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Research

Several groups of university students have done research into the impact of Easy Housing. Download their reports or read the summaries below.

Easy Housing: A Solution to Sustainable and Affordable Housing?

In 2020, a group of master students from the Utrecht University conducted academic research on the potential impact of Easy Housing as an international solution for affordable housing. The research can be downloaded below.

Islands Case Study Eramus Students 

A group of five Master students in Sustainable Development at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam did a market assessment for the market potential of several island countries for our concept. Find the results in this report.

Impact Report 2021

A group of six students from Utrecht University did a research project about Easy Housing. They looked into the positive impact that Easy Housing has on the environment, the carbon footprint and the SDGs, compared to traditional buildings. 

Easy Housing: A Solution to Sustainable and Affordable Housing?

Due to a growing population and migration from rural areas into urban areas, many cities are facing a severe shortage of housing, particularly for low- and middle-income earners. This affordable housing gap is especially severe in emerging economies. While the need for housing constitutes a social problem, the construction sector is very resource intensive and has adverse environmental effects. Consequently, there is not only a need for affordable housing but for sustainable and affordable housing. This exploratory research looks into the question, which obstacles the sustainable and affordable housing sector faces in emerging economies. For the assessment, we apply a framework based on the three sustainability dimensions – social, economic and environmental sustainability. The research looks into the housing sector in three different cities, namely Dhaka in Bangladesh, Lagos in Nigeria, and Port-au-Prince in Haiti. For the analysis, we used data from a broader literature search and conducted several interviews with people having experience in the respective cities.

We found that overall, sustainability does not play an important role in affordable housing provision and that its sustainability is severely limited by various issues, like corruption in the housing provision process, a mismatch between the price of housing developments and the actual purchasing power of the target group, a lack of funding and financing opportunities and cultural preferences for resource-intensive material like concrete. Based on our findings, we then look at Easy Housing, a concept that aims to provide a sustainable and affordable solution to housing applicable in various contexts and assess some challenges and opportunities it would face in an emerging economies context.

While there are some similarities that become visible across the three case studies, it also becomes clear that there is no universal answer on how to approach sustainability in an emerging economies context. The whole lifecycle of the Easy Housing concept could not be assessed as it only the sustainability of the structure is ensured while the sustainability of the rest of the process is unclear. The concept has opportunities to offer a short-term solution for housing but in long-term the emphasis should be on local supply chains. Easy housing certainly has potential to fill in the gaps in sustainable and affordable housing in emergent economies, but further research needs to be done on the context of where it will be provided. It should also be noted that sustainability is measured from a Western perspective while the housing and sustainability needs differ among cultures. From empirical data it has become clear that community and collective action is of great importance to take into account. With determination, willingness and a lot of patience to engage in the local communities the concept could be accepted anywhere.

Understanding Sustainability Impacts of Easy Housing Concept in Emerging Countries

Alongside the increasing climate crisis, the housing crisis in emerging countries continues to become a growing concern. The climate and housing crises can be seen as interlinked and the need for more sustainable solutions is urgent.

The human population is growing worldwide which is causing additional challenges and demand for more housing within urban areas. The urbanization rate will continue to increase from 56.2% (4.4 billion) people living in urban areas in 2020 to 68.4% (6.7 billion) by 2050. In addition, research shows that 10% of the world’s energy consumption is used for the manufacturing of the building materials for construction, 40% of the solid waste produced comes from the construction and demolition of buildings within the developed countries and it contributes to 40% of the emitted GHG globally. As a result of the climate crisis, natural disasters are occurring more often and are increasingly damaging to houses. Natural disasters, population growth and urbanization all put immense pressure on the housing sector for more resilient buildings, all while already dealing with the limited availability of adequate housing options.

Therefore, this research report will focus on how a sustainable and affordable housing concept, Easy Housing, can potentially reduce the impact of these two crises. Easy Housing is a carbon-negative, circular and climate resilient building concept that aims to offer a solution to the interlinked climate and housing crises. In total, this research has focused on three factors: CO2 emissions, circular economy and climate resilience. In order to measure (potential) impact on these areas, this research relied on both quantitative as qualitative research and followed a triangulation approach. The SDGs was used as a guiding tool in this paper, meaning that the targeted goals were identified for every focus area and direct impacts on other SDGs were analysed. Lastly, a case study analysis was done on the potential and limitations of the Easy Housing concept in Mozambique.

To increase the credibility and validity of this research, a triangulation of methods was used: (1) desk research, (2) data analysis, and (3) expert interviews. Two concepts which are essential to solve these crises are circular economy and climate resilience. In addition, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) shape most current (inter)national negotiations on environment and development and are important to consider while dealing with both climate and housing crises. The data and information gathered through these two research methods were both for qualitative and quantitative purposes.

The findings have showed that overall Easy Housing could have positive impact on CO2 emissions reduction and circular economy by targeting SDGs #1, #9, #11, #12, and #13. The timber construction of Easy Housing can store carbon, whereas its traditional component, concrete, knows high levels of CO2 emissions. Not only is timber better recyclable than concrete, but the construction of Easy Housing is also easy to decompose in which all elements can be reused. The impact of Easy Housing in climate resilience is less straight forward. In terms of low floods and earthquakes, Easy Housing can be considered as highly resilient. However, in terms of high floods and wildfires the resilience decreases. The analysis on direct impact of other SDGs (goals #3, #10, #16, and #17) showed that Easy Housing can potentially also have positive impact on health, inequality, peace and justice, and partnerships. Together with the analysis of Mozambique, it also became apparent that other aspects than only CO2 reduction, circular economy and climate resilience are important to create a positive impact of Easy Housing on the climate and housing crises. In conclusion, Easy Housing positively impacts the climate and housing crises by reducing CO2 emissions, being circular and being climate resilient to low floods and earthquakes. However, understanding the local context, creating (local) partnerships and the chosen target group are crucial for the real impact of Easy Housing on the climate and housing crises.

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