Think global – act local

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Think global – act local

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Challenges

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Fast urbanization around the globe is challenging the construction sector at both the global and local scale. Today, buildings and constructions account for 32% of the global energy expenditure and are responsible for 19% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. We are all aware that the situation will worsen significantly in the next decades if we carry on building-as-usual to provide sufficient settlement to the growing population. While the danger of urbanization is a reality, constructions have enormous potentials -largely unrealized by the society- at the local and global level. From our perspective buildings are at the same time a source of challenge and a solution. Indeed, they impact with so many critical areas which are identified by the United Nations as Sustainable Development Goals (among them Climate Action, Infrastructures, Sustainable cities …). The history of architecture has showed that construction materials evolve with the society. We have been developing new technologies for thousands of years and we will continue adapting to new resources and to a new digital world. However how we will do it, will determine our progress toward sustainable development.

The discussion within the group identified that the main obstacles towards sustainable construction fall in three major fields.

 Economic Challenges

  • Corruption in construction industry

  • Affordable sustainable construction

  • Unequal distribution of natural resources between countries

  • Slow implementation of new technologies and innovation in construction industry

Social Challenges

  • Negative mindset on low-carbon, local construction materials or practices: vernacular buildings are seen as buildings for ‘poor’ and new low-cost housing seen as of poor quality

  • Lack of interdisciplinary connections between actors which limits knowledge transfer and development of efficient solutions

  • Lack of awareness on corruption at the society

  • Poverty or unemployment with skills of builders poor and limited

  • Recognition of the engineers: avoid exclusion of key engineers during feasibility studies and issuing of contracts

  • Revision of the curriculum: misalignment with the application on the ground

Environmental Challenges

  • GHG emissions from construction

  • Importation of materials resulting in inefficient application

  • Allocation of financial resources

  • Lack of exploitation of locally available materials

  • Modernization of construction with the use of new technologies

  • Inadequate international standard to many local contexts

  • Tendency of construction sector to promote mainstream solution

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Solving challenges

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With the booming urbanization, construction can be a driving force with a significant positive impact on sustainable development of the countries. From a global economic angle, the construction industry is a dominant force in any nation’s economic growth as a significant contributor to the gross national product. On the environmental global aspect, it is estimated that the building sector can realized the mitigation of the climate change by reducing more than 50% of the energy consumed for buildings. However, we should not forget the huge potential at the local scale.

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The local potentials identified by the working group during the workshop, to help in solving challenges are hereby summarized:

 

  • Sustainable design: it can increase the blend of traditional and conventional building materials. We have the knowledge and the technologies.
  • Natural and local building materials such as hempcrete, cob, earthbags, straw bale construction, construction waste etc. There is a tremendous volume of natural and local materials that are suitable for construction. Why are we limiting ourselves?
  • Leapfrogging technology: urbanization happens in emerging and developing economies where high-carbon and unsustainable construction are not yet dominant, these countries can take a different pathway then westerner countries and leapfrog to sustainable construction methods and materials.
  • Formulating national policies and strategies to implement the adoption of green building materials into the construction industry through the use of incentives and waivers for the industry.
  • Re-thinking bidding process: More open and transparent, encouragement to sustainable construction practices
  • Stage by stage monitoring of construction works which would serve as a check and balance to curtail sharp practices in the industry
  • Engineers! They are key actors towards solving the challenges of the construction.

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The Project

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What it´s about

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The collaboration between the Technical University Munich, Germany and the Forward Step Organization in Bagamoyo, Tanzania has the aim to combine engineering in education and the awareness of building in and for the environment we all live in. For this reason, students of the TUM construct a small shelter-like building together with Tanzanian constructors in a combination of modern concrete building standard and local traditional housing. The shelter is made for dance and educational classes for girls in Bagamoyo who do not have the fortune of steady education, free decision of learning and places to show and feel their emotions. So, this project prospectively shall help both sides: The students shall learn how to build generally and in dependence of the surrounding environment. A new point of view on different cultures, teamwork with them and a successful project moreover shall have an enduring impact on how to think about our environment.

How the project started

In spring 2018, Mareike started her research work at the Technical University Munich on fresh concrete properties. During the research work, she talked to her colleague Wolfram Schmidt from BAM (Bundesanstalt für Materialfroschung und –Prüfung) who researches a lot on sustainable concrete solutions in Africa. When Mareike was interested in helping in random projects, Wolfram sent her the number of Lisa Freudenthal, a choreographer in Cologne.

Lisa needed a new building with a durable floor to perform some dancing projects together with the FSO. The dance projects mostly are for the empowerment of girls – showing creativity, emotions and thoughts through their expression in dancing and performing. Mareike and the FSO then started working on plans and a concept for the application for possible fundings.

The first proposal was finished by July 2018. With this proposal we got a total fund of 10.000€ from the BASF. This covers the costs for the building shell. This means the fundament, floor and walls and roofing.

Currently, an easy roofing already is built to get protection of rain and sun during the educational classes.

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Work

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The collaboration between the Technical University Munich, Germany and the Forward Step Organization in Bagamoyo, Tanzania has the aim to combine engineering in education and the awareness of building in and for the environment we all live in. For this reason, students of the TUM construct a small shelter-like building together with Tanzanian constructors in a combination of modern concrete building standard and local traditional housing. The shelter is made for dance and educational classes for girls in Bagamoyo who do not have the fortune of steady education, free decision of learning and places to show and feel their emotions. So, this project prospectively shall help both sides: The students shall learn how to build generally and in dependence of the surrounding environment. A new point of view on different cultures, teamwork with them and a successful project moreover shall have an enduring impact on how to think about our environment.

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