (water supply Social Housing Purposes: Derelict commercial
and consumption) of social housing units. To buildings in So Paulos city centre were recycled
technically back up these options, in cooperation and converted into low-income housing as part of
with the State of So Paulos Housing and Urban this project which reversed a ten-year tendency of
Development Agency (CDHU) and Brazilian exodus from the area and making use of its urban
Sustainable Construction Council (CBCS) and infrastructure. This is the very first project in the
with technical support from universities in Brazil, Brazilian national housing programme to involve a
the project team, developed an analysis of lessons change of use from commercial to residential. The
learned from previous experiences in integrating former air-conditioned and electrically lit systems
sustainable features (e.g. alternative design were replaced with natural ventilation and daylight
solutions, solar water heaters, and individual water provisions. The project was financially supported
meters) in homes.

Green building interventions for social housing 39

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

by the City government and the Federal Savings Association (NHA), there are few private developers
Bank and involved the residents in decision- in themarket. Prueksa Real Estate Plc., one of the
making, discussion, design process, planning and largest privately owned real estate development
management of the project. Further detail on this companies, is also a key player in this sector.
case study is provided in Section 5.
Policy instruments
Thailand Like many developing countries with successful
energy efficiency policies, Thailand started its
The Kingdom of Thailand in Southeast Asia is an sustainable development initiative with the
emerging economy and the worlds 20th-most- adoption of energy efficiency laws and strategies.
populous country, with around 64 million people. Thailand is considered a model for developing
Though Thailands unemployment rate of less countries due to the countries success in making
than 1% of labour force is among the lowest in energy efficiency a national priority through
the world (CIA, 2013), cities like Chang Mai have its energy conservation law and accompanying
one of the highest rent-to-income ratios at 25:1 measures. Subsidies, effective in breaking
(UN-Habitat, 2011c). In Thailand, the primary the barrier of financial limitations for energy
energy source is oil and natural gas, and the main efficiency, are one component of the successful
consumers are transport, industry and residential energy conservation law in Thailand, combined
and commercial sectors. 70% of the electricity with mandatory energy audits, awareness raising
is produced from natural gas. In Thailand the and training as well as demonstration projects.
residential and commercial sector consume 21% Specific ministries, commissions or departments
of primary energy and are the main consumers of dealing with awareness and information on
energy in Bangkok (DEDE Annual Report, 2005). energy efficiency as well as energy agencies play an
important role.
Owner occupied, detached housing constructed
of cement, wood or brick is the most prevalent Thailand also has a successful demand side
housing solution, with 80% of Thai dwellings being management (DSM) program combined with
owner occupied. Basic infrastructure isavailable to labelling. The energy efficient lighting (CFL)
more than 95% of households with widespread project and energy labelling programmes for
availability of electricity, water, roads, and septic refrigerators and air-conditioners have both
tanks. In rural areas, the Provincial Electricity been successful. Combination with other policy
Authority (PEA) provides households with instruments such as fiscal incentives and regulation
solarelectricity until their utilities are constructed enhances their effectiveness. The DSM office
(Sreshthaputra, 2010). Average household size is pursued market transformation by stimulating the
3.5 persons and the average room per household production and import of more efficient appliances
is 2.8 rooms per household (Sreshthaputra, 2010). and by encouraging consumers to buy these new
The Government Housing Bank (GHB) has played products. This initiation of market transformation
a leading role in the development ofsocial housing evoked the interest of foreign investors in the
in Thailand. In addition to National Housing energy efficiency market (UNEP SBCI, 2007).

40 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

As with other examples in this report (e.g. Brazil), supply and consumption) of social housing units.
labelling programmes introduced in developing Key stakeholder organisations included the NHA,
countries are based on the experience and proven the Community Organization Development
models of OECD countries. The Australian label Institute (CODI), the Bangkok Metropolitan
and model for energy efficiency standards (e.g. Administration (BMA), and the Ministry of
for refrigerators and freezers) is used in Thailand. Energy some of which run most of social housing
Voluntary certification and labelling programs for projects in Thailand.
appliances can be effective as well as cost-effective if
designed well and updated regularly. This example After literature review, field study, consultations
of what is proven to work in both developed and and analysis, two social housing projects of the
developing countries is helpful for implementing NHA in Bangkok were selected as the project
labelling programmes in countries that do not have sites to develop site-specific guidelines, including
them (World Energy Council, 2008). a cost-benefit analysis for selected sustainable
technologies. The identified alternatives were:
The Sustainable Social Housing Initiative passive design, improved glazing, wall and roof
(SUSHI) was initiated by the United Nations insulation as well as grey water recycling and reuse,
Environment Programme (UNEP) in May 2009 applying efficient fixtures, and rainwater harvesting.
to increase the use of sustainable (resource- Based on the findings, an action plan was proposed
efficient and energy-efficient) building and design including different activities to enhance the uptake
solutions in social housing programs in developing of alternative solutions in social housing sector in
countries. This project provides methods and Bangkok. The team prepared policy and technical
specific guidelines for developers to remove the assessments to be used by relevant stakeholders. It
barriers to the integration of sustainable solutions also conducted several training programs on design
in the design, construction and operation of social and construction of sustainable buildings with
housing units by testing such approaches in pilot local stakeholders and a consultation workshop
sites - in Bangkok, Thailand and in Sao Paulo, for decision makers. Furthermore, a database of
Brazil. available sustainable alternatives was prepared for
web-publication. Finally, to increase awareness
In Bangkok social housing sustainability of the role of sustainable buildings, the team
project teams worked with housing developers, developed an educational TV documentary and
construction companies, financial institutions video that will be distributed in universities across
and final users to identify sustainable solutions the country. At a global level, the project defines a
available on the market and applicable to the local generic methodology for replication of sustainable
context, with the main objective to identify, map building practices.
out and characterise essential technologies suitable
for social housing units considering all relevant
stakeholders. The solutions were selected to
improve the energy efficiency (including provision
of thermal comfort) and water efficiency (water

Green building interventions for social housing 41

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Sustainability was applied in a holistic manner to of green buildings in the social housing sector
provide (UNEP, 2013): in Thailand. Awareness raising activities have to
be carried out using separate media routes for
Quality of housing units (longer lifetime, less each target sector. The private sector would need
maintenance, less defects); appropriate incentives, especially during the
Quality of life (healthier environment, well- initial phases of the market development process.
being); Once the market develops, the private sector
could energise the market transformation process,
Market opportunities (local products promoted,
even with lesser government support. Efforts
more sustainable materials);
also need to be made to appeal to the Corporate
Reduced environmental impact and costs over Social Responsibility of the larger private sector
the life cycle; and corporations in this sector.
Urban planning and Social integration/ The SUSHI project in Bangkok, within its short
interaction (no clusters). time frame, aimed to work with partners,especially
In general, split incentives is a barrier hampering NHA, achieving the following, mainly within the
the uptake of green buildings. Project promoters ambit of the two identified pilot functions and
may not have any incentive to incorporate energy their alternative solutions (Sreshthaputra, 2010):
efficiency and water efficiencyin their projects, as
Assess the status of sustainable social housing in
they do not get paid back for their investments
as the benefits would goonly to the homeowners
or tenants. Home owners and tenants have the Initiate and institutionalise capacity building
same disincentive. This is not the case for NHA, programmes in key organisations
being a government organization. They share Increase awareness on green buildings among
the commitment of the Thai government to professionals and the public
promote energy and water efficiency for the sake
of national,regional and global benefits. Some of Provide essential tools and guidelines that
the national level benefits include the conservation could help professionals in developing and
of water and energy, easing of the pressure on implementing social housing projects
civic infrastructure, human health benefits Provide policy guidelines for NHA, partner
andavoidance/reduction of additional investments organisations and the government.
for infrastructure in the power and water sector.
Global and regional benefits include the reduction Create long term associations among key
of GHG emissions andthe conservation of shared organizations involved in the green building
water resources (Sreshthaputra, 2010). movement and the social housing sector in
It is clear that a wide range of short and long term
action is necessary to remove existingbarriers and
bring about a market transformation in favour

42 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Mexico Mexicos federal government National

Strategy on Climate Change
Mexico is a federal territory formed by 31 states
Identifies specific measures for mitigation, with
and a Federal District (Mexico City), and is
estimates of potential for emissions reductions
divided into 2,446 municipalities. There are close
to 200,000 populated locations in the country, of Proposes a suite of research objectives as a tool
which only 178 have 50,000 or more inhabitants; for laying out more precise mitigation targets
in contrast, there are close to 150,000 populations and outlines national requirements for capacity
with less than 100 inhabitants. Of the total building for adaptation to climate change.
population, only 23% live in rural areas, with the Enforcement of policy and regulations need
majority living in the southwest part of the country reinforcement at the state and local level.
clustering around Mexico City (UNEP SBCI,
2010b). Informal submarkets and household self- Mexico Citys Climate Action Program
help initiatives are estimated to account for more Large water conservation programs, public
than half of all housing production between 1980 transportation and waste management projects,
and 2003 (UN-Habitat, 2011d). According to and subsidies and incentives for residential and
CONEVAL (National Council on Evaluation commercial buildings.
of Social Development Policy) an estimated five
Tax exemptions for new and existing residential
million Mexicans lived in poverty in 2010. This
and commercial buildings that integrate energy
implies that around 46.2% of Mexicos total
and water conservation.
population lives in poverty, mainly in urban areas.
According to the 2006 national energy balance, There is a clear need to economically support low-
final energy consumption of the residential income families with energy subsidies. However
sector represented 16% of the total final energy this can send the wrong economic signal to the
consumption in Mexico. Liquid petroleum gas large proportion of the population who receive
(LPG) is the main energy source used in the but do not require these subsidies. It is therefore
residential sector at 37.8%, followed by firewood recommended that funding mechanisms must
at 35%. Electricity contributed with 22.7% of the be altered to reach only the neediest while other
final energy consumption, natural gas 4.2% and subsidies are re-directed towards promoting energy
kerosene 0.3% (UNEP SBCI, 2010b). efficiency. Awareness about the advantages of Green
Buildings must also be increased to maximise the
Policy instruments impact of subsidies.
There are no specific laws involving sustainable
development priorities for buildings in Mexico. Greening the building sector
There are, however, a number of policies and Energy efficiency standards for appliances
programs involving both the government and
Energy efficiency standards for lighting systems
the private sector that have direct and indirect
and building envelope of non-residential
impacts on the CO2 eqv. emissions that result from
residential and commercial buildings operations.

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Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

CFE and FIDEs DSM programs low-rate mortgage enables families to save more on
their utility bills than the increase in their monthly
The Instituto del Fondo Nacional de la Vivienda
mortgage payment. By 2012, over 900,000 Green
para los Trabajadores (Institute for the National
Mortgage credits have been granted, benefiting
Workers Housing Fund) (INFONAVIT)
over three million people.
Green mortgages program.
Comisin Nacional de Vivienda (CONAVI) The programme finances approximately 22
Low Income Housing subsidies. efficiency technologies that include:

Solar water heating standards Electricity: energy-saving lamps, roof and wall
thermal insulation, reflective coatings and
Environmental regulation that mandate the use
voltage optimisation.
of solar water heating systems in non-residential
buildings in Mexico City. Gas: gas and solar water heaters: with or without
vacuum pipes, backup, etc.
The building sector needs to become a government
priority through specific laws supporting and Water: ecological level toilets, ecological level
guiding sustainable development. The current scope sprinkler, water saving devices, isolating valves,
of DSM programs by CFE need to be widened flow control valves for water supply pipe.
beyond residential lighting and space cooling and
Health: purified water filters, purified water
Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS)
supply and waste separation containers.
should be introduced for all equipment in the
market. It is recognised through the example of Barriers to success
Mexico, that to increase public awareness about The lack of standards to regulate the quality and
green buildings and providing free accessible efficiency of the new eco-technology products has
information and advice on energy efficiency will be been a barrier for the project. In order to overcome
the key to the progress of sustainable development. this, INFONAVIT worked in partnership with
regulators and suppliers to establish appropriate
Case study in a market based solution: quality standards that achieve the necessary savings
Green Mortgage but which are still affordable.
Green Mortgage is a housing finance scheme
developed by INFONAVIT to encourage the use of The lack of education in the maintenance of
energy efficient systems and technologies for low- equipment amongst users is being addressed
income households. Families purchasing homes through educational materials such as videos and
with INFONAVIT are given an additional green comics.
mortgage (a credit on top of the actual mortgage
The request for certification of products had to be
credit) of up to US$1,250 to cover the cost of
done gradually in cases such as solar water heaters,
additional low carbon technologies. The initiative
where the laboratories responsible for testing did
aims to encourage developers to build homes with
not had the capacity to meet the demand for
energy-saving materials and technologies, and the
equipment to be certified (WHA, 2012).

44 Green building interventions for social housing

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Summary Incongruent economic interests - All

stakeholders must have interest in the success of
Overall work on green building is progressing in the green building or development.
developing countries. Limitations still exist as they
do in both developing and developed nations; Energy costs Reduced or unrealistic energy
these include financial and capacity constraints, costs do not provide an economic incentive for
awareness, first costs, etc., are common in a change. Again life-cycle-costing awareness will
majority of situations and are overcome through also accentuate the true discrepancy.
policy measures covered throughout Section 3. Awareness-raising: There is a serious lack of
From the countries analysed above, common awareness and of understanding about the impacts
barriers which need to be overcome more-or-less of the buildings sector and the costs and benefits of
in each country are summarised as, but not limited sustainable solutions and materials, and about the
to: relevance of sustainable approach in social-housing
projects (sustainability is perceived to be too
First cost/ high perceived personal/ business
expensive). There is a crucial need to raise awareness
risk associated with investment in the energy
of costs and benefits of sustainable solutions in
efficiency of buildings. Life-cycle cost benefit is
social housing units, as well as identifying the
often underestimated, not utilised.
readily-available and low-cost market solutions.
Lack of technical capacity in all stakeholder Awareness-raising must be conducted with all
areas (architecture, engineering, building stakeholder groups, to understand which solutions
management, building function, occupants might be appropriate to the budget, timing, site,
etc.). Sector training is essential. and cultural characteristics of the project.
Limited interaction and co-ordination between Technical training: Technical capacities are
stakeholders across the various life cycle stages often missing to build sustainable units, among
of a building result in a lack of incentive for a construction companies, architec ts, and workers
life-cycle approach to managing energy use in in the buildings sector. Thus, there is a need for
buildings. technical training of public officers and market
Lack of user/ occupant education - in some actors to ensure understanding and capacity to
cases users need to be aware of certain benefits implement sustainable technologies, as well as
to maximise those benefits. maintain these over the life of the building.

Tendency to develop standard regional and Building policy support: Costs and benefits of
national solutions without localised focus sustainable housing have to be clearly demonstrated
for every project (down to the site level) there and tested to make the case for policy support of
is little integration of the climate, social and sustainable social housing.
environmental considerations and the energy
consumption, thermal comfort, water use, and
health of the occupants.

Green building interventions for social housing 45

Chapter 03: Green building policy measures for greening social housing

Financing opportunities: Some sustainable Users, inhabitants, associations (project

solutions result in a slight increase in the units implementation);
construction cost. Financing opportunities and
Research centres and NGOs (project
mechanisms to redistribute the costs and savings
across the life-cycle of the building must be
developed at local/national level to quantify the Material producers (supply of building
cost savings and other benefits associated with materials).
sustainable building approaches. Available information on successful examples:
Defining stakeholders and their involvement Policy makers and financing institutions need
and cooperation in sustainable approach: support in the form of examples and case studies
Projects often involve several different stakeholders and information from other constituencies to
at local and national level. Integrating sustainable be able to initiate a review of relevant policies
solutions requires collaborative commitment of and to design supporting financing tools for
stakeholders to achieve the final objective, and sustainable social housing. Compilation of
understanding of different perceptions, needs and previous experiences, as well as measurement
priorities. Stakeholders (identified through the and monitoring of the impacts in case studies is
SUSHI project, 2011) can include: crucial to ensure understanding and replication of
sustainable alternatives.
National, state and municipal governments
(policy development); Considering cultural and emotional factors:
For a sustainable approach to be successful, it
Financing institutions (public bank, private is important to have a clear idea about habits,
banks, microcredit institutions); lifestyles and preferences of a society so as to define
Public housing development agencies applicable solutions and realistic responses to
(procurers for social housing projects); actual needs.

Private housing and real-estate developers Continuity and replication: A sustainable

(project developers); approach should be a continuous and growing
process to be able to fulfil all essential objectives;
Construction companies, architects, designers
benefiting from previous success (UNEP, 2013).
(project implementation);

46 Green building interventions for social housing

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Green building interventions for social housing 47


Strategies for greening Green measures for new
social housing: new build social housing
Design of green housing, to fulfil environmentally
and refurbishment sustainable objectives, requires careful socio-
technical consideration of site, building form,
material selection, and technical services selection.
Energy demand, for example, is a dynamic three-
way interaction between climate, people and
buildings (figure 4.1).

In an example mistake often made, positioning

a house in the wrong orientation, can lead to
inappropriate solar access, e.g. not enough
solar access in the cold season and/or too much
afternoon solar radiation in the hot season, can
impact comfort, in turn leading to more space
conditioning energy use through heating or cooling
than would have been necessary. The following
three sub-sections detail design principles that can
be implemented to minimise energy use, to collect
renewable energy and to sustainably manage water
and waste.
C h a p t e r 0 4 : S t r at e g i e s f o r g r e e n i n g s o c i a l h o u s i n g

Figure 4.1 Dynamic three-way interaction between climate, people and buildings
dictates our energy needs in buildings


Culture and People control

preferences are buildings to suit
partly determined themselves in
by climate Energy use is climatic context
influenced by climatic,
social, economic and
cultural context

Building ameliorates climate to suit
occupants within cultural norms

Nicol et al., 2012

Bioclimatic (passive) building energy use and carbon emissions for the in-use life
design principles of the building. Steps taken during passive design
and implementation will lock the building into a
Passive, energy efficiency materials and methods life of efficiency or inefficiency. The fundamental
are essential as first considerations for the principles of passive design can be applied
construction of green social housing (UN-Habitat, differently to various climate zones, building types,
2012a). A significant portion of energy use in construction methods and materials. Passive design
the conventional modern house is used to create is adaptable, has a low lifecycle cost and a long life.
a thermally comfortable, functional environment
for the occupants. Houses that are passively Passive building principles are applied through
designed take advantage of natural climate, design of the site configuration, building
material properties and the basic laws of physics orientation, building configuration, and the
to maintain thermal comfort. Passive design can be materiality of the building envelope.
used to improve comfort by passively heating or
cooling and providing daylight. This is the first and Site configuration and layout: Closely tied
possibly most important step in reducing building with orientation and building configuration,
placement of the building on or in the site can

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impact the operation of the building. Other building orientation can take advantage of
elements such as trees and other buildings can cooling breezes, seasonally avoid hot/cold
provide shade when it is needed or adversely winds, and also consider the impact of local
block the sun when it is needed. Placement of geographic features (e.g. slopes, neighbouring
the building in the site, i.e., using the earth as buildings, trees etc.) on climatic conditions
thermal mass can be beneficial in regulating (e.g. prevailing winds). This method, along
temperature swings throughout a day. This with thermal mass, is well demonstrated in the
method is used in the New Generation of Passive Solar Housing in the Cold Desert of the
Yaodong Cave Dwellings case study, Section Indian Himalayas case study, Section 5.2.10.
Building configuration and layout: East and
Building orientation: The orientation of the west facing facades should be minimised to
building on the site must consider elements reduce the exposure to the sun in the morning
already on the site and the equator. For and evening; facades facing these orientations are
passive solar design the building must have the difficult to shade. Depending on the location,
appropriate orientation of openings and spaces housing clusters can be beneficial or detrimental
to achieve maximum light gain with minimal for passive efficiency, e.g. in India, the Juanapur
heat gain. Depending on the location in most slum resettlement in New Delhi (figure 4.2)
cases, buildings benefit from predominately used a cluster design to provide shading and
equator facing glazing or aperture oriented +/- mass but allowed for the prevailing wind to
15 degrees from equator. Optimal orientation flow through the cluster to provide cooling to
allows for simpler shading options. In addition, the units (Anangpur Building Centre, 2013).

Figure 4.2 the Juanapur slum resettlement, New Delhi


Anangpur Building Centre, 2013

50 Green building interventions for social housing

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Building envelope: The building envelope is Insulation is important for reducing the
a collective term for the roof, walls, windows, amount of heat flow into or out of a
doors, and the ground floor. The envelope acts building. The required insulation levels in
as a climate screen by controlling the heat gain each element of the envelope for a home will
in the hot season and heat loss in the cool season. vary depending on location.
Therefore, designing the thermal properties of
Thermal mass is currently sufficiently
the building envelop requires consideration or
provided in housing where concrete and
local seasonal temperature, humidity and rainfall
earth blocks are used and where a majority of
variation. The design of the envelope can have a
flooring is compacted earth or compact earth
large impact on the amount of energy required
with sand and cement screed on top. It may
to create a comfortable internal environment.
be best to continue these practices as long
The building envelope is augmented through
as the embodied energy and the cost of the
the use of colours, insulation, thermal mass, and
methods can be minimised (UN-Habitat,
shading elements.
Lightly coloured exterior rendering on
Shading of the building and outdoor spaces
walls and light materials on the roof assist
reduces summer temperatures by blocking
in reflecting solar radiation and minimise
direct solar radiation from being absorbed
the conduction of solar gain into the house.
onto a particular surface and entering the
This method is often employed in new highly
building through conduction of the materials.
efficient dwellings such as Passivhaus designs
Radiant heat from the sun passes through
because the higher efficiency of the homes retain
glass and is absorbed by building elements
any heat that is gained through the fabric for
and furnishings, which then re-radiate it.
longer periods. This method can be seen in the
Re-radiated heat has a different wavelength
Low energy and passive housing in Ljubljana
and cannot pass back out through the glass
case study, Section 5.2.3 and Lisnahull Terrace,
as easily. In most climates, trapping radiant
Dungannon case study, Section 5.2.9.
heat is desirable for winter heating but must
Green or soil roofs have historically been be avoided in summer. Flexible shading can
vernacular expressions in hot and cold be used to permit or restrict entry of sunlight
climates for thermal insulation. As an depending upon the thermal requirement.
example, sod has been a traditional way to Shading reduces thermal discomfort due
keep buildings cool in Tanzania. Green roofs to solar gain and results in less or no need
also assist in microclimatic cooling, reducing for mechanical cooling. Optimal seasonal
the urban heat island effect, rainwater runoff shading can be provided through roof
reduction and increase biodiversity. Green overhangs, trees, and window fixtures.
roofs generally have higher lifespans than
conventional roofs due to the protective
covering of the sod from the elements.

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Low impact materials and construction either manual or pneumatic and can easily be
techniques done through for community participation.
Construction must be done in dry weather
There are a number of factors which classify (Fielding et al., 2012).
building materials as sustainable. Before and
during construction, materials are deemed It is important to protect earth buildings from
environmentally sustainable when the embodied water (e.g. standing water and rainfall). To
energy is lower than customary materials. protect rammed earth and adobe buildings
Embodied energy is the total energy used to create from water the following steps can be taken:
a building product including all the processes Chemical additive (e.g. mortar-proof ) to
involved in harvesting, production, transportation inhibit water absorption in render due
and construction. It can represent a significant to cost additive can be limited to external
proportion of the total energy used during the splash zones of walls
lifecycle of a home. Such measures as using local
materials, minimal processing, reusing existing Requires sufficient roof overhang and
structures and materials and using renewable stone or concrete foundation to raise earth
materials (which are quickly and easily replaced) construction above ground
are ways to ensure that embodied energy is low in Damp-proof course should be considered to
a building. protect the earth wall from moisture rise

Environmental sustainability is not simply a Stabilising agents (e.g. cement) can be used
function of energy use in the life of a building but have the drawback of increasing the
but also considers the health of the occupants embodied energy of the construction
and those involved in the construction and Stabilised soil blocks and interlocking
deconstruction processes. Furthermore, to stabilised soil blocks: There are many options
maximise the environmental benefit of the when it comes to earth or soil blocks. The
material the construction techniques must be used amount of stabiliser (content of cement), type
to achieve the passive design strategies outlined in of stabiliser, method of production, form of
Section 4.1.1. the blocks, and use of waterproofing agents
can all vary in the production of soil blocks.
Materials and methods for structure and It is possible to produce between 250-350
envelope of the building SSBs in a day using a simple block press. SSBs
Rammed earth construction: For the depending on method and content can be 70
construction of walls, earth-based technologies per cent less energy intensive than fired bricks
offer ideal solutions for long-term sustainable and 20-40 per cent less expensive. There is also
construction programmes in dry climates. the environmental savings with no fire wood
To create a rammed earth wall, formwork is use (Montgomery, 2002; Minke, 2006; UN-
assembled and layers of earth are compacted Habitat, 2012a).
within the forms. Compacting of the earth is

52 Green building interventions for social housing

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Advantages Disadvantages
Availability Durability problems in wet conditions

Durability Low flexibility for future change

Versatility/ easy workability Maintenance

Low-cost/ affordability Socio-cultural perception (poverty)

Community involvement level high Structural limitations

Fire resistance Water absorption

Excellent control of indoor moisture Low resistance to abrasion and impacts

Low embodied energy/ environmental impact Specialist skills needed for plastering

High thermal capacity Slow construction process

Low thermal conductivity Quality control important

Good sound insulation

No/ low cement required

Highly recyclable (depends on whether stabiliser is used)

Source: Hadjri et al., 2007; Fielding et al., 2012.

Overall positive qualities are local material and construction project. Disadvantages are that
production capability, flexible sizing, labour SSBs cannot be used to construct high rise
demand can create jobs, teaches brick laying buildings, in wet conditions or underwater, and
skills, strong and stable construction method, initial first cost of block press (Fielding et al.,
long life, sufficient for earthquake zones, and 2012; UN-Habitat, 2012a).
rain and insect resistance. Interlocking blocks
Mechanised production such as with
require no cement mortar and can be used in
Hydraform produces blocks quickly and
building easily with unskilled labour force.
operation takes only one to two days for training.
Typical SSBs require mortar but can be lime-
This method is useful for large scale projects
based or consist of minimal cement. Non-
and has been performed in a large number of
interlocking blocks alternatively offer more
African countries. Drawbacks of mechanised
flexibility in design. Finally, when load-bearing
production include high initial capital input
walls are constructed with SSBs and mortar
and machinery fuel requirements. A small
reinforced concrete columns are rendered
level of training is also required (Fielding et al.,
obsolete in low seismic risk areas, thereby
reducing the embodied energy of the overall

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Straw-bale construction: Straw is a renewable wire/twine at the maximum compression

resource that is readily available in many parts strength of a baling machine if possible. Bales
of the world. Straw bales are an inexpensive should be laid on edges and not flat for better
alternative to other building materials and can R-value. The moisture content of the straw bales
be used to build homes in the way bricks are should be kept under 15 per cent with the help
used (Tessema et al., 2009). The straw bale can of an adequate foundation, long roof overhangs,
be used as a structural construction material, a directing guttering away from the walls, by
thermal insulator (very good insulative abilities, choosing appropriate rendering materials,
reduces thermal bridging) or for acoustic and using high foundations (DCCEE, 2011).
absorption. Straw bales can be used as an infill Straw bale wall construction can be made water
in a wooden structure or load bearing without proof or resistant with parge coat or Grancrete
any skeletal structure. If used as bricks they (sprayable concrete mix) (UN-Habitat, 2008).
need to be pre-compressed before plastering
to avoid later compression by the roof. Straw
bales can be tied together and plastered after The design of other building elements should
trimming. Load bearing straw-bale walls can be be made according to the dimension of the
built up to three stories; infill straw bale walls bales.
have no limitation of height as long as they are
The bales should be kept dry during the
adequately braced.
whole building process and load bearing
Straw bale construction provides the most straw-bale construction suits drier climates.
cost effective thermal insulation and sound
Straw-bales need to be made before using
insulation available. Straw bales are tightly
them in the construction; they need to
packed and covered with a skin of cement
be uniform in size and cannot be adjusted
render providing dense walls with a nearly
airless environment creating a highly fire
resistant construction. Conclusive evidence of Most buildings require a frame of timber or
its fire resisting performance can be found in steel to comply with many building codes
laboratory fire tests conducted at the Richmond (DCCEE, 2011).
Field Station in 1997 by students at University
Cob construction: Cob is a form of unfired
of California Berkeley. These rated a straw-
clay brick. Cob combines straw and earth which
bale wall at two hours. Straw bale homes also
makes it an optimal material for hot and dry
survived Californian bush fires that destroyed
climate as it has good insulative characteristics
conventional structures.
(straw) and a thermal mass (earth). It can
Straw-bales are easy to use without highly be used in wet climate if covered with roof
developed skills or machinery. However, bales overhangs, protected with plaster and raised
of straw should be uniform in size being from the ground with an adequate foundation
approximately twice as long as wide; and as (DCCEE, 2011).
densely compacted as possible with tight strings/

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For extra insulation, increase the amount of mix on their own tarp. They can pair up for the
straw or substitute perlite, vermiculite, or initial stages of mixing by rocking the tarp back
pumice for sand. Pumice cob is difficult to mix and forth between them, then complete the
and hazardous to the skin because of all the tiny, stomping, rolling, and straw-adding stages on
glassy fragments. Sawdust or wood chips can their own (Evans, et al., 2002).
also be used to increase insulation but reduce
strength and slow the drying. Alternatively, for
extra hardness or thermal mass, increase the Construction is usually time consuming and
amount of sand, and reduce the proportion labour intensive.
of straw. To improve thermal performance,
Walls should be protected from rain during
build exterior walls with an inner layer of high-
the construction with a temporary roof.
density, sandy cob with better-insulating, straw-
It takes 6-9 months for thick walls to dry
rich cob on the outside of the wall (Evans, et al.,
completely and they will shrink in the
process. After this doors and windows can be
Cob has good loadbearing ability; is added (DCCEE, 2011).
inexpensive; availability on site; need for very
As with other earth construction methods
few tools and no form work; creates strong and
there may be a social stigma that will need
durable walls; fire proof; and flexible. Cob is a
to be resolved.
low-impact, energy efficient building material
that can create interiors that are warm in Insulation materials: Agricultural waste or
winter and cool in summer (thermal mass). It is production such as straw and sheeps wool can
strong in compression, very durable and it can be used as insulation to increase the thermal
be moulded to different shapes. Some skill is resistance of the envelope of a building. Other
required as with any soil construction method, natural materials used for insulation include:
there should be earth quality control of strength flax, cotton (including recycled clothing), wood
and the connections between ingredients in and hemp fibres (UN-Habitat, 2008).
the mix before using soil in cob construction
Cement replacements for concrete: Portland
(DCCEE, 2011).
cement, generally used to make concrete is
A manual cob mixing method has been highly energy intensive to produce. There
developed using a tarp (or square piece of are alternatives which can be sourced locally
durable, slick, and water-resistant material) depending on location. As an example, rice
as opposed to mixing with shovels on a level husk ash has been used in pilot projects in
platform made of tamped earth, concrete, or Columbia, Thailand and India. Magnesium
plywood. The tarp method is quicker, easier on oxide and magnesium chloride cements require
the lower back, and requires fewer tools. The only 20-40 per cent of the energy required to
work can be done mostly on an individual basis. produce Portland cement and is more readily
The most efficient way for a group of people to recyclable (UN-Habitat, 2008).
mix cob is for each person to have their own

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Nubian Vaults (Voute Nubienne): Nubian Low energy building services

vaults are earth roofs which do not require Improved efficiency cooking stoves:
framing due to the vaulted structure and provide Inefficient stoves can cause indoor air pollution
thermally massive environments (regulating the which is harmful to the health of the occupants.
internal temperature). The method has been Aside from reducing or eliminating the indoor
perfected in some sub-Saharan countries, e.g. pollution, high efficiency cooking stoves reduce
Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and Togo and is the amount of wood needed for cooking
able to withstand short heavy rainy seasons and heating therein reducing deforestation,
by using plastic waterproof sheeting to repel leading to decreased soil erosion, and water
penetrating rainwater (Tessema et al., 2009). resource protection A case study in Nigeria is
Like other earth building methods, though outlined in UN-Habitat (2012a): Nigerian
culturally relevant, the Nubian vaults may find stove replacement programme lead by Nigerian
opposition in being associated with poverty and Developmental Association for Renewable
under development and even may find difficulty Energies and German NGOs, Atmosfair
being acceptable for planning permission in gGmbH and Lernen-Helfen-Leben. The
some towns and cities (Hadjri et al., 2007). benefits of this programme were that the new
The extent of the rainy season in particular stoves saved up to 80% fuel wood and in so
areas may also be a cause for concern with the doing, reduced deforestation. Indoor cooking,
construction method. particularly with inefficient equipment can also
lead to high internal heat gain in hot climates
Eco-shake roofing materials: A replacement
contributing to thermal discomfort during the
for common wood shingles, eco-shake is 100%
warmer seasons. To reduce summertime heat
recycled material, reinforced vinyl and cellulose
in houses a design alternative can be to create
fibre. The eco-shake outperforms wood in
outdoor cooking areas so that the heat may
extreme weather conditions, is suitable for all
escape to the atmosphere rather than being
climates, is UV protected, lightweight and is
trapped in the house.
wind, fire and impact resistant (UN-Habitat,
2008). Energy efficient light bulbs: An energy
efficiency programme in India called Bachat
Windows: Windows must be operable for
Lamp Yojana (Lamp Savings Project) is led by
ventilation. All openings need to be shaded from
private-sector companies to provide compact
summer sunlight with roof overhang, shutters,
fluorescent lights (CFL) to households at the
awning, etc. Houses in some areas require
price of incandescent bulbs. The difference in
security bars on windows and insect screens.
cost is recovered through the carbon credits
Glass for windows can often require import,
accrued from lower energy use; managed
however; materials from the construction
and supported by the electricity distribution
industry can often be reused (and recycled),
companies (ABPS Infrastructure Private
including exterior glass (UN-Habitat, 2012a;
Limited, 2009).
UN-Habitat, 2012c)

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All effort should be made to maximise the to a range of temperatures can impact the way
efficiency of lighting. It is highly recommended future generations use energy. Air-conditioning
that light emitting diodes (LEDs) are used over should be avoided for developments to remain
CFLs and incandescent bulbs. LEDs are the sustainable and to avoid applying strain on the
most efficient and long lasting. Though CFLs are electrical supply.
significantly more efficient than incandescent
The following are options for reducing thermal
bulbs, CFLs contain mercury, must be disposed
discomfort in hot conditions:
of properly and care must be taken to not
break CFL bulbs. All elements of a CFL bulb Thermal Chimney: Via convection, thermal
can be recycled; it is highly recommended that chimneys allow cooler air in to the house while
the arrangement for recycling of CFLs is in pushing warmer air out. Thermal chimneys can
place. Depending on electricity sources, CFLs be made of a black, hollow thermally massive
actually reduce the amount of mercury released chimney like form with an opening at the top
to the environment. Coal burning power plants for hot air to exhaust. Increasing the temperature
are responsible for about half of the mercury at the top with direct sunlight increases the up-
released into the environment from man-made draught. Inlet openings are smaller than exhaust
sources (USEPA, 2013). outlets and are placed at low to medium height
Cooling: Builders are able to create cooler in a room. When the hot air of the interior
environments in homes by following passive rises, it escapes through the exterior exhaust
cooling measures outlined previously, outlet. As this happens, an updraft pulls cool
particularly shading from incident solar air in through the inlets. Ideally for maximum
radiation and using highly reflective surfaces airflow, interior doors are also left open. Earth
on walls and roofs. It is essential that passive pipes can also be used to benefit from removing
measures are implemented to the fullest heat through the chimney effect (Trimarchi, M,
before more complicated means of cooling 2013).
are explored. Thermal mass in the homes will Fans: Fans are inexpensive to run and have the
also help relieve the heat of the day. Some least greenhouse impact, while air conditioners
discomfort could be experienced in locations are expensive to run and produce more
where heat and humidity are not easily tackled greenhouse gas. Fans are overall inexpensive
with shading. However as described in Section options for relief of thermal discomfort. They
2, since the core concept of thermal comfort circulate air but do not reduce temperature or
is more of a state of mind (reflecting different humidity.
cultural, class and geographical conditions)
Solar thermal cooling technology is a
than a technical certainty, the adoption of
technological alternative to conventional air-
western benchmarks for comfort (achieved by
conditioning. Solar thermal cooling uses solar
active cooling technology) should be vigorously
thermal systems integrated with air conditioners
discouraged. Improving awareness about good
or heat pumps to provided mechanical cooling.
behavioural practices and natural ability to adapt

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The technology is however expensive and installation) is higher than conventional

requires a high level of expertise. systems. There are two types of solar water
heating collectors, flat plate collectors and
Heat pumps (see below)
evacuated tube collectors. In constantly sunny
Heating: The necessity for heating in many climates flat plate collectors are more efficient
locations can and should be minimised through whereas in more cloudy conditions their energy
the use of passive measures, e.g. solar gain, output drops off rapidly in comparison with
thermal mass and insulation. If thermal efficiency evacuated tube collectors (GreenSpec, 2013).
of the building envelope and thermal mass are
Photovoltaic panels: PV systems can be
efficiently integrated and maximised this may
designed for a variety of applications and
reduce or eliminate thermal discomfort. The
operational requirements, and can be used
following option is an alternative to standard
for either centralised or distributed power
boilers or electric heating.
generation. PV systems have no moving
Ground / water source heat pump: Heat parts, are modular, easily expandable and
pumps use existing heat sources to offset even transportable in some cases. Energy
the temperature at which the heat conveyor, independence and environmental compatibility
e.g. water, must be heated. Heat pumps can are two attractive features of PV systems. In
also be reversed for cooling purposes. In general, PV systems that are well designed and
the example of a ground source heat pump properly installed require minimal maintenance
(GSHP) the underground temperature can and have long service lifetimes.
be used to offset the heating or cooling
Grid Connected The solar system is
demand. Heat pumps use electricity but
connected to the local electricity network
far less than conventional electrical heating
allowing any excess solar electricity produced
methods. Heat pumps require a high level of
to be sold to the utility. Electricity is taken
expertise and may require local technicians
back from the network outside daylight hours.
for maintenance and upgrades throughout
An inverter is used to convert the DC power
the life of the system. The most efficient use
produced by the solar system to AC power
of the heat in a heat pump system is through
needed to run normal electrical equipment.
radiation heating in the home, e.g., wall
For this arrangement to be successful there
radiators, under floor heating. Air source
would need to be compensation (feed-in
heat pumps are also available but can be
tariff) for the energy fed into the grid for the
slightly less efficient.
homeowner from the utility company. The
Integration of renewable systems feed-in tariff is an effective way to encourage
Solar water heating systems: Solar water uptake of these systems and to stimulate
heating systems use energy from the sun to local industrial development and sales of PV
heat water at no in-use costs. The upfront technology.
cost, however, of solar water heater (including

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Off-grid - Completely independent of the Drainage, water supply and sanitation

grid, the solar system is directly connected
Serious existing problems as a result of rapid
to a battery which stores the electricity
urbanisation will need to be addressed and resolved
generated and acts as the main power supply.
in new housing. These issues include solid waste
An inverter can be used to provide AC
management, sufficient storm water drainage,
power, enabling the use of normal appliances
water supply, sanitation, and in some locations
without mains electricity (GreenSpec, 2013).
mosquito control (UN-Habitat and UNEP, 2009).
There are two main types of PV technology,
these are thin film (amorphous) and crystalline All paved or non-paved areas should be sloped
(mono or poly). Thin film cells are the least (7mm recommended) away from the house. This
efficient but have the advantage of easier ensures that the water does not flow into the house
installation and assembly, low cost of substrates or pool around and saturate the ground around
or building materials, ease of production and the foundation. Drain tiles around foundations
suitability to large applications over crystalline provide further assurance that water does not
panels. Though the efficiency of thin film saturate the ground around the foundation. These
modules is lower than that of crystalline drainage conduits need to lead water away from the
modules, the modules are typically priced home and guide it toward designated storm water
accordingly. Thin film modules have various management areas. Storm water needs to be guided
(often flexible) coating and mounting systems. and given a place to go. Storm water management
Some are less susceptible to damage from hail areas such as retention ponds protect developments
and other impacts than those covered in glass and surrounding areas from flooding. Retention
(DCCEE, 2011). areas are recommended over storm water detention
(only dry out under drought conditions) areas.
Limitations: like the solar hot water system, PV Retention areas are designed to hold storm water
systems have high upfront costs and require a until water naturally leaves via percolation and
high level of expertise to install and manage. Both evapotranspiration. Water in retention area must
systems also require a large selection of imported dissipate within 72 hours so that more water can
materials (e.g. glass, mounting frames, and cells). be accommodated. It is easier to achieve mosquito
Shading is critical. Minor shading can result in abatement in retention areas as opposed to
significant loss of energy. This is because the cell detention areas (OMeara, 2011). The following
with the lowest illumination determines the building sustainable practices, sustainable urban
operating current of the series string in which it is drainage systems, rainwater harvesting and green
connected. These effects must still be considered, roofs, will assist in reducing the storm water runoff
preferably in the first stages of building design. that must be managed in retention areas.
Dust and soiling may also cause a power reduction
(GreenSpec, 2013).

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Figure 4.3 permeable paving

Crystal Clear, 2013

Sustainable urban drainage systems The avoidance of flooding or pooling of water

Sustainable (urban) drainage systems or SUDS is reduces the risk of mosquito breeding and damage
an alternative to hard impermeable paving with caused by water ingress into the home. Reducing
the capacity to decrease the amount and velocity of or disallowing rainwater from passing over hard
surface runoff, reducing the storm water quantity impermeable surfaces reduces the amount of
that can lead to flooding, pooling, or the water pollutants that are picked up by the water. SUDS
that enters retention areas or sewage (GreenSpec, can either be in the form of permeable paving
2013). stones (figure 4.3) or structural sod. Lightly
coloured paving stones or green cover can also help
reduce the urban heat island effect.

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Rainwater harvesting Grey water recycling

Rainwater harvesting is another method used to A grey water recycling system recycles bath and
reduce or eliminate water runoff from a building. shower water for toilet flushing. Grey water recycling
Depending on size, rainwater harvesting systems can reduce water use by a third (depending on
can offset water restriction during times of water use habits) and most importantly minimises
drought. Rainwater harvesting vessels can range the amount of potable water in the wastewater
from simple water butts for garden watering to system (GreenSpec, 2013).
large underground tanks for development or
neighbourhood scale use. The collected water can Composting toilets
be used to water gardens or serve indoor uses such A composting toilet is a self-contained unit
as for WCs and washing machines. Storage tanks that treats waste using aerobic decomposition
above or below ground are made from plastics, (composting). A composting toilet completely
glass reinforced plastics or concrete. Underground removes a significant amount of potable water
storage tanks have higher installation costs but waste from the home. Some carbon based material
reduce above ground space lost and can last twice or bulking agent, such as dry leaves or softwood
as long (specifically the plastics). External pumps shavings, should be regularly added to the container,
for larger systems (not located within the tank) preferably daily or with each use. This provides the
are recommended as they are easier to service and proper carbon-nitrogen mix, helps aerate the pile
can last longer than those located within the tank. and prevents compacting. A composting toilet
Rainwater harvesting or recycling systems can that is working well does not smell. Offensive
be dependent on periodic inspection, cleaning, odours usually indicate that something is wrong.
servicing and component replacement. These Often adding bulking agent in greater quantities
limitations can also incur costs however; much can or more regularly will remove the smell. Regular
be done independently (GreenSpec, 2013). care is required. The output compost is usable for
fruit trees and bushes around the garden (DCCEE,
The Tlholego Ecovillage in South Africa has 2011; GreenSpec, 2013).
demonstrated the ability to catch water for
drinking, irrigation and other household uses. Green roofs
The first level of catchment takes place on the Green or soil roofs have been vernacular expressions
rooftop through a gutter system which flows in hot and cold climates for thermal insulation.
into a storage tank for drinking water and As an example, sod has been a traditional way to
irrigation. During the rainy season, greater keep buildings cool in Tanzania. Green roofs also
quantities of water is captured and stored assist in microclimatic cooling, reducing the urban
underground in tanks. This water is also used heat island effect, rainwater runoff reduction and
for irrigation during the dry season. Greywater is increase biodiversity. Green roofs generally have
also collected from bathrooms and kitchens for higher lifespans than conventional roofs due to the
irrigation. The ecovillage also uses composting protective covering of the sod from the elements.
toilets for fertiliser (Tessema et al., 2009).

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Figure 4.4 Variation in vegetation depending on soil slope

Toyo Greenland, 2009

Figure 4.4 shows that greenery can be used to cover Construction of a green roof: the roof structure is
all slopes from roofs to walls. Green roofs require covered with a membrane surface that is covered
adequate structural support and would require a with water proof insulation, which are then
moderate level of expertise to ensure a long lasting covered with plastic sheeting (root barrier). To
roof. There are generally two types of green roofs: build up the substrate, pea gravel (drainage layer
that directs water from the roof ), a filter fabric
Extensive Extensive has a build-up height keeping material from the drainage layer and
of 50-150mm, light weight and easy to install. an optional water retention fabric on which the
Extensive roofs require no irrigation and are mulch and soil base and vegetation layer is placed
low maintenance. Planting is generally moss, (UN-Habitat, 2012a).
sedum, herbs and grasses.
Intensive - Intensive roofs have a build-up EcoHouse retrofit case study in
height of 150mm-1500mm. These roofs require Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
substantial structural support, irrigation, A case study EcoHouse in Rio aimed to create
maintenance. Uses include natural gardens, an environmentally friendly house as an example
growing food, and recreational space. Intensive for other modest EcoHouses in hot and humid
roofs are generally flat (GreenSpec, 2013). climates. The houses many characteristics featured
rainwater harvesting, passive cooling and a green

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Rainwater harvesting: rain water is collected Most environmental retrofits are concerned with
from the roof and patio, is filtered and then (as further detailed in Section 4.1):
pumped to a cistern on the green roof. The
water is then distributed by gravity to toilets Building fabric upgrade: to reduce energy
and the garden irrigation system. In the first consumption (and resultant costs and emissions)
year of use the system accounted for 28 per cent and increase thermal comfort and health of the
of the total water use in the house. occupants, and;

Passive cooling: Though the orientation Advanced service and system installation to
was already established (being a retrofit), the reduce energy and/or water consumption
strategic placement of trees, the extension of through active technological means
eaves and the shading of windows were all done The following points are important considerations
to avoid direct sunlight and to help the house for a successful retrofit project (TSB, 2013):
remain cool. The interior of the home was also
reconfigured to maximise natural ventilation. Project planning: Time spent in detailed pre-
design; careful sequencing of works, enabled by
Green roof: the green roof is used to absorb the well-coordinated procurement
direct sunlight that would otherwise heat the
roof and the interior. Site management: Dedicated co-ordination
of the retrofit project; open and frequent
Renewable energy: two solar thermal systems communication between project team
heat the hot water use for the house (Rich, members; understanding among all site workers
2006). of importance of high performance/ energy
efficiency, etc.
Environmental retrofitting of
Understanding the supply chain: Anticipating
social housing the availability, price and lead times of
Retrofitting existing buildings can result in innovative products; working with the suppliers
significant reduction in emissions from (reduced) of control systems to ensure that those installed
material production and transport and construction are fit-for-purpose and simple to understand
waste. In developed countries like the UK and
Working closely with residents: Engaging
much of Europe, a majority of building standing
residents early and frequently in the process;
today will still be in use long into the future. In
helping residents to understand how to manage
order to meet respective GHG emissions reduction
their homes at different times of the year by
requirements, retrofitting the existing stock is
explaining system controls
essential. Section 5 presents some case studies in
green retrofitting for social housing purposes.

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Maintenance and management initial purpose. A significant benefit of a building

that is able to be reused is the prevention of the
approaches destruction and disposal of the materials. The
Traditional affordable housing projects tend versatility of the house to meet the needs of the
to require more maintenance than market-rate occupant throughout their life (accommodation for
housing however, green buildings can be built to future disability or growth in family size) also helps
be more durable and require less maintenance. The to prevent disposal or excessive reconfiguration.
use of more durable materials and components is
a technique inherent in green building that saves In developing countries, incremental housing
materials (and costs) through avoided maintenance where the basic necessities (kitchen, WC and
and replacement. Additional up-front investment shower, living / sleeping quarters and services) are
in a more durable design can lead to cost savings initially provided free of cost with provision for
through the life of the building, and should be future structured expansion by the occupants has
quantied as best as possible (Bradshaw et al., been found to help create a rich sustainable habitat.
2005). The design of the build should accommodate the
possibility of future expansion by minimising the
Durability in materials: Greater attention extent of demolition and material waste. The use
to building component durability reduces of materials that are recyclable can also assist in the
maintenance frequency and costs (Bradshaw et al., reconfiguration of the building or the total reuse of
2005). Alternatively where local and renewable the materials for future use.
materials are used and where the occupants are well
trained in the use of the materials, maintenance Monitoring and evaluation of
can be easy to deal with from an occupant point
of view. For lighting, CFLs or LEDs reduce
green social housing
maintenance costs due to longer bulb life. Monitoring and evaluation of sustainable housing
practices is vital for demonstrating to various
The xeriscape approach to landscaping is a actors, including the political institutions and
theoretically maintenance free approach to outdoor the national/ international financial institutions,
space and green roof vegetation. This technique the benefits of sustainable housing. In many cases
uses native plants to reect local character and cut there can also be a performance gap between
down on external water use needed to keep plants design intent and actual performance of green
alive. By using only local species, only plants that buildings (or any building). All stakeholders can
grow in the climate naturally are used, meaning be responsible for addressing this gap by initially
that they will require less maintenance and water working together, communicating effectively and
than other species (Bradshaw et al., 2005). evaluating the performance of the built product.
Flexibility in Design: Design built to enable In doing so, the performance gap can be quantified
flexible expansion or reuse of the building ensures and future changes can be made to avoid common
the sustainability of the development beyond the mistakes.

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Monitoring and evaluation should feed into designers, builders, suppliers, etc. can be
policies and help secure funding. It is important evaluated for faults and future improvement
to monitor and evaluate all aspects of sustainable
Impact evaluation forces the stakeholders in the
housing including social, economic and cultural
building process to be involved in the occupants
(UN-Habitat, 2012a). Furthermore, the evaluation
understanding and appropriate operation of the
methodology can ensure progressive development
of green building ideas, design decisions, material
use, systems installation and commissioning With regard to environmental impact and
through the essential step of documentation and performance, evaluation processes provide the
forward-feeding of lessons learned. To do this capacity to quantify such variables as water
effectively it is essential that all teams involved use, indoor air quality, in-use carbon dioxide
document, learn from and feed-forward results emissions, embodied energy of materials,
for future design and construction decisions. A thermal comfort, energy generation and
national or local green building group would be demand.
invaluable in spreading and enabling the learning In developed countries tools such as LEED
from this process. and BREEAM are used to assess some impact
Impact evaluation can take many forms in evaluation. These tools are not always easily
terms of complexity and extent of evaluation. directly implemented in developing countries.
As noted above there can environmental, social, Intermediate tools need to be introduced;
economic and cultural evaluation. This section depending on the intent, tools with greater focus on
will focus specifically on the environmental impact monitoring and performance evaluation exist and
assessment of buildings. The evaluation of impact can be used. One of the possible tools to be used
and performance is important for a number of is Sustainable Building Assessment Methodology
reasons: (SBAM) developed by SKAT (Swiss Resource
Centre and Consultancies for Development).
New or improved building material, systems SBAM is a participatory tool conducted through a
and methods need to be evaluated for success or workshop where stakeholders (30-35 participants
failure and future improvement including community members, private sector,
public sector, donors, authorities and professionals)
Evaluation can show where faults exist which
define context-specific qualitative and quantitative
can be improved in the existing building
indicators for sustainable building practices based
The performance gap (the difference between on experiences and needs of the specific community;
predicted performance and actual performance) assess already implemented building projects; and
can be quantified and suggestions for select solutions (such as sustainable technologies)
improvement can be defined for both the for future interventions. Environmental, social,
prediction process and the building process institutional, economic and cultural dimensions are
The complicated dynamic and communication considered and the life cycle of the building process
process between, clients, finance group, looked into. A web based software application is

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used to organise, present and store the information The post-completion and handover phase can
gathered (UN-Habitat, 2012a). These tools, be divided into three stages. These stages cover
specifically, LEED and BREEAM, predict impact the following: 1) Design and construction audit
with a small level of post-construction evaluation. predicted performance calculations review,
Other methodologies and tools like building drawings and specifications review, interviews
performance evaluation and Soft Landings focus and walkthroughs with design team, client and
entirely on the impact and evaluation of the built developer (different sessions), observation and
product, sometimes following the building a few review of systems controls, and photographic
years after construction ensuring maximum benefit survey; 2) Post-construction audit fabric
and performance. testing using various methods such as co-heating
test, air permeability test, thermographic
Building performance evaluation imaging, and U-value measurements, review
of systems performance and commissioning; 3)
The main purpose of building performance Handover and early occupation observation
evaluation (BPE) is to maximise the intended of the handover to the occupants, review of
efficiencies (minimising unintended issues) home user guidance, questionnaire surveys of
through closing the performance gap and acceptability, thermal comfort, initial reactions,
contributing to future closure through the and walkthrough interviews with occupants.
learning process (minimising future unintended
consequences). The key benefits of BPE can be The in-use phase involves a qualitative and
categorised into time-frames, short, medium and quantitative assessment. The qualitative involves
long-term benefits: the on-going assessment of the users experience
and opinion through seasonal interviews
Short-term benefits - immediate design and questionnaires. User assessment can also
decisions and facility maintenance and include diaries. The quantitative assessment of
management issues resolved energy use, water use, indoor air quality, etc. is
done through collection of energy and services
Medium-term benefits lessons learnt fed-
statements and monitoring of variables such as
forward to future projects for all teams involved
temperature and indoor CO2 concentrations.
i.e., architect, construction, consultants,
The qualitative and quantitative elements are
building owners, etc. Closing the feedback loop.
compared for analysis.
Long-term benefits - improving the long-term
BPE, in-use phase has three main areas of study,
performance of buildings and to justifying
energy use, environmental conditions, and
financial investment and major expenditures
occupant feedback. These three areas of study
through monitoring and verification.
when taken alone to analyse and report on the
BPE is a methodology that can be divided into post-occupancy performance of a building is
two separate phases. These phases are 1) post- known also as post-occupancy evaluation (POE).
completion and handover and 2) In-use.

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Figure 4.5 The three elements of in-use BPE / POE

POE Methodology

Desktop Research:
Analysis of drawings,
speciafications and predicted
Energy Assessment resource consumption In-use monitoring of the
thermal environment
Fuel bills
Fuel metering
Performance Humidity
benchmarking (CO2) Air quality
Lighting (electric and daylight)
(correlated with external
Triangulation Analysis conditions)

Occupant Feedback Surveys * Environmental assessment can

also include water consumption,
rainwatercollection, waste
Thermal comfort andotherresource management.
Air quality
Building controls
Overall perception of comfort Occupant feedback and environmental
Overall perception of health measurement correlation verification
with Walkthrough surveys including
Forgiveness factor
spot measurements

Key findings
Lessons learnt for future

adapted from: Gupta and Gregg, 2014.

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Energy and environmental performance

Evaluation of energy and environmental performance is an important element of the in-use stage of
evaluation. The following table lists tools (not exhaustive) that can be used to evaluate the in-use energy
and environmental performance of retrofitted or new-build homes.

Table 4.1 Common retrofit BPE tools and actions to assess energy and
environmental performance

Tool/action Stage Measures Reveals/provides

Metering of energy Pre-retrofit BPE (ideally Energy use of whole or Baseline for post-retrofit comparison
consumption or generation before design stage) individual equipment/
and water consumption appliances (individual power energy use: isolation of
In-use (post-retrofit) meters can be used for performance and problem solving
on-going appliances)

Environmental spot Pre-retrofit BPE (ideally Internal: temperature, Pre/ post-retrofit comparisons,
measurements, on-going before design stage) relative humidity (RH), CO2 comparisons with occupant
onsite monitoring and (proxy for indoor air quality perception, and isolation of
climatic data collection In-use (post-retrofit) (IAQ)), daylight factor, and irregularities with implications on
(weather station) spot measurements noise levels energy use
seasonally or annually/
monitoring on-going Advanced IAQ: ventilation
flow rate, VOCs, NOx, CO, etc.

External: temperature, RH,

and solar irradiance

Infrared thermography Pre-retrofit BPE (ideally Qualitative visualisation of Heat loss, thermal bridging, gaps
(effective in combination before design stage) surface temperatures in insulation, changes in insulation,
with air permeability test areas of in/ exfiltration, etc.
and assist in locating ideal Post-completion
locations for smoke tests (fabric testing) Identify areas in need of
and U-Value measurements) improvement or repair
Construction completion

Cohen et al., 2001; IfS, 2011; Gupta et al., 2013.

Feedback on resident expectations and Walkthrough evaluation of all elements from

satisfaction systems, to controls, to occupant behaviour.
As with energy and environmental monitoring, The walkthrough allows the occupant to guide
collection of feedback on resident expectations and the evaluator through the home and to present
satisfaction is an important element of the in-use the home through the eyes of the occupant.
stage of evaluation which can be cross-examined Allowing the occupant to lead can quickly point
with the former. Feedback evaluation can include: out what is well understood and what is not
well understood by the occupant. Furthermore,
the occupant will likely present issues.

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Second, questionnaire surveys and interviews and daylight), their current levels of
are used to assess occupant satisfaction and environmental awareness, and use of
behaviour. Beyond questions regarding thermal controls, comparing it with monitored data
comfort, lighting, ventilation, air quality and and post-completion control interface review
noise there are questions looking for the users (where applicable).
perception and satisfaction in general. For
Building design and aesthetics: Testing
example, does the house satisfy the occupants
preliminary environmental strategies of
needs? In addition:
the building (orientation, services, etc.)
Building controls: Assessing the occupants and evaluating success or otherwise from
indoor environmental satisfaction (covering the perspective of the different users of the
thermal comfort, air quality, ventilation building (Gupta and Gregg, 2014).

Table 4.2 Common retrofit BPE tools and actions for occupant feedback

Tool/action Stage Measures Reveals/provides

Questionnaire, interviews Pre-retrofit BPE (ideally Occupant satisfaction, habits, Opinion on aesthetic, comfort,
and walkthroughs for before design stage) and concerns noise, air quality, perception of
occupants health and control, etc. Pinpoint
In-use (post-retrofit) issues, problem resolution
seasonally or annually

Occupant participation Pre-retrofit BPE (ideally Occupant satisfaction, habits, Occupant habits, opinion, and
tools, e.g. journaling, before design stage) and concerns interaction
photographic and video
audits (by occupant) and In-use (post-retrofit) Pinpoint issues, problem resolution
focus groups seasonally or annually

Cohen et al., 2001; IfS, 2011; Gupta et al., 2013.

Summary important aspects are flexibility for adaptation

and expansion; incorporating local culture and
Building orientation, form and envelope (colour, vernacular architecture; local participation in
thermal mass, and shading) contribute towards design and construction.
creating a locally appropriate passive design
which utilises natural climate, material properties Sustainable building materials have a minimal
and physical laws to maintain internal thermal impact on the environment, occupant health and
comfort. Solar passive design considerations use less energy than conventional materials over
(appropriate and well-distributed access to sunlight the entire lifecycle of the product (harvesting,
and wind), need to be an essential aspect of both production, transportation, construction,
site and building level planning/design. Other maintenance, demolition, recycling). Some basic

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C hapter 04: Strateg i es fo r g reen i n g so c i a l ho u si ng

considerations when choosing sustainable materials cooling, renewable technologies like photovoltaic
are local availability, durability, workability, panels can contribute to the minimisation of
structural capacity, embodied energy, thermal the buildings impact on the environment as the
performance, affordability, disaster risk (fire, flood, building is used.
and earthquakes), impact on indoor air quality and
health, recyclability, installation and maintenance Evaluation of the construction process and
requirements. building performance is essential to help shape
future policies and practices; create evidence base
Building services equipment can have more for promoting green buildings and to help secure
environmental impact in production but can funding for exemplar projects. Impact evaluation
save significantly over the life of the building. can have varying complexities and focus on
Building services include provision for plumbing, environmental, social, economic and cultural
sanitation, drainage; fuel for lighting, appliances, aspects, however the three key evaluation criteria
cooking; energy generation; heating and cooling recommended initially are energy use, comfort
systems where necessary. Efficient cooking stoves, and occupant feedback.
energy efficient lighting, solar thermal heating and

70 Green building interventions for social housing

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Green building interventions for social housing 71


Case studies of green This section presents case studies in green social
housing. Sub-section 5.1 (table 5.1) presents
social housing the framework used to identify and assess the
sustainability of social housing projects with green
innovations using the various criteria identified.
There are projects which are able to demonstrate
implementation of multiple criteria. Equally not
all case studies satisfy all criteria. Sub-section 5.2
outlines the 10 best practice case studies which
are subject to the framework in table 5.1 and sub-
section 5.3 presents these case studies in detail.

The framework includes different criteria relating

to policy instruments, financial models for
delivery, cost of development, cost to occupants
and details of sustainable and technical measures
implemented. Developed and developing countries
were both considered to assess the range of general
lessons which can be applied for implementation
of green social housing (sub-section 5.4). Finally
sub-section 5.5 presents four green social housing
case studies in the UK which failed to meet their
particular goals resulting in greater than projected
energy consumption (and carbon emissions), not
meeting regulatory design guidelines, and occupant
dissatisfaction relating to overly complicated
systems and thermal discomfort.
C ha pter 05: Ca se stud i es o f g reen so c i a l ho u si ng

Matrix for case study selection

Table 5.1 Matrix for case study selection

Building Restoration Sustainable Village: Low energy and Technical team Cato Manor Green
for Social Housing Post-earthquake passive housing in planning for self-help Street
Purposes: Celso reconstruction and Ljubljana housing in the Kambi
Garcia, 787 rehab. in Da Ping Moto Community
Location So Paulo, Brazil Da Ping Village, Ljubljana, Slovenia Kambi Moto Durban, KwaZulu
Sichuan, Peoples community, Nairobi, Natal, South Africa
Republic of China Kenya
New build or Refurbishment New build Refurbishment New build Refurbishment
Number of dwellings 84 units 200 units 371 units in 3 phases 270 units 30 home retrofits
between 2008-2011;
ongoing work of
National Housing
Fund to build 600+
social units to
Passivhaus standard
Typical dwelling size 26m2 33m2 Avg. 35m2 Unspecified/ varies Est. 58m2 (three Typically 30m2 (some
stories on 20-25m2 have formal or
plot) informal additions)
Building cost: US$7,140 per unit US$76/m2 Total (refurbishment Unknown Total (refurbishment
for case cost) US$1,248,000 cost) US$86,800
US$7,980 (US$3,364 / unit)
US$13,330 per unit (US$2,893 / unit)
Building cost: US$28,000 per unit US$150 - 180/m2 (for US$70,172 per unit US$18,360 per unit: US$2,647 per unit
business as usual (Iguape Condo, normal construction) (Slovenian Housing maximum building new build social
So Paulo) (social Fund and Community cost at which a housing (eThekwini
housing) of Izola social housing developer may be typical
project 2004) exempt from VAT
(social housing) cost estimate)
Policies and policy Regulatory and None mentioned Voluntary labelling None mentioned None, however, the
instruments control instruments: and certification: project has a number
Standard building Passivhaus; of policy related
codes recommendations
Legislation for all and changes being
new private & public implemented in the
building: must be future for South Africa
designed to a low (see GBCSA, 2012).
energy standard and
incorporate renewable
energy sources

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The New Generation Improved traditional Tiny house villages for Lisnahull Terrace: Passive Solar Housing
of Yaodong Cave housing in Papua USAs homeless Irelands first certified in the Cold Desert of
Dwellings, Loess New Guinea Social Passive the Indian Himalayas
Plateau Housing Scheme
Location Loess Plateau, Papua New Guinea Various USA Dungannon, Northern Ladakh and Lahaul-
Peoples Republic of Ireland, UK Spiti, India
New build or New build New Build New build New build Both
Number of dwellings Pilot: 85 units; 312 house + health 11 30 units each 5 units 970 units and 30
beyond: 1,000 units and community location; potentially community buildings
buildings more (ongoing)
Typical dwelling size 80-100m2 50-90 m2 Newfield, NY: 30m2; 3 bed: 84m2 Unspecified

Madison, WI: 14m 2

4 bed: 89m 2

- 37m2
Building cost: US$27/m2 US$400-1200/m2 US$5,000 - $87,000 US$218,179 per unit Total estimated:
for case per unit (differs widely US$1.6M
US$2,160 by location and
US$2,700 per unit
Building cost: ? US$1800/m2 Varies widely across US$169,508 US$10,106 per unit
business as usual (conventional the USA $206,024 per unit (Cost to rebuild
construction) (social housing: Ulidia with prefabricated
Housing Association, housing after floods
North Ireland) in Uttarakhand)
Policies and policy None mentioned None mentioned Regulatory and Regulatory and None mentioned;
instruments control instruments: control instruments:
Standard building Standard building A first draft of the
codes codes, Code for energy efficient
Sustainable Homes building code has
Level 4, Lifetime been submitted to the
Homes, Secured by national Ministry for
Design New and Renewable
Energy as well as to
Voluntary labelling the local Authorities
and certification:

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Financial models Low interest (0.7%) Funded upfront; 20% from Negotiated land Majority funded
15 year loans repaid half costs paid by municipality and tenure of previous by the British High
by residents monthly occupants and 80% from Slovenian informal settlement; Commission
half funded by Environmental community ownership
international aid and Public Fund loans of land; building loans
local government (repayment is over 15 for construction
years at 1%)
Monthly cost to US$74 per month Fuel bills only (owned) Rent and fuel bills Loan repayment and Reduction in energy
residents to own fuel bills costs (no additional
cost to residents)
Subsidies Low interest rate on Local government and Local government and No subsidy or No subsidy
loans international aid met Public Fund external resources for (endorsed by
half the building cost construction costs. the Dept. of
All construction Environmental Affairs)
costs were met by
households alone
Sustainable Building reuse; Innovative wall Insulation on walls, Local materials and Insulated ceilings,
innovations: shallow plan to tech., material reuse, basement floor and methods: minimal high albedo roof
energy and demand ensure adequate renewable material roof; thermal shutters; embodied energy; paint, replaced unsafe
reduction, waste natural ventilation use; filtration system replaced windows formal connection to electrical wiring,
management, etc. and daylight provides potable and doors; heat water and sewerage efficient lighting,
water from mountain recovery ventilation and heat insulation
spring (MVHR) cookers; rainwater

harvesting tanks,
and food gardens
Technical None 50% of all energy Liquid/earth heat None Solar water heaters
innovations: from renewables: exchangers; solar (SWHs),
integration of biogas production thermal; photovoltaic
Behaviour change Through a process Sense of ownership Tenants are The community 20% use grey water
activities of participation and awareness individually instructed united, developed to water gardens;
and social support, through self-help in how to manage skills and worked solid waste disposal
residents took on construction and heating systems and closely on all aspects doubled (less local
the role of primary management to have a greater of the process dumping); potential
decision takers in involvement in the design, planning, behaviour related
the design, planning management of their saving, construction, energy reduction (in
and on-going apartments. project management. addition to technical).
management of the

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Financial models Completely funded Private sector Religious and non- Developer funded; Half from the EU and
by homeowners with contributions mixed profit orgs. raise evaluation funded by FR; other half from
technical support with national and money, donations Technology strategy foundations, private
and guidance from international subsidies (incl. materials), and Board (28,250) sector, gen. public.
the Green Building volunteer hours; Also carbon credits
Research Centre one case, Olympia, through the GERES
(GBRC) WA had some state CO2 Solidaire scheme
Monthly cost to Not specified / fuel Not specified Rent and fuel bills Rent and fuel bills Not specified
residents bills US$90/ month for
14m2 - US$375/
month for 37m2
Subsidies No state subsidy National and State assistance Not specified Half of the project
international provided in the case funds come from
subsidies. of Olympia, WA; some institutional funds
cases land leased from the European
from local authority Union and France
for US$1 p.a.
Sustainable Thermal mass (earth Low embodied Material reuse, Triple glazed doors Passive solar
innovations: shelter), recycled energy; design to composting toilets, and windows, high orientation and
energy and demand building materials, provide natural shared bathing and performance external design; thermal mass;
reduction, waste solar spaces cooling; composting cooking facilities elements, minimised insulated to a higher
management, etc. toilets; rainwater thermal bridging, standard to reduce
harvesting, airtight sealing, heat demand
Technical Solar hot water Solar power Solar hot water Solar hot water Biomass heating
innovations: and photovoltaic already used and
integration of depending on case reduced through
renewables project
Behaviour change Residents were None mentioned Focus is more on A pre-allocation Householders
activities advised on how social behavioural information meeting contribute labour and
to take greatest change for those tenants, develop skills
advantage of the new
dwellings pre-handover viewing, ---
tenant User Guides
and posters in each Raising awareness to
home, follow up save energy with local
support media campaigns
reaching an estimated
300,000 persons

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Community Extensive discussions, Villagers provided None mentioned Experiencing the As a COP17 legacy,
awareness and workshops and group construction labour; results of building the Cato Manor
engagement activities were carried Villagers responsible efforts on a daily Green Street is
out with residents to for management of and practical level, established as
promote community the local environment. the women in the a permanent
co-operation and community felt free demonstration and
integration. to speak out on
what needed to be living learning site;
improved in the next residents are trained
building phase. to be tour guides
Community None mentioned Master plan: eco None mentioned A catering group
interactions (e.g. village including has been formed
urban agriculture) organic agriculture and is developing its
Evaluation Unknown whether Energy consumption Energy consumption Method unspecified Electricity and water
evaluation took place monitoring (3 year monitoring, bi-yearly consumption, and
monitoring plan) interviews temperature and
humidity monitored;
pre- and post-
household surveys.

Also measured cost

benefit, income and
quality of life
Source(s) WHA, 2004; WHA, 2011b WHA, 2010; WHA, 2009b; GBCSA, 2012;
Noppen, 2013
UN-habitat, 2013b ECA, n.d. Aucamp and Moodley,

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Community People work together Participatory planning Example: Having None mentioned Ensuring sustainability
awareness and with their friends and and building process; hundreds of residents by training local
engagement neighbours to build Over the course of get to know people masons and
their own homes. the project, over that were homeless carpenters in energy
1000 workers were made a huge efficient construction
employed and trained difference in the techniques
in the techniques success of the project
used. in Olympia.
Community The design of the None mentioned Urban agriculture, None mentioned Unspecified/ work
interactions (e.g. housing is conducive communal amenities, is done in existing
urban agriculture) to people meeting e.g. kitchen and village with
their neighbours showers community in place
Evaluation Thermal performance Unknown whether Unknown whether TSB funded 2 Internal and external
and occupant evaluation took place evaluation took place year study: Post evaluations including
satisfaction was Completion and Early baseline surveys,
monitored in the pilot Occupancy evaluation, impact studies,
study e.g. effective design mid-term and end-
and build execution term evaluations,
and In Use and Post and an annual
Occupancy evaluation, general review.
e.g. energy use, Findings are used
temperature, humidity, to inform practice. A
and CO2 levels + regularly measured
qualitative interviews key indicator for
and questionnaires, sustainability is the
satisfaction of the
local community.
Source(s) WHA, 2006 WHA, 2003; Lundahl, 2014; Constructing WHA, 2011a;
UN-Habitat, 2012a Opportunity Village Excellence in NI, n.d.;
Eugene, 2014; Gallagher, n.d.; URS Firstpost, 2013
Community First!, Scott Wilson, 2012
2014; Occupy
Madison, n.d.

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Best practice case study locations

Figure 5.1 shows the locations of the international & cultural sustainability aspects of each case
best practice case studies. The templates used to study. These features are followed by supplemental
present the case studies in sub-section 5.2 focus information in addition to the information
first on the environmental, economic and social supplied in the matrix.

Figure 5.1 Case study locations

North America Sub-Saharan Africa

Tiny house villages for USAs homeless, various cities Self-help housing in the Kambi Moto Community,
Latin America and Caribbean Nairobi, Kenya
Building Restoration for Social Housing Purposes in So Cato Manor Green Street, Durban, South Africa
Paulo, Brazil Asia
Europe Sustainable Village in Da Ping, China
Low energy and passive housing in Ljubljana, Slovenia The New Generation of Yaodong Cave Dwellings, Loess
Irelands first certified Social Passive Housing Scheme, Plateau, China
Dungannon Passive Solar Housing, India
Improved traditional housing in Papua New Guinea

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Best practice case studies

Building Restoration for Social Housing
Purposes - Celso Garcia, 787
Unification of Tenement- Housing
Struggles (ULC) and Integra
So Paulo, Brazil

The city centre of So Paulo is filled with empty

buildings while, paradoxically, millions of people live
in inadequate conditions elsewhere.

Despite advances in public policies for housing
in the last two decades, Brazils housing deficit is
5.6 million housing units, 63 per cent of which is
accounted for by families with a monthly income
below US$250. In So Paulo, Brazils largest city,
an estimated one fifth of the population of 17.5
million is currently living in inadequate housing
conditions, in favelas (squatter settlements), So Paulo, Brazil.
cortios (overcrowded tenement housing) or
clandestine land subdivisions. In recent years
government offices, businesses and financial
Key features
institutions have left the city centre, leaving 30
In 1999, the ULC popular movement for housing
per cent of buildings disused or under-utilised.
(Unification of Tenement-Housing Struggles)
The city centre of So Paulo is filled with empty
occupied a derelict building, formerly a bank
buildings while, paradoxically, millions of people
branch, in the centre of So Paulo. With assistance
live in inadequate conditions elsewhere.
from Integra, feasibility studies were carried out, as
This Building Restoration for Social Housing well as negotiations with the owner and the public
Purposes project works toward the reversal of the authorities, in order to negotiate the purchase of
process of exodus from the central area, proposing the property and enable the conversion of the
housing alternatives in city areas that have lost empty building into apartments for 84 member
part of their population in the last several years yet families living in inadequate housing conditions.
remain rich in urban infrastructure.

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typically range from US$83 to US$100 per month.

Residents are responsible for ongoing service and
Environmental sustainability maintenance costs of approximately US$23.50 per
Building reuse: reduce urban expansion and month. At the end of the process, resident families
protect unused land lease the housing units from the bank for a period
Revitalisation of city centre; urban location: reduce of 15 years, after which time they become owners
transportation emissions of their apartments.
Natural ventilation where the building used to be
air conditioned Housing units range from 26m to 33m and
Financial sustainability
careful steps were taken to ensure that adequate
natural ventilation and lighting was provided to
Revitalisation of the urban centre increasing its each housing unit in the deep-plan, formerly air-
asset base
conditioned and electrically lit building. Through
Urban location increases employment an innovative process of participation and social
opportunities of occupants
support, residents took on the role of primary
Social & cultural sustainability decision takers in the design, planning and on-
Integration and active participation of future going management of the project. Integra, selected
residents, including participatory workshops and by the ULC to take part in this project, carried
extensive follow-up support out a series of activities with ULC members and
future residents that included general weekly
meetings, meetings with the elected co-ordination
The project, developed by the ULC in conjunction committee, work group activities and the creation
with Integra, was approved by the public authorities of a space for discussion on themes ranging from
and received funding from the Caixa Econmica project design and building codes to conflict
Federal (CEF), Brazils federal savings bank, resolution and community development. The
through the PAR Housing Lease Programme. The objective was to promote the integration and active
$600,000 package covered the costs of purchasing participation of future residents, to consolidate
the building, renovating and converting the space public spaces for talks and deliberations and
into residential units, architectural design and to provide ongoing support without creating a
engineering, and social/community development relationship of dependence between the group of
work (provided by Integra). The project involved residents and the Technical Advisory team.
the creation of 84 dwelling units at an average cost
of US$ 7,140 per unit. The costs of the project, Innovative Aspects
funded by the CEF, are repaid by the residents The project has resulted in improved housing
in affordable monthly instalments, which do not conditions and increased opportunities for an
exceed 0.7% of the total cost, over a period of excluded segment of the population. The provision
fifteen years. Average monthly payments of US$50 of adequate natural ventilation and lighting has
are cheaper than the rents charged in cortios resulted in improved health conditions, particularly
(overcrowded tenement-style housing), which among children. The project has greatly reduced

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the vulnerability of residents as it follows strict Sustainable Village - Post-earthquake

building codes. reconstruction and rehabilitation in
Recycling of derelict buildings in the city centre Da Ping
into affordable housing for social purposes,
Green Building Research Centre
making use of existing buildings and urban
infrastructure. Da Ping Village, Sichuan, Peoples Republic of China
The entire village, including more than 200
Provision of housing for low-income sectors of houses and 11 public buildings, was reconstructed
the population (residents were either homeless using traditional construction methods and
or living in inadequate housing conditions) in environmentally sustainable materials and design.
central urban areas, close to the workplace.
Articulation of Urban Popular Movements for Context
housing with local public authorities, the CEF Despite the abundance of food, Sichuan remains
and the building owners. a poor part of China with many of its working
population having moved away for work, leaving
Innovative social approach, involving the poor and elderly behind. Housing is typically
participatory workshops with future residents of inferior quality, with poor natural lighting
and extensive follow-up support and environmental performance. Brick masonry
This is the first project within a national structures, constructed by householders trying to
housing programme to involve change of use imitate urban dwellings, are not seismic resistant.
(commercial to residential) (WHA, 2004). The Wenchuan Earthquake measuring 8.0 on the
Richter Scale struck China on 12th May 2008,

Da Ping Village, Sichuan, Peoples Republic of China.

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causing extensive damage and killing 70,000

people. In Da Ping Village, less than 30km away
Environmental sustainability
from the earthquakes epicentre, virtually all houses
In depth analysis of local conditions for design
were damaged or collapsed in the earthquake.
Earning a living in the devastated town became
Constructed of locally abundant timber and
impossible. Temporary housing provided after the
earthquake was insufficient, but seemed the only
All reusable material salvaged an reused from
option due to the rapid increase in construction
damaged buildings
material costs.
Performed post-occupancy surveys including
resident satisfaction surveys and monitoring of
Key features
energy consumption
Over 200 houses and 11 public buildings were
Over fifty per cent of all energy comes from
built on the same site as the original settlement
renewable sources (includes wood fuel and bio-
gas production)
using environmentally sustainable materials and
design. A five-stage process was used, with in-
Post-construction support includes local
green planting, ecology and continued village depth analysis of local conditions and consultation
environmental management with residents prior to design and development,
Financial sustainability followed by post occupancy surveys, including
resident satisfaction surveys and monitoring of
Construction based on local timber-frame method
which villagers were accustomed to building and energy use.
Fifty per cent of the population earns less than
Material reuse reduce building costs
US$1,050 per annum, so low cost construction
Significant reduction in household fuel bills was essential. The average house cost was less than
Social & cultural sustainability US$76 per m2 and with a typical size of 35m2 per
Consultation with residents prior to design and person typical house prices ranged from US$7,980
development for a three-person household to US$13,330 for a
Provision of community centre providing space for five-person household. This compares to US$150
training in organic agriculture, construction and per m2 to 180 per m2 for normal construction and
medical treatment
is significantly lower because the villagers used their
Local building knowledge improved through help own labour and local timber as well as salvaging
of qualified engineers throughout building process
materials. Costs were met from a combination
Modern farming and hygiene improvement of residents savings, and grant aid from the Red
methods were taught to the villagers through
Cross as well as the local government. Overall,
organic agriculture, site planning (distancing
dwellings from livestock), sanitation management,
donations from the Red Cross and the government
and potable water filtering system accounted for half of the total cost, the villagers
Project established community led and managed
self-contribution accounted for the other half.
enterprises to generate wealth

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Innovative Aspects There needs to be a balance between social

The creation of an ecological village master plan acceptance and architectural performance, so
developed on sustainable design principles. that the cost, architectural form and comfort
are easily acceptable by the occupants.
The project retains the traditional way of life
and spurs development of the local economy by Transfer of ideas
harnessing local resources in an environmentally Plans and construction drawings have been sent
sensitive manner. out following multiple requests
Core house and module concepts are used to The methods developed in Da Ping Village
enable flexible design options. Once the core were also used in Yushu County, Qinghai (120
house is finished, spaces can be added as needed homes provided in seven months), when an
for further living requirements. earthquake struck in 2010; in constructing new
nomadic accommodation for Tibetan herdsmen
Lessons Learned
in Gangcha County, Qinghai (100 homes); in
The initial fast-built demonstration units are
Yinchuan City, Ningxia, in the northwest desert
essential in winning over residents to new ideas.
region (80 homes).
Intense involvement of the local villagers was
Residents from nearby villages have visited,
crucial to the success of the project.
learned from and emulated Da Ping
The module design concept can meet the
A commercial developer is looking at the
demands of a variety of families.
possibilities of replication near Xian (WHA,
A subtle balance between architectural form and 2011b).
thermal performance should be sought when it
comes to local material selection.
The use of low technology solutions makes self-
help and mutual help possible, encouraging
a sense of ownership and identity, as well as
facilitating transfer to nearby villages.

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Low energy and passive housing in careful design and mechanical ventilation to ensure
Ljubljana that the total energy demand for space heating and
cooling is less than 15 kWh/m2/yr treated floor
The Public Housing Fund of the area, and that the total primary energy use for all
Municipality of Ljubljana appliances, domestic hot water and space heating
Ljubljana, Slovenia and cooling is less than 120 kWh/m2/yr.

The main aim is to improve the energy consumption

in rental apartments in the municipality of
Ljubljana, by both retrofitting existing housing stock Environmental sustainability
and by building low energy/passive housing. Wherever possible used materials with low
embodied energy
Context Reduction in energy usage and carbon emissions
Projects have been undertaken to reduce housing
A range of technologies are used including heat
and maintenance costs and enhance the quality of recovery ventilation units, pre-cooling and pre-
living conditions in municipally-owned non-profit heating of air with liquid earth heat exchangers,
rented dwellings in degraded parts of the city. The solar thermal and PV systems.
main activities of the project are to refurbish the Brownfield site development: reduces the need for
existing housing stock and to construct new stock transportation and the other negative aspects of
that is energy efficient. urban sprawl.
Financial sustainability
Key features
Additional temporary jobs have been created
The first project carried out was the refurbishment through the construction programmes
of an existing block where 57 apartments were
Urban location increases employment
created in an existing building with high levels opportunities of occupants
of energy efficiency. The work included putting
Significant reductions in energy bills for residents
insulation on the external walls, basement floor as a result of the energy reduction
and attic ceilings, and replacing windows and doors
Social & cultural sustainability
with energy efficient versions with external thermal
shutters. Other projects followed with added Tenants are instructed in how to manage heating
systems and have a greater involvement in the
benefits such as mechanical ventilation systems
management of their apartments
with 75 per cent heat recovery. As a result of all the
The improved quality of accommodation in the
retrofit work, energy consumption fell by nearly 40
social rental sector improves the status of social
per cent. Other projects followed including four
housing tenants; living in some of the better
new-build developments providing a total of 234 accommodation in the neighbourhood helps to
new apartments built to the PassivHaus standard in increase self-esteem.
2011. This standard uses high levels of insulation,

Green building interventions for social housing 85

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Ljubljana, Slovenia.

A range of resources have been deployed by the addition, the building design must include an
municipality to carry out the refurbishment work assessment of how these requirements will be
to date. These include the municipalities own fulfilled.
resources (20%) and loans from the Slovenian
Ljubljana City policies now have a much
Environmental Public Fund (SEPF) (80%).
greater emphasis on urban sustainability,
addressing urban issues such as sprawl, public
transportation etc. The example, the capital city
These projects are carried out in degraded parts
is increasingly being taken up by other towns
of the city and have had positive socio-economic
and cities in Slovenia.
impacts on surrounding areas.
Fuel consumption and the associated carbon Lessons Learned
emissions have been reduced and a greater Every project is different and every project
awareness of the need to save energy has been needs special analysis, not only in respect of the
developed, in both the private and social site capacity but also in terms of future users of
housing sectors. Schools and kindergartens are the buildings. It is essential to involve tenants in
also being built to low energy standards. all discussions at every stage, in order to ensure
that they have maximum information on how
Legislation has been passed to ensure that all to best use and live in the dwellings and thus
new buildings in the city, both private and maximise their energy savings.
public construction, must be designed to a
low energy standard and must incorporate The need for teamwork is important throughout
renewable energy sources available on site. In the project, but especially during the design and
construction phases.

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Evaluation Context
The overall energy consumption in the blocks 60 per cent of the inhabitants of Nairobi live in
is being monitored on a regular basis, including informal settlements. In Kenya, the professional
online monitoring in the newest flats. Residents services of architects and engineers are not affordable
are contacted twice a year during periods of for a majority of the population. Although the
maintenance and are interviewed during these urban poor show impressive improvisation skills
visits to monitor occupant satisfaction. and innovation to better their housing situation,
there is a need for value that can be added by the
Transfer of ideas technical and design professions.
Exhibitions, guided tours, presentations and
workshops have encouraged other organisations Kambi Moto means place of fire and is so called
to consider their ideas and approaches, especially because the high density of housing structures
in the private sector, where commercial investors made from wood and scrap materials have burned
found that social housing was offering higher down on several occasions. The households have
standards than they were. remained in this overcrowded location due to its
proximity to the citys infrastructure and livelihood
The development of an EI-Education
opportunities. Typically for this kind of informal
programme for social housing companies
housing situation, the inhabitants include so-called
and a practical guidebook for social housing
structure owners, who act as landlords for up to
companies on energy intelligent retrofitting are
30 shacks and receive their income from tenants
both ongoing initiatives.
who often have to pay exorbitant rents for their
The Slovenian experience has been shared (inadequate) shelter.
with the other EU cities participating in the
REBECEE programme (Alingsas, Kiel, Riga, Key features
Tallinn, Sofia and Vilnius) (WHA, 2010). The Technical Team, working in conjunction
with local NGO the Pamoja Trust, Nairobi City
Planning Department and both universities in the
Technical team planning for self-help
city, engaged with the residents of Kambi Moto.
housing in the Kambi Moto Community The Technical Team is an informal network of
Kambi Moto community professionals (architects, planners and surveyors)
working alongside communities of the urban poor
Nairobi, Kenya
to enable them to build their own homes and
This programme was developed to enable the 270 gain security of land tenure. Further, by training
households of Kambi Moto informal settlement to the community on procurement procedures and
gain security of tenure and to design and construct management of the projects, these tasks can be
their own homes, whilst simultaneously developing adopted by community members, minimising
their skills in procurement and project management future long-term reliance on professional input.

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Nairobi, Kenya.

Environmental sustainability Social & cultural sustainability

Locally available lava stone blocks were used as Due to the learned skills, the community members are
building materials for the new homes, rather than now applying and qualifying for formal construction
cement blocks. work outside the settlement.
Floor slabs and roof terraces were built with pre- A catering group has also been formed and is
fabricated concrete mini-floor slabs that use a fraction developing its business.
of steel and cement compared to conventional The community has come together, developed skills
concrete. and worked closely on all aspects of the process
The planning of the settlement took into account design, planning, saving, construction, project
the local knowledge of the site and conditions when management and sharing their experience through
considering natural storm-water run-off, path and road exchanges with other communities
access. The community members have become better leaders
Financial sustainability and are equipped to articulate their needs clearly to
the city council.
In order to reduce the labour costs, the households
themselves provide unskilled labour. In so doing, the
future tenants developed labour skills.

The original informal plot was transferred to community savings scheme during the preparation
the community as a whole, and each household stage; 90 per cent of the construction cost is given
receives a sectional title, meaning that if a family as a loan. The construction has been carried out
wishes to sell up then their title is sold back to incrementally and in-situ so that the households
the community. All construction-related costs did not have to move out of the community. During
and 80 hours of labour are met by the households each construction phase between 20 and 30 homes
themselves. Ten per cent of the construction are built. Therefore only a small number of the
cost is a down-payment from the individual community are affected and can be accommodated
family, typically covered by savings, paid into the by their fellow community members.

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Innovative Aspects Knowledge transfer exchanges have taken

The community has been empowered to own place between professionals and between
and manage the whole process, developing skills communities in Nairobi. Community members
and increasing capacity as they go. from Kambi Moto have supported other
community building teams in Uganda and
The local professionals involved in this project
South Africa, and have shared their experiences
received training and motivation to work locally
in Asia through SDI exchanges.
and enhanced their skills by providing better
service to the community-built housing process. Other informal settlement upgrade schemes
across Nairobi (e.g., Gitathuru and Mahira in
The innovative urban layout that combines the
Huruma district) have learnt from this process,
pedestrian nature of the settlement with access
both from a design and implementation
for emergency vehicles has enabled all the 270
perspective (WHA, 2009b).
households to stay on site.
The phased construction process (20 to 30
houses) has reduced disruption, benefit from Cato Manor Green Street
bulk buying of materials, and has also enabled
Green Building Council of South Africa
learning to be passed from one phase to the
next. Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

The choice of locally available stone and In the Cato Manor Green Street, each household
components fabricated on site has reduced the received an energy and water efficient retrofit.
need for expensive, energy-intensive materials In addition, food gardens were established for
(for example cement and steel) and has involved the production of healthy, home grown food. The
training community members to produce polluted stream in the area was cleaned up and
materials, providing skills and an income. indigenous / fruit trees and smaller plants were
planted. This project was the first of its kind in
Transfer KwaZulu Natal, and one of the first in the country,
The ongoing community-led process of with such a broad set of interventions in one place.
negotiation on every issue from the design
through to the conditions for loan repayment Context
has served as a real and positive example for The South African government has built almost 3
other communities and technical professionals million low-cost homes since 1994 and a further
in Huruma and across Nairobi. 3 million are targeted by 2025. Cost-cutting
has been common to maximize delivery, but
The community of Kambi Moto is and will unfortunately this has meant that these homes
be assisting other urban poor communities in have generally been designed and constructed
Nairobi and other towns in their struggle to with no water heating system, and little regard for
enhance and secure their housing situation. energy and water efficiency, adequate insulation or
other green design considerations. For this reason

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people living in these houses continue to spend

significant amounts of their income on energy,
while suffering disproportionate health burdens. Environmental sustainability

Solar hot water

A few pioneering pilot projects like those in
Insulated ceilings and low albedo roof coating
Joe Slovo, Kleinmond, Kuyasa and Witsands
Energy efficient lighting and complete re-wiring of
in the Western Cape, Cosmo City in Gauteng,
electrical for safety
and Zanemvula in the Eastern Cape have
Heat retention insulation cookers
demonstrated the economic and societal benefits
Rainwater harvesting systems
of more sustainable design in low-income housing.
Not only do green interventions translate into Water efficient plumbing
energy, water and financial savings, but also reduce Food gardens
associated illness, safety risks, greenhouse gas Clean-up and rehabilitation of local stream
emissions and environmental impact. The South Indigenous plants replace invasive plants
African government has recognised the pressing Solid waste disposal intervention
need for more sustainable housing programmes. Financial sustainability

Key features Permaculture and food gardening training

The project involved consultation with local Food costs decreased for a number of residents
government to provide support and equipment, Onsite job training
e.g. LED streetlights, clean-up campaign, Home prices increased
environmental monitoring devices for monitoring Social & cultural sustainability
stage, etc. Further consultation took place with the
Community consultation
community to ensure co-operation and interest in
Permaculture and food gardening training
the project. Among other upgrades, the retrofit
involved installing insulation in the ceilings, Increased sense of community ownership

electrical upgrade, and solar hot water systems long

with the required plumbing. The project included
a monitoring and analysis stage which focussed on Innovative aspects
impact, notably electricity use, water use, comfort, Hot water on tap for the first time through solar
cost-benefit and quality of life. Learning from the hot water systems where before many residents
project has been used to make important policy could not afford the energy to heat water.
recommendations for the construction of new
Energy reduced by 25%.105 tonnes of carbon
homes, the retrofitting of existing houses, and the
have been avoided, and the sale of carbon
scaling up of key interventions.
credits will generate funds to be invested back
into this community.

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Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

Greater human comfort and aesthetics inside The New Generation of Yaodong Cave
homes, and improved health and safety. Peak Dwellings, Loess Plateau
temperatures on summer days have dropped by
4-6C with insulated ceilings. Overall internal Loess Plateau, Peoples Republic of China
discomfort levels have dropped. Less need for
Over 1,000 affordable, environmentally sustainable
fuels like paraffin, coal and wood mean reduced
dwellings have been built in the Yaodong cave area
health problems and fire safety risks for these
using traditional energy saving methods, vernacular
housing design, innovative solar energy systems, and
Training and work opportunities were created. natural ventilation methods help to reduce energy
A range of practical, on-the-job training consumption.
sessions and community education workshops
were conducted. Context
Located in north central China, the Loess plateau of
Water and food security increased for residents. undulating hills covers nearly 500,000 km2. Forty
The additional rainwater supply harvested boosts million people live in this region, 75 per cent of
water security, especially in times of erratic whom are farmers in rural areas. Living conditions
rainfall or droughts, and will keep water costs are amongst the lowest in China. Ninety per cent
down in periods of municipal water shortages. of the rural population live in various types of
Rainwater is mainly used for laundry and for yaodong, or cave dwellings. The earliest types of
watering food gardens. The tanks hold about these were dug into the hillsides and they have
30,000 litres over an average year of current- since evolved into masonry dwellings that are more
level rainfall, which is more than three months disengaged from the mountainside (only 10 per
worth of free basic water allocation. Water use cent are still in the dug-out form, 70 per cent have
is efficient, and grey water is also being used for their rear wall abutting the mountainside and the
food gardens. Sixty percent of homes say that remainder are entirely freestanding).
they are saving on food costs (GBCSA, 2012).

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Environmental sustainability Utility bills are lower as a result of reduced need for
Local topography provides housing structure, thereby
reducing the need for roofing and wall materials. Social & cultural sustainability
The building materials used are sourced locally and Retaining young people in the area with more modern
recycled building materials have been used wherever and inexpensive housing helps boost the local
possible. economy and prevents rural depopulation.
Earth shelter thermal mass maintains even People work together with their friends and
temperatures throughout the year. neighbours to build their own homes. The design of
Solar space provides heat and daylight - CO2 emission the housing is more conducive to people meeting their
saving per property is 2,400 kg (2.4 tonnes) for a 100 neighbours than living in one of the new flats in the
m2 dwelling. local towns.
Financial sustainability The houses are cut into hill terraces on land that is
infertile or hard to farm, thus maintaining the amount
The costs of the new dwellings are approximately
of land available for agriculture.
half of that of the new flats being built using western
methods and materials in the nearby towns

With the rapid growth of Chinas economy, most and earth-sheltered roofs, which serve to increase
rural people want to live in new, modern housing the indoor daylight levels, as well as improving
and tend to be dissatisfied with the traditional natural ventilation and humidity. The houses have
yaodong dwelling. As they become wealthier, many roof planting and thermal mass. Although the
younger people prefer to build concrete structures houses are low-cost they are sufficiently modern to
where there is a large increase in energy usage and be attractive to the local people. Innovative solar
pollution, valuable farm land is used and there are energy systems and natural ventilation methods
impacts on the natural ecosystem. have been successfully introduced whilst still
retaining the traditional arched yaodong front
Key features which has cultural significance.
Starting with a pilot project of 85 houses in
Zaoyuan village (1996-2001), the project has now The sense of cultural continuity is very important.
seen the development of over 1,000 dwellings by Surveys have shown that the residents feel that
families using self-help construction methods the new yaodong is not something imposed on
in both rural and suburban areas. In addition, a them from the outside, but rather it has grown
private real-estate developer has built a further out of their lives and is a continuity of their
1,200 dwellings plus two large hotels. building tradition. Local people are involved
throughout the design and construction process
The new housing design is based on the traditional and friends and neighbours of the residents help
design but increases the one-storey yaodong to build the houses, using traditional building skills.
two-stories and includes a sunspace at the front

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Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

The residents subjective opinion of the new from 10 to 15 degrees at midday) and indoor
dwelling and involvement in the design and daylight levels and ventilation are much
construction process is considered to be an improved in the new buildings.
important aspect of the sustainability of the
housing, of equal importance as the energy- and Lessons Learned
pollution-saving aspects. Residents need to be advised on how to take
greatest advantage of the new dwellings and
Innovative Aspects demonstration houses are important in winning
Establishing a new typology for the rural over local residents to new design ideas. An
population that is connected to local and entirely local design process is impossible
traditional roots, but that meets changing social because residents equate modern, non-local
and economic circumstances and expectations. building materials with progress and an increase
in status.
Use of two-storey construction rather than
single-storey in order to increase the amount of Ecological principles need to be applied
functional space available. differently in urban and rural areas since there is
greater emphasis in the rural areas on retaining
Zero consumption of energy for heating, some of the traditional design values. High
ventilation and air conditioning due to the tech solutions and expensive methods are not
use of thermal mass, solar energy and natural appropriate in these rural areas. Promoting low-
ventilation systems. tech solutions will not win local residents over
Recognition of the value of the residents input unless there is a significant increase in living
into the design and construction process. conditions (WHA, 2006).
Environmental monitoring found that indoor
temperatures are higher on average by five
degrees in the new buildings (i.e. increasing

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Improved traditional housing Sustainably sourced timber, along with other locally
in Papua New Guinea sourced material, is used throughout the project
with an emphasis on affordability, durability
Joint work between Community Based and local income generation opportunities. In
Building Program Ltd, SPK Projects, addition housing for low-income earners, the
Niugini Works, and Assa project included high-income houses in an effort
Papua New Guinea to increase the status of traditional design with
lower income earners. The natural materials used
Traditional design and construction systems have and designs developed are appropriate for the
been adapted to meet modern housing needs in climatic conditions and produce a healthy living
Papua New Guinea. environment compared to the air-conditioned
houses that are built otherwise. Traditional building
skills are retained and enhanced through the
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is located in the
building process and through general confidence
Pacific Ocean and with a population of seven
and capacity building.
million has a population density of 10 people per
km2. 17 per cent of the population live in urban
areas. The vast majority of housing in PNG is
rural housing on traditional land. Other housing
types are government housing for teachers etc., Environmental sustainability
urban squatter settlements and private housing.
Design of houses using traditional methods provide
In general, both housing finance and land are very a naturally cool house, excluding the need for air
difficult to obtain. Although PNG possesses a rich conditioning
traditional building heritage suited to the local Dry composting toilets
material base, climate, skills base, economy and
Solar power
way of life, this is increasingly being supplanted by
Rain water harvesting
an imported modern architecture that is unfamiliar
Natural, local, sustainably sourced materials
to the local way of life, often very expensive and
prone to rapid deterioration due to poor design Financial sustainability
and inappropriate materials choice. Costs are reduced beyond half the price of non-
traditional housing with imported materials and
Project Description methods
The aim of the project was to develop a new and Labour (building and material supply) contribution
constantly evolving form of housing for Papua New from occupants
Guinea which maintains the inherent traditional Social & cultural sustainability
architecture that is climatically, culturally,
Residents play and active role in the planning and
economically and ecologically appropriate and
building process
sustainable. Furthermore to meet the modern
New approach is taken to culturally sensitive,
housing need the housing must be competitive
traditional methods of construction for housing.
with modern methods and easily taught, learned
and replicated.

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Residents were involved as key participants in

the development process. Each housing project
is designed with extensive end user consultation
through a workshop process. Workshops were
first held at the pattern level, i.e. looking at what
in general a house in this area should be like and
secondly with the residents as part of the detailed
design process. This approach has also been used
for schools and other community buildings in the
Papua New Guinea.

Innovative Aspects
The Assai design philosophy is to preserve and Use of traditional architecture as a prime driver
adapt the traditional building culture in the face of for design and construction.
modernisation and inappropriate western housing
models. The approach used by Assai was to analyse Focus on developing a sustainable and
traditional PNG architecture, to understand and appropriate language of design and system of
maintain its value and change it only where it is construction.
necessary to respond to new demands for mosquito Emphasis upon affordability, durability and
proofing, cleanliness, electricity, water, sanitation, build-ability.
privacy and the car. As an example, iron roofs
replaced the traditional thatch roofing whilst Involvement of residents as key participants in
retaining the original form and slope to provide the development process.
shade, rain shedding and a cooling air volume for Adoption of an open and inclusive philosophy
the interior. The iron roof allows for rainwater towards knowledge exchange and intellectual
harvesting and is longer lasting than the thatch property.
roofs which are flammable and susceptible to
vermin. Another key feature of the design includes Sources: WHA, 2003; UN-Habitat, 2012a

single lined wall frames with a latticed infilling

which allow an increased amount of light into the
house for important tasks.

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Tiny house villages for USAs homeless renters in the United States that earn extremely
low income (30 percent of the median or less),
Newfield, NY; Olympia, WA; Madison, WI; Eugene, there are only 30 affordable apartments available.
OR; Austin, TX USA In the USA homelessness can be seen in every
A collaboration between the housed and the city while typical houses are some of the largest in
unhoused providing stable, safe, and sustainable the world. The tiny house movement is growing
places to live through alternative, cost-effective in many areas throughout the USA providing
approaches for transitioning the unhoused to more people with significantly reduced construction
permanent living situations (Opportunity Village, and living costs. Whereas, for example, the typical
Eugene). development for low-income housing is around
$200,000 per unit in Washington State, these small
Context homes are a fraction of that cost. Also as a result of
More than 3.5 million people experience the size and shared amenities, carbon emissions are
homelessness in the United States of America each also reduced.
year. Shortages of low-income housing continue to
be a major challenge. For every 100 households of

Newfield, NY; Olympia, WA; Madison, WI; Eugene, OR; Austin, TX USA

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Project details
In a number of cities throughout the USA religious
Environmental sustainability
and other non-profit organisations are building
Composting toilet small homes for the homeless people in their cities.
Solar power This is being done without financial help from the
Onsite vegetable garden and chick coop local authorities, i.e. taxpayer money (with the
Communal washing facilities reduce water heating exception of Olympia).
Financial sustainability
Innovative Aspects
Land, materials and labour donated.
Small space to heat
Onsite vegetables and eggs help occupants raise
Communally focussed housing with gardening
inexpensive food space (innovative for the USA)
Extremely low rent, e.g. $90 a month for a 150 sqft The residents in the developments have a
home to $375 for 400 sqft. common space with shared showers, a laundry,
Social & cultural sustainability garden space, and a kitchen (amenities vary
Communally located for support and social by project). By sharing these amenities, the
interaction community was able to increase the affordability
Skills development occupants are assisted in of the project and design a neighbourhood they
construction process believed would fit their needs and make them
Residents are required to avoid drugs and alcohol more self-sufficient.
and help maintain the properties.

Table 5.2 Case study details of four developments (Lundahl, 2014).

Newfield, NY Olympia, WA Madison, WI Austin, TX

Residents 18 30 15 200

Houses 18 30 11 undecided

Cost per house $12,000 +labour $87,500 $5,000 $30,000

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In Madison the communal building is a Local residents in Madison are concerned about
converted petrol station. the new occupants moving in across the street
because of commonly held misunderstandings
Challenges about the homeless.
The project in Olympia was held up in court
for a year by a local organization of businesses Lessons Learned
and landowners called the Industrial Zoning Having hundreds of residents get to know people
Preservation Association, which cited concerns that were homeless made a huge difference in
over the potential impact on local businesses in the success of the project in Olympia.
a nearby industrial park.
Sources: Lundahl, 2014; Opportunity Village Eugene, 2014;
Community First!, 2014; Occupy Madison, n.d.

Lisnahull Terrace, Dungannon - Irelands

first certified Social Passive Housing
Oaklee Homes Group
Dungannon, Northern Ireland, UK
Lisnahull Terrace, Dungannon are amongst the most
energy efficient homes in Northern Ireland. The
innovative development is the first social houses to
be built and certified Passivhaus.

The UK is legally obligated to meet an 80%
carbon reduction by 2050, in the domestic sector;
this means all new housing must be zero carbon
from 2016. Building regulations have been slowly
notching up toward that goal since 2006. For the
social housing developer, Oaklee, this meant all
new homes had to be designed to meet a number
of standards: in addition to planning and building
regulations they had to achieve Level 4 of The Code
Dungannon, Northern Ireland, UK.
for Sustainable Homes, Lifetimes Homes, Secured
by Design and meet Northern Ireland Department
for Social Development (NI DSD) Guidelines.

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therefore orientated along an east-west axis to

ensure that one facade would be facing directly
Environmental sustainability south to maximise solar gains and accommodate
Triple glazed doors and windows, solar shading solar panels. Car parking and the front covered
brise soliel on large south facing windows to entrance from the Lisnahull Road face north with
minimise overheating, low U-values on all external limited windows to this elevation. The development
elements, continuous insulation, structural consists of two house types - three 5 person/3 bed
insulated panels and foamglass blocks at junctions
and two 6 person/4 bed terraced houses.
to avoid thermal bridging, airtight sealing,
mechanical ventilation with heat recovery The Department for Social Development is
Solar passive design: all services and circulation responsible for tackling fuel poverty and the
located on north side of building, with habitable Lisnahull project will be used to provide practical
rooms on south.
learning for future social housing developments.
Solar hot water system
Financial sustainability Challenges and lessons learned
Reduced energy bills through reduced need for It has been well established that occupant
heating and lighting. behaviour can create a scenario where designed
expectations are never achieved; if tenants fail to
use their homes as designed then the potential
Oaklee was well equipped to meet the challenge as financial savings will not be achieved. Occupants
they developed the first homes in Northern Ireland do need a reasonable level of understanding of a
to Level 4 of The Code for Sustainable Homes and Passivhaus building in order to optimise comfort
was at design stage with properties elsewhere to and performance, however as the tenants were
meet Code Level 5. The Lisnahull site is on the selected from the Northern Ireland common
western outskirts of Dungannon was an area with waiting list lifestyles and environmental awareness
high housing need. etc. could not be factored into the selection
process. Whilst this could be viewed in a negative
Northern Ireland experiences the highest level way and as a potential risk to the schemes success,
of fuel poverty in the United Kingdom with it also has a number of benefits, primarily a realistic
households spending significantly more of their view on how a home is lived in and experienced.
disposable income on energy costs. For social A number of means were used in order to reduce
housing tenants, in particular, rising energy costs the risk surrounding tenant lifestyles, for example:
can have a disproportionately devastating effect.
A pre-allocation information meeting for those
Project details tenants on the waiting list
The site was ideally suited to passive design in that
Advanced opportunity to view the homes
the homes could be planned on a south facing plot
with deciduous trees along the southern boundary Pre-handover viewing
which would help with shading. The terrace was

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Tenant User Guides and posters in each home Evaluation

Oaklee Homes Group successfully applied for
Industry Open Day
funding from the Technology Strategy Board
Follow up support through their Building Performance Evaluation
One particular challenge was the language barrier Competition and received funding for monitoring
with only two of the five families having English the Lisnahull development as part of both Phase
as their first language. Interpreters were used on a 1 (Post Completion and Early Occupancy) and
number of occasions and at times communication Phase 2 (In Use and Post Occupancy) studies. The
had to be via family members acting as translators. study period will last for over two years.

In monitoring a serious challenge for the developer The study of these homes will include analysis and
was with unregulated energy loads. Though testing of, design reviews and thermal imaging,
through the Passivhaus Standard the goal is to commissioning process and effectiveness, the
meet a total energy demand for appliances, hot provision of extensive monitoring and metering
water, and space heating and cooling at or below with regular reports on performance, including
120 kWh/m2 per year, occupants may use any and areas such as energy use, temperature, humidity,
as much energy for unregulated energy loads, e.g. and CO2 levels. There are also qualitative surveys,
televisions, computers, fish and reptile tanks, etc. interviews and questionnaires, carried out as part
of the study with residents providing feedback on
their homes.
Sources: Constructing Excellence in NI, n.d.; Gallagher, n.d.

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Passive Solar Housing in the Cold Desert of which facilitates disease transmission and the use
the Indian Himalayas of stoves aggravates respiratory infections. Large
intergenerational households are not uncommon,
Groupe Energies Renouvelables, with 15 members sometimes living in one house.
Environnement et Solidarites (GERES India)
The target population is individuals living with less
Kargill District; Leh District,
than one dollar a day. Scarcity of local fuel and the
Western Indian Himalayas
high price of imported fossil fuels have resulted in
Technical innovation in the use of energy efficiency a situation of energy vulnerability. Women and
techniques, which combine passive solar features, children spend almost two months a year gathering
thermal mass and thermal insulation with local dung and bushes in pastureland. Very few activities
materials are possible during winter, even indoors, due to
the cold temperatures, however, the region benefits
Context from strong sunlight for more than 300 days per
The Western Himalayas is a cold desert with year.
300,000 inhabitants living in high altitude
villages. Natural resources are very limited and Key features
local employment focuses primarily on livestock The passive solar housing technologies used in
breeding and subsistence agriculture. During the this programme of new housing construction
winter, temperatures generally fall below -20C. and retrofitting include solar gain (direct gain,
Traditional houses are built of wood and stone and solar wall, attached greenhouse), thermal mass
are thermally inefficient, with room temperatures and insulation (window, wall, floor and roof ).
falling below -10C in winter. Family members In the passive solar houses, the average indoor
tend to live together in one room in winter temperature remains continuously above 5C as

Solar wall in Kargil District. Direct Gain in Leh District.

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opposed to -10C in unimproved houses. Fuel

consumption has reduced by 50 to 60 per cent. The
Environmental sustainability average cost of installing energy efficiency features
Passive solar construction techniques is US$955 and households provide approximately
Locally available and renewable insulation US$610 (64 per cent) of this in cash and kind
materials: sawdust, straw and wild grass through local materials, casual labour, part of
Greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 2.5 kgCO2 the skilled labour, and part of the cash materials.
per household per year (1.3 tonnes of biomass per Benefits include improved comfort, more social
household per year saved) visits, time saving, easier education and improved
Financial sustainability health. Local people have been trained in income
At the end of the project it is expected that the
generating skills which include local handicrafts.
trained, skilled artisans (in solar passive design,
masonry and insulation) will be able to generate Impact
income independently as their technical skills As a result of the project, people have the benefit
and marketing competencies will be sufficiently of a warmer and healthier indoor environment
developed to continue without external support and they are able to earn more money in the
Cost savings from more efficient homes winter months.
Less time spent collecting biomass for heating
There is a broader awareness of environmental
translated to more time for income generating
issues due to the large media campaigns on both
energy efficiency and climate change.
Social & cultural sustainability

Community buildings have been provided using the

Development of a first draft of the energy
same techniques efficient building code has been submitted to
Twelve grassroots-level networks have been the national Ministry for New and Renewable
established to date consisting of village Energy as well as to the Local Authorities.
representatives, masons and carpenters who
work together to promote passive solar housing. Innovative Aspects
In addition to encouraging participation, the Technical innovation in the use of energy
networks act as a pressure group to advocate for efficiency techniques, which combine passive
improved local government policy in respect of solar features, thermal mass and thermal
renewable energy. insulation with local materials.
Less time spent collecting biomass for heating
translated to more time spent in community
Ensuring sustainability by training local masons
improvement and social activities and carpenters in energy efficient construction
techniques: 215 local masons and carpenters
have been trained and over 460 artisans have
been provided with training to improve income
generation skills.

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Lessons Learned Design and planning

Dynamic and convinced masons are key If relocating, location in areas well served
elements in the projects success, as they become by transportation is important for access to
promoters of the concept and future sustainable potential work, schools, and healthcare.
Serious consideration for upgrades must be
It is easier to generate demand for solar gain made when bringing occupants out of slums
techniques (visible and fashionable) than or conditions where they were not previously
insulation techniques. responsible for fuel, water or sewage bills.
Promotion of passive solar housing through Keep the design simple but adaptable and
radio programmes is extremely effective. flexible; test the designs on various sites to ensure
they can respond to differing site contexts.
Constant monitoring of the construction
process, whilst time-consuming, is essential to Always speak with clients about life cycle costs,
ensure good quality work. not just the initial costs of construction.

Transfer To ensure successful passive design, it is best

Spontaneous demands for passive solar houses to imagine the home will have no power.
from outside the project villages have already Understand the sun, wind and light of the site.
emerged in the area, from individuals, NGOs For participation with residents to be effective,
and local governments. it is vital to involve them at the earliest possible
Extensive documentation about passive solar stage (design brief ) and to use design teams who
housing has been created and distributed in have the willingness and necessary skills to work
many local and foreign languages, as well as well with residents.
being available online (WHA, 2011a). Team work is vital to overcome technical as well
as non-technical resistance to change.
Summary: learning from the
Residents when given more choice are generally
case studies only interested in aspects which provide an
Every project is different and every project needs immediate payback; this can be addressed
special analysis, not only in respect of the site through discussion and training on wider
capacity but also in terms of future users of the environmental issues.
buildings. It is essential to involve tenants in all Unseen or unfashionable material or methods
discussions at every stage, in order to ensure that require more effort in convincing occupants of
they have maximum information on how to best uptake or acceptance.
use and live in the dwellings and thus maximise
their energy savings and future prospects.

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Locally sourced, traditional materials and Collaborative teams are hard to manage - give
methods (hopefully not unfashionable) are each member of the team a voice, and something
often inherently environmentally, financially, they can directly impact.
and culturally sustainable and lend themselves
to further financial and social sustainability by Handover, performance and beyond
allowing the local residents to learn to build with If occupants are not intimately involved in the
local materials. Involving locals in the design and planning and construction of the homes they
construction of their own community enables will at least need to be trained one-on-one to
them to promote sustainable materials and understand any strategies or technologies that
methods and apply their new skills elsewhere, may be unfamiliar. In addition manuals or
adding workforce to the new green jobs market. guidance notes are suggested. Never handover
a building, especially with new technologies,
A holistic approach, e.g. area clean up, local without ensuring that occupants are comfortable
food production involvement, sanitation with the new home. Handover can require
improvement, creating less dependency on city multiple visits to guarantee smooth operation
provided resources and occupant involvement and satisfaction.
in all stages creates greater buy in and pride
in a newly created green social housing place. An occupancy review is essential in order
This is most successfully demonstrated through to assess the operation of the building post-
the Cato Manor Green Street project in South occupancy and to understand how the building
Africa. performs compared to expectations.
A high-performance envelope (a lot of insulation
with durable finishes) is money well spent.
Demonstration or mock-ups of housing units
can be helpful in convincing residents to Important lessons are always learned from
accept new ideas and in assisting builders in evaluating the performance of the building and
understanding new construction methods or listening to occupants experience.
working with new materials As with public leadership programs (support,
Involvement of the future occupants in the information and voluntary action), the
planning and building process has been shown evaluation, dissemination and advertising of
to be crucial in the success of a number of success and methods in green social housing
projects: Involvement gives occupants the sense projects can result in successful policy changes
of ownership, provides skills and ensures a level locally. Refer to the example of the passivhaus
of understanding in what they will be receiving. development in Ljubljana where following
the success of the project, local legislation
Low-tech solutions ease self-help and mutual
requires that all new private and public
help in the building process and encourage
building be designed to a low energy standard
transfer to future local projects.
and incorporate renewable energy sources.
Specifically in Slovenia, the transfer of ideas were

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carried out through exhibitions, guided tours, think the government is the opponent, forcing
presentations, workshops, the development of then to live in houses that are not suited to their
an educational programme for social housing needs.
companies and a practical guidebook for
Multi-stakeholder approach: Failure can
social housing companies on energy intelligent
occur by not involving local stakeholders in
the process. Stakeholders such as, those in
the private sector, NGOs and the recipients
Causes for failure of some members, all have something to contribute to
sustainable social housing projects the longevity and success of a project.
Why social housing projects fail, lessons learned
from Haiti (Vazquez, 2014): Performance gap in four low carbon
housing developments in England, UK
Cost of living: People living in slums do
not have energy or water bills and are not UK is legally obligated to meet an 80% carbon
accustomed to paying for these amenities. Even reduction by 2050, in the domestic sector; this
when the new housing may be provided for free, means all new housing must be zero carbon from
utility services such as electricity, gas, water or 2016. Since 2006 the Government has set ambitious
waste disposal can create financial problems targets for incremental changes to building
for the occupants if they are not considered regulatory standards by the implementation of
appropriately. sustainable design principles and micro-generation
Location: Social housing projects fail when
they are built too far from town without regular In contrast to a green housing development
and affordable transportation links. Social in a developing country where a significant
housing occupants must have easy access to achievement is reached by countering misplaced
social facilities, such as schools, health clinics, modern or synthetic methods of construction
and economic centres. through local methods and materials and increased
insulation, social housing in developed countries
Suitability: Inappropriate design for climate must reduce energy consumption from high levels
or cultural expression can cause failure. Local where these modern methods are the convention.
understanding is essential for the design of Where there is more energy consumption that
social housing. must be reduced, there is often, in developed
Role of the government: The government can countries, more technology involved and therefore
fail the social housing recipients by not asking more expectations to deliver results. The UK
about and not listening to the needs of the future Governments Technology Strategy Board (TSB)
occupants. Typically governments provide has been funding the building performance
solutions that do not work, the government evaluations (BPE) studies of a number of low
does not understand why the citizens will not carbon social housing developments throughout
live in the housing provided and the citizens the UK to evaluate the actual energy and

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environmental performance of the dwellings both but Case C would have a HLC compliant with
from a technical and occupants perspective. The 2010 Building Regulations (baseline standard for
physical characteristics and sustainability features all homes) and only Case B would achieve CSH
of four selected case studies from the TSB - BPE Level 6.
programme are listed in table 5.3.
Air permeability tests revealed a noteworthy gap
between designed and actual air tightness in the
Causes for the performance gap: homes. The greatest concern is in Case D, where
discrepancies in built performance both homes missed the target by a large amount,
The fabric performance for each housing especially Case D.2 with air permeability over
development was evaluated using a range of twice as high as expected (figure 5.3). Case B,
diagnostic field tests which include: a whole house however, performed exceptionally. The results
heat loss test (co-heating test1), air permeability achieved by Case B undoubtedly benefited from
test2 and infrared thermography3. the extensive modification to the original design
in response to concern for thermal bridges and air
The findings from the BPE projects showed that tightness during prototyping and design review. In
overall there is a gap between the regulatory design Cases A, C and D, better air tightness would have
compliance calculations pertaining to predicted resulted from a higher quality of detailing at key
Heat Loss Coefficients (HLC) and the actual junctions, skirtings and service penetrations (figure
measured HLC. For Cases A, B and C this gap 5.4). Specifically, for Case D air leakage was found
is relatively small compared to the homes in Case in a number of places: through penetrations in
D. Case D had serious issues with detailing and ground floor bathrooms, electrical cupboard, solar
higher U-values than designed. Figure 5.2 shows and MVHR cupboards, below skirting boards and
the predicted and measured Heat Loss Parameter around external doors on the ground floor. All
(HLP) for each case study home and compared cases would have benefited from more detailed care
them to UK regulatory standards. The HLP is around door and window thresholds and seals and
the HLC normalised against the area of the home service penetrations. The roof gables also proved to
so that the values can be comparable. All homes be weak points for some homes. Air permeability
test failures can result in delayed handover, time
1 Co-heating testing is a post-completion test that is
designed to quantify as-built whole building heat loss and payment disputes and costly remedial works.
in a completed unoccupied house. The heat loss is sub- Some air leakage pathways are extremely difficult
categorised by fabric (including thermal bridging) and
ventilation heat loss measured as the Heat Loss Coefficient
and expensive to fix.
(HLC) (W/K).
2 Air permeability tests or blower door tests are performed
before and after the co-heating test to help establish the
air permeability and the heat loss due to air infiltration
and exfiltration through the building fabric alone.
Ventilation routes such as mechanical ventilation heat
recovery (MVHR) units are sealed during the tests.
3 Infrared thermography visually renders thermal radiation
from building elements helping locate heat related
construction faults and leakage.

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Table 5.3 Overview of case study characteristics and specifications

Case study A Case study B Case study C Case study D

Small private Volume House Volume House Social housing / Local

developer builder builder authority

Joint venture between Collaboration between Design for Manufacture

landowners and volume house builder competition aimed at Low energy, social housing
Process sustainable developer UK Government funded sustainable, efficient development funded by
Carbon Challenge and cost effective local authority
Sold to occupants Programme developments

No. of bedrooms, three bed, two bed, three bed, three bed,
house type mid-terrace semi-detached end-terrace end / mid-terrace

Structural Insulated Panels Structural Insulated Panels a timber frame and cast
Construction type timber frame const ruction
(SIP) (SIP) hempcrete

No. of case study

1 1 1 2
houses studied

Target design rating CSH1 Level 5 CSH Level 6 EcoHomes Excellent CSH Level 6

Walls: Rendered / wood Walls: Rendered SIPs, Walls: Brick, rendered Walls: Rendered
clad timber frame, U-value: 0.12 block, cedar cladding on hempcrete cast into
U-value: 0.16 Roof: SIPS, U-value: 0.12 SIPs, U-value: 0.21 timber frame, U-value:
Main construction Roof: Pantile on timber, Roof: Concrete/clay tiles 0.18
elements (as Ground floor: Screed
U-value: 0.14 over insulation on beam on SIPs panels, U-value: Roof: Tile on timber,
designed) 0.23 U-value: 0.15
Ground floor: Sealed and block, U-value: 0.19
timber floor, U-value: Windows: Wood frame, Ground floor: Screed Ground floor: Screed over
0.15 triple / double glazing over insulation on beam insulation on beam and
U-values W/m2K Windows: Wood frame, mix, U-value: 0.9/ 1.4 and block, U-value: 0.2 block, U-value: 0.12
triple glazing, U-value: Windows: Wood frame, Windows: PVC, double
0.9 double glazing, U-value: glazing, U-value: 1.3/1.8

Wood pellet burner Communal gas CHP (hot Exhaust Air Heat Pump
Space heating and with radiators and solar water distributed through Gas boiler with (EAHP); under floor heating
hot water system collectors and 300 litre underground district conventional radiators coils and 4m2 vacuum tube
thermal store heating network) heat pipe solar collectors

Target Air tightness

5 1 5 2
(m3/h/m2 @50Pa)

Mechanical extract
Mechanical ventilation with Mechanical ventilation with ventilation (MEV) through
Ventilation strategy MEV
heat recovery (MVHR) heat recovery (MVHR) Exhaust Air Heat Pump
Renewables 2 kWpk Photovoltaic - - 4 kWpk Photovoltaics
2500 litre store/house Common collector - -

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Figure 5.2 Heat loss parameter for tested case study homes compared to UK
regulatory standards

Case A

Case B

Case C

Case D, house 1

Case D, house 2

2010 UKBR

CSH Code
Level 6
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.6

Heat loss Parameter W/m K 2

Projected Measured

Figure 5.3 Air permeability for tested case study homes compared to practice

Case A

Case B

Case C

Case D, house 1

Case D, house 2

UKBR standard
good practice
EST best practice


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Air permeability m3/h/m2 @50Pa
Projected Measured

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Figure 5.4 Thermographic images of heat loss through the floor / wall junction of
the party wall in Case A (left) and heat loss through the parapet junction of
the party wall in Case C (right).

Note: the left image shows unfinished skirting board along the floor.

Table 5.4 details a list of other issues leading to the performance gap found through building performance

Table 5.4 Examples of findings from BPE regarding specific areas of evaluation

Case A Case B Case C Case D

Systems Commissioning failure: MVHR found to have Ventilation flow rates are Heating controls and
installation and MEV was found to be an imbalance between lower than recommended zone thermostats not
commissioning delivering inadequate supply and extract of up due to flexible ductwork connected, incorrectly
air flow rates (below to 30% and commissioning was installed (first floor
regulations) incorrectly performed. heating inoperable)

Design and No control for changing MVHR controls unclear Location of MVHR boost Two conflicting control
installation ventilation rates. and difficult to operate; switch inaccessible and approaches for the house:
of control little indication of system non-compliant with masterstat and room
interfaces response Building Regulations thermostat

Handover to Lack of feedback in Responsibility for the Explanations of the Home user guide would
occupants all stages; one sided handover was not MVHR, ventilation have benefited from
handover (no interaction defined. The developer and heating controls more clarity simplicity
with occupants) expected individual contained errors and and diagrams (apart from
suppliers to carry out did not demonstrate this, Case D was relatively
handovers of their maintenance procedures successful in handover)
systems. e.g. filter replacement

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Case A Case B Case C Case D

Occupant Occupants feel they have N/A Poor thermal comfort: Poor acoustic
survey and little control over heating too hot in summer and performance of party
interviews and ventilation, poor cold in winter, dry in both walls; Privacy conflict with
access to controls seasons; All occupants full height windows in
report overheating in bedrooms; High ceilings
summer caused problems for
cleaning and operation of
roof lights.

Note: this table is not exhaustive

The evidence for the performance gap gathered result of initial miscommunication in the design
across a variety of built forms and modern and planning phase, last minute client misgivings
construction systems show that while certain or a design compromise in response to limited
discrepancies may have begun due to a particular knowledge of subcontractors et al. Table 5.5 lists
briefing, construction, specification or design some common causes behind performance gap
error, the extent of the resultant performance gap which were shared between most cases and are
is either amplified or alleviated by the effectiveness notable causes for the performance gap. As of
of the troubleshooting response from the design early 2014 the owners of case study D (the local
team, construction team or developer. A common authority) is in the process of removing the EAHP
theme between all case study developments is the (the heating system) from the homes due to
difficulty caused by post-design, mid-construction difficulty with the systems operation, maintenance
changes to the homes. These changes can be a and delivery of expected results.

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Table 5.5 Common emerging issues between case study developments

Case A Case B Case C Case D

Construction faults as a result of post-design changes

Inadequate or poorly detailed insulation and air tightness at junctions

Greater heat loss through party walls than predicted N/A

Inadequate installation and commissioning of systems

Controls not accessible, non-ergonomic or difficult to understand

Occupant dissatisfaction with provision for storage N/A

Note: N/A indicates that the issue was not measured or data was inconclusive. Though occupant dissatisfaction with storage
space is not directly linked to the overall carbon emissions of a building it is a recurring theme in developments. Indirect
problems may occur as in Case C, the MVHR cupboard is doubling as storage space and being overwhelmed with occupant
belongings, limiting access to the unit.

Much of the issues listed above are the result of work in progress and to ensure coordination and
communication drawbacks. These are a result met expectations, it is vital that project teams
of weaknesses in drawn communication of stay engaged after practical completion to hand-
intention, communication of expectations (e.g. is hold clients (occupants) during the initial period
the construction team capable of working with a of occupation, and to stay involved for up to
specified material or installing equipment), onsite three years providing professional aftercare, and
evaluation of work done and communication of for documenting the lessons learned for future
expectation for improvement. To evaluate the development (Gupta et al., 2013).

Green building interventions for social housing 111


Conclusions and Overall work on green building is progressing
in developing countries. However barriers to
recommendations increasing the take-up of green social housing exist
in both developing and developed nations. Some
common barriers to effective implementation of
green social housing include: perception of capital
The provision of affordable (social or public cost versus unfamiliarity with life-cycle costs
housing) homes is an issue of profound and life-cycle performance, tendency to develop
international importance. Solutions must be standard regional and national solutions - without
found to address the crisis of affordable housing localised focus, incongruent economic interests.
which also acknowledges the parallel crisis Policy driven demand for green buildings has the
of climate change. Sustainable urbanization potential to open up the market for green jobs
and skill sets in the short term (fiscal stimulus)
therefore needs affordable, adequate and green
and create new markets in the long term. The
housing in order to respond to the global rapid
construction sector, as a key enabler of economic
population growth especially in the low-income
growth, has a large impact on the labour market.
housing areas of countries. Responses to this
Green growth is likely to create new green jobs,
problem have to be holistic, multi-level and
reduce brown sector jobs and lead to a greening
interdisciplinary, and must acknowledge local of existing jobs. Training and awareness initiatives
cultural, economic, legislative and environmental will be key steps to this transition, providing an
factors (UN-Habitat, 2012a). opportunity to engage with the informal sector
and improve working conditions and inspection
approaches (UNEP SBCI, 2009a).

Green housing design requires careful consideration

of often overlooked design steps such as building
orientation, thermal mass, shading and type
of materials used. Material use can impact the
environment before, during and after use of the
Ch a pter 06: Co n c lu si o ns a n d rec o mmend ati o n s

material. Evaluation of the construction process Failure to develop and build sustainably at
and building performance in-use is essential to both urban and building level will lock-in
help shape future policies and practices; create disadvantages of poorly performing (energy,
evidence base for promoting green buildings and to personal wealth, health, comfort, etc.) buildings
help secure funding for exemplar projects. Impact as energy costs increase and the climate changes.
evaluation can have varying complexities and focus
The following policy instruments have been
on environmental, social, economic and cultural
rated highly in policy reviews (Urge-Vorsatz et
aspects, however the three key evaluation criteria
al., 2007; UNEP, 2009) in both effectiveness to
recommended initially are energy use, comfort
reduce GHG emissions and cost effectiveness to
and occupant feedback.
Every social housing project will be different and economic incentives: tax exemptions/
needs careful analysis, not only in respect of the reductions for sustainable building and
site capacity but also in terms of future users of practices;
the buildings. Through case study analysis, it has
overwhelmingly been proven to be essential to support, information and voluntary action:
involve tenants in all discussions at every stage, public leadership programmes; and
in order to ensure that they have maximum regulatory and control mechanisms (e.g.
information on how to best use and live in the more progressive building regulations).
dwellings and thus maximise their energy savings
Combining regulations and incentives with
and future prospects.
measures to attract attention such as information
or public leadership programs have the highest
6.1 Key messages and potential to reduce GHG emissions (Warren,
recommendations 2007). Incentives are required to break the
cost barrier and increase the acceptability and
Key recommendations for policy-makers use of sustainable approaches to design and
The building sector, particularly social housing,
provides the opportunity to explore green Building regulations should be carefully assessed
building practices and significantly reduce and reviewed periodically (including after
GHG emissions through cost-effective means research, testing and development) for barriers
while providing much needed housing in a to green practices or material use.
healthy and sustainable manner. Where regulations are in an advanced stage
Local or national emission reduction targets and incentives are also being used to increase
cannot be met without supporting the energy green social housing growth, post-occupation
efficiency and sustainable progress in the evaluation and monitoring should also at least
building sector. be incentivised, or at best be required. As an
example, where sustainability certification is

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awarded, it should be limited to homes that access work opportunities, schools, healthcare
have had BPE/diagnostics demonstrating and other amenities.
success (Gupta et al., 2013).
Government support and leadership is Key recommendations for developers
essential for any significant sustainable For a sustainable approach to be successful, it
change: Government will need to take is important to have a clear idea about habits,
a proactive role and provide adequate lifestyles and preferences of future occupants
support through policy and technical means so as to define applicable solutions and realistic
to local authorities when implementing responses to actual needs.
programmes, supported by cooperating
Planning and implementation of sustainable
partners. In addition, government has the
developments are significantly more effective
capacity and is encouraged to prototype or
when the communities are involved from
demonstrate green building practices and
inception through all phases.
material use either through public or private
buildings to create awareness and inspire the Do not assume that design and planning
same in the private sector. concepts or needs that benefit the general
population will benefit indigenous peoples
There is a need for technical training of
(UN-Habitat, 2011e).
public officers and market actors to ensure
understanding and capacity to implement Life cycle analysis is helpful in quantifying
sustainable technologies, as well as maintain the benefits of green buildings across the
these over the life of the building. life span of the building. Always speak with
investors about life cycle costs, not just the
For a sustainable approach to be successful, it
initial costs of construction.
is important to have a clear idea about habits,
lifestyles and preferences of a society so as If relocating a community, location in areas
to define applicable solutions and realistic well served by transportation is important
responses to actual needs. for access to potential work, schools, and
Do not assume that policies or concepts that
benefit the general population will benefit Serious consideration for upgrades must be
indigenous peoples (UN-Habitat, 2011e). made when bringing occupants out of slums
or conditions where they were not previously
A sustainable approach should be a continuous
responsible for fuel, water or sewage bills.
and growing process to be able to fulfil all
essential objectives; benefiting from previous Involvement of the future occupants in the
success (UNEP, 2013). planning and building process has been shown
to be crucial in the success of a number of
In growing urban locations, incentivise social
projects: Involvement gives occupants the sense
housing development in areas of the city well
of ownership, provides skills and ensures a level
served by transportation so that occupants can
of understanding in what they will be receiving.

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Developers need to share and seek experience. Designers and built environment
This is especially necessary for the smaller professionals
developers that may have less experience and
more to lose. Life cycle analysis is helpful in quantifying
the benefits of green buildings across the
The developer should take the lead on initiating life span of the building. Always speak with
and ensuring communication between all clients or investors about life cycle costs, not
stakeholders. just the initial costs of construction.
If occupants are not intimately involved in the Keep the design simple but adaptable and
planning and construction of the homes they flexible; test the designs on various sites to
will at least need to be trained one-on-one to ensure they can respond to differing site
understand any strategies or technologies that contexts.
may be unfamiliar. In addition manuals or
guidance notes may be needed. In this case, To ensure successful passive design, it is best
create comprehensive and visually diagrammatic to imagine the home will have no power.
guidance for users by referencing best practice Unseen or unfashionable material or methods
guidance and handover processes. require more effort in convincing occupants
For large multi-project developers, an of uptake or acceptance: demonstration or
occupancy review is essential in order to assess mock-ups of housing units can be helpful in
the operation of the building post-occupancy convincing residents to accept new ideas and
and to understand how the building performs in assisting builders in understanding new
compared to expectations. construction methods or working with new
Important lessons are always learned from
evaluating the performance of the building Involvement of the future occupants in
and listening to occupants experience. the planning and building process has
been shown to be crucial in the success of
Monitoring and evaluation of performance a number of projects: Involvement gives
of green buildings in practice and occupants the sense of ownership, provides
reporting and verification of green building skills and ensures a level of understanding in
performance, serves as an effective tool in what they will be receiving.
providing confidence in the outcome and
benefits of green buildings. This, in turn, can Low-tech solutions ease self-help and mutual
be used to influence policy-makers to further help in the building process and encourage
incentivise green social housing (Gupta et al. transfer to future local projects.
2013). Collaborative teams are hard to manage -
give each member of the team a voice, and
something they can directly impact.

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Communication and involvement of you can bring concepts or needs to light of

all parties involved in the design and which developers and designers may not be
construction process (including client aware,
and suppliers) through all stages is highly
reduction in construction costs as a result of
beneficial in delivering green and cost
active participation and building
effective results.
skill development; future placement in green
Green social housing occupants or jobs market
future occupants When confused about how to maximise
Demand green social housing from policy- use of new green home or concerned about
makers and developers when informed that unexpected costs (fuel water bills, etc.), it is
new-build or retrofit will take place in your vital to communicate the issues faced as there
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number of benefits such as:
influence over briefing, design and location

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Green building interventions for social housing 123

Appendix A: Checklist for policy makers

Appendix A: Checklist for policy makers

Social housing provision must be (re)developed How are the Sustainability priorities /
to achieve multiple benefits across the four commitments at the local / city level different,
sustainability dimensions to simultaneously perhaps more progressive than national level?
improve peoples livelihoods, contribute to the
Are there incentives in place to encourage
economy, and enhance the environment. A crucial
builders / developers to go beyond the baseline
aspect is sustainable policy delivery. This relies on a
requirements of the building regulations?
strategic vision and supportive institutions, multi-
stakeholder cooperation, and sustainable sources What are the Sustainability priorities /
of funding all underpinned by appropriate environmental risks at the local / city level?
regulation and capacity building (UN-Habitat, What are the main social challenges for social
2012c). housing users at a local / city level?
Policymakers can use the following questions Do building codes enable the use of traditional
as a checklist to review their programmes and materials and sustainable construction
policies with regard to the provision of affordable, techniques which may reduce embodied energy,
accessible and sustainable housing (UN-Habitat, enable incremental self-help housing and
2012a; UN-Habitat, 2012c; UNEP, 2013): have the capacity to increase social, cultural
What are the Sustainability priorities /
commitments at the National level? Is there wide and open consultation with
multiple stakeholders regarding the development
Does housing policy aim to deal with poverty
of sustainable housing strategies and projects?
reduction, socio-economic development and
climate change simultaneously? Is there local and end-user participation to learn
about and integrate local knowledge, challenges,
Is there a special organisation charged with
culture and traditions?
the responsibility of coordinating sustainable
affordable housing initiatives? Are there educational programmes for green
building skill development?
Is the development of sustainable housing
institutionalised as a long-term sustainable Are monitoring and evaluation encouraged, and
policy and not dependent on change in if so, are the findings being used to quantify and
government? / or market the benefits of sustainable social
Is there a clear housing vision for the country
over a 10-20 year timeframe and key strategic Is there support for campaigns and promotions
objectives? to present alternative ways of building and to
spread the knowledge of sustainable housing

124 Green building interventions for social housing

Appendix A: Checklist for policy makers

Is there a practice of consulting with the local Does social housing policy encourage alternative
community at the design stage to take their access / transportation support, e.g. cycle ways
needs, ideas and preferences into account and pedestrian access?
through such methods as public meetings?
Does social housing policy protect and conserve
Is there follow up in social housing development, existing ecological features including soil,
e.g. carry out a social impact assessment to vegetation, and natural habitats?
study the effects of the project on the existing
Does social housing policy encourage
minimising rainwater runoff, e.g. through
Does social housing policy ensure project avoiding / limiting hard external landscaping?
contribution to the economic and social welfare
Does social housing policy encourage the use of
of the community?
locally sourced, sustainable materials?
Does social housing policy ensure security
Does social housing policy encourage the use of
and crime prevention through community
renewable materials from verifiable sources?
involvement and design principles?
Does social housing policy encourage the use
Does social housing policy encourage (e.g.
of renewable energy sources (e.g. wind, solar,
through incentives) the use of previously
hydro, photovoltaic bank, CHP operating on
developed sites or sites within urban boundaries
biomass or waste) to decrease need for fossil
(thereby reducing green field development
fuels generating CO2 emissions?
and providing access to economic and social
activity)? Does social housing policy encourage the
reduction of water requirement in houses by
Does social housing policy encourage the reuse
using efficient fixtures like low-flow fixtures,
of existing buildings?
Does social housing policy promote a compact,
Does social housing policy encourage harvesting
mixed use neighbourhood and consideration
of rainwater and grey water for use on site?
for the appropriate density for each project

Green building interventions for social housing 125

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