Ecological Living Module: Sustainable Developing Goals start at home

UN Environment and Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture with the support of UN-Habitat, have teamed up to develop an eco-housing module, to highlight the need for innovation and spark public discussion and new ideas on how sustainable design can provide decent, affordable housing while limiting the overuse of natural resources and climate change. Around one billion people worldwide currently live in informal settlements, while millions more live in buildings that are not environmentally friendly. Rapid urbanization and economic growth challenge communities to sustainably expand capacity, heightening the need for innovation in building systems and infrastructure. Engineered to operate independently, the module’s built-in systems include solar energy generation using less than 1 percent of toxic semiconductor materials, on-site water collection, micro agricultural infrastructure, natural day lighting, plant-based air purification, passive cross-ventilation, and a range of flexible, adaptable components for living and working. The first module has been set up at the High-Level Political Forum in New York in July to show people something which is real, which is concrete and brings home the message that affordable and adequate housing can be done with all environmental features being respected as well. People usually think that environmental features add some cost and therefore cannot be affordable, this project wants to prove this is not true. The second phase of this project includes the design and building of an eco-housing module adapted to the East Africa socio-economic and climatic context. In December, UN Environment and UN-Habitat have again joined hands to organize a participatory workshop under the lead of Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture with representatives from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania Architecture Universities to explore needs and opportunities. Outcomes of this workshop will be presented at the Fourth UN Environment Assembly. It will include an exhibit with real life structures as a way to engage people, and brand it as a ‘collective design’ opportunity as well as a first modelization of the East African Ecological Living Module.

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