“Without sustainable housing, there is no sustainable society”
“To be the owner of a house is part of people’s identity, and it gives them a place of belonging within society. We practice an ecological approach to housing that taps the enthusiasm of its owners.” - Francesco Piazzesi
The residents of more than half of the housing in Latin America, and in developing countries, build their own homes. The Échale a tu casa program provides affordable materials and services to families so they can build a sustainable house for themselves. “This initiative is very important because everything starts at home, and if we don’t have sustainable houses, we will never achieve a sustainable economy and society,” Piazzesi said.
So far, 25,000 Mexican families have achieved the dream of home ownership and have the added benefit of living in houses that are wholly ecological, Piazzesi noted. These houses are sustainable because the construction materials do not harm the environment (the Adoblock blocks consist of 90 percent earth), they have rain water collection systems, and they are equipped to take advantage of alternative energy sources through solar heaters and low consumption stoves.
“Our houses address three basic aspects of housing: their economic, social and environmental impacts,” Francesco said. “They provide economic benefits because do-it-yourself home building generates jobs and the homeowner acquires a valuable asset. Socially, participating in training workshops builds the community fabric. And there are environmental benefits because the houses are made with materials that do not contaminate the environment during building and when they are lived in.”
Each family is supported by professionals from the construction field to guarantee that they build safe and long-lasting houses. The program participants are highly motivating to move forward, Piazzesi said.
"When the houses are finished, the families are very excited and want to continue building,” he said. “Even the skeptics – who are always present - end up joining the initiative.”
Safe and sustainable housing is the first step in build a well-established society. “Many people live under plastic or cardboard,” Piazzesi said. “ Échale a tu casa offers an integral solution that provides technology, technical assistance, quality materials, and affordable financing plans to families that build their own homes so they achieve housing conditions that are adequate according to United Nations standards.”
- by Lorena López
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