Zero Waste, Sustainable Architecture, Renewable Energy: unlimited source of renewable materials for sustainable housing

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Zero Waste, Sustainable Architecture, Renewable Energy: unlimited source of renewable materials for sustainable housing: Community placemaking through collaborative play

Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Cities are living organisms with huge digestive inefficiencies, such as waste accumulation and lack of housing. Curadores da Terra (Earth Curators) has developed an innovative system that transforms waste into manufactured materials for housing, helping cities’ healing process. The core innovation consists of a patented technology that combines waste with organic resins in order to produce renewable construction materials, which are then used to build sustainable and affordable houses through a construction process that we also developed and tested. We recently partnered with RAD Ambiental to create an industrial plant (the Clean Plant) in order to standardize and produce at scale; we also developed three Zero Waste Laws, paving the way to national scale replication.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if natural commons turn into lively community magnetizers by uniting parents and educators around early childhood whole development?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The project is critical because it is a highly implementable and economically feasible alternative to solve two of the biggest challenges of our society today: clean waste destination and affordable sustainable housing. It benefits all waste pickers, who will be formally hired by the local Clean Plants; community individuals empowered in a new clean construction workmanship; farmers harvesting oleaginous plants for the production of organic resins at locally implemented Ecological Habitats. Society benefits from the cleaner environment, reforestation programs, access to affordable sustainable housing. Besides the socio-environmental impact, the locally-generated energy that is sold back to the cities represents valuable cash flows to maximize returns for the plant shareholders.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Clean Plant converts all waste into sustainable products for housing: construction materials and energy. As a result, it represents a Zero Waste solution for cities of any size globally. The Plant also offers market returns to private investors that come mainly from the sale of energy; that also helps provide affordable construction materials at scale and represent a funding source for the implementation of Ecological Habitats. The construction system, based on locally generated materials, is easy to learn, being able to be replicated by community individuals in a continuous cycle of sustainable creativity. What also makes the project unique is the network of partnerships that we developed to implement the project at national level. Besides the partnership with RAD Ambiental, we partnered with Florestamento Nobre to develop Ecological Habitats, which provide the organic oils for the production of resins needed to amalgamate the waste into construction materials; these habitats also provide other complementary materials, such as bamboo, and use natural fertilizers produced by the plant, another positive by-product of the waste convertion process. The impact of our solution on the environment is significantly enhanced as the waste processing, generation of energy and manufacturing of construction materials are all done locally; less transportation results in less carbon emissions. In parallel, the three Zero Waste Laws that we developed at the national, state and municipals levels in Brazil reinforce the replication of the whole concept of the project.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Besides the proven technology, which has been successful in generating impact for several communities in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Bahia and Sergipe - enabling hundreds of community individuals in the clean construction system - our project has been successful in attracting a growing number of collaborations to implement the technology at scale in order to reach millions of families that lack a decent home. Each new synergic partnership represents an expansion of current capabilities, unifying technical, political and social/cultural dimensions of impact and expanding its territorial reach. Partnerships with the companies RAD Ambiental and Florestamento Nobre – for implementing the Clean Plants and Ecological Habitats - and with the IBRADES (Brazillian Institute for Sustainable Development) to implement a pilot project in the Cotiguiba Valley, SE, with the objective to reach 14 neighboring cities are some examples of this synergic expansion. We started collaborating with the President of the Science and Technology Commission of the Congress whose strategy is to promote innovative technologies with big social impact. The approval of the project-law 1269/07 by Deputy Célia Leão, which describes the whole concept of the project, is paving the way to national scale replication.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The project is a start-up. So far, we have a committed group of 2 educators, 2 caregivers / assistants, 10 children between 10 months and 2 years old, and their parents, who agreed to collectively fund the project and have different levels of commitment (from participating in night meetings only to 100% presence). We initiated talks with the park administration to increase security and to develop partnerships, such as a community food gardens and open parties to integrate the park staff (20 people), other park users (a few hundreds) and neighbours (a few hundreds). The park is located in a densely populated area, surrounded by a complex mosaic of social classes. Future impact will expand from the pilot project to other natural commons in the city and other cities and communities, whose mothers are already connected by the vibrant social network, run by one of the group founders.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Community placemaking through collaborative play is a scaleable solution to locally unite educators, caregivers and parents to co-create adaptive solutions for early childhood whole development and community well-being. Through Community-Public Partneships, the real estate, security and maintenance costs are significantly decreased for the funders while public assets and services already spent become lively used for the common good. We envision a social network and a festival of collaborative play communities for sharing experiences, playful practices and knowledge.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The main costs of the project are the monthly compensation of educators and assistants. We intend to organize full day formation workshops for all members. External facilitators and the need of materials are also funded by the group. Therefore parents secure financial sustainability. We are seeking funding to lower costs for the parents who are actively working to maintain and evolve the project, and to offer a more fair compensation for all.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Barro Molhado is a similar project happening in São Paulo for more than one year. Our project is not only inspired by their experiences, but they also share with us their past experiences, challenges, knowledge, members and friendship. Their group gathering happens in more central public squares (not a publicly managed park as it is in our case) and members houses. The main difference to our project is that their members are spread through different city locations, having less connection to the community placemaking. Due to our local common interests we are more engaged in public partnerships.

Founding Story

Aldeia Butanta is a vibrant community of parents, toddlers and educators who gather for collaborative play since May 2014 in the gorgeous playground of the Park Luis Carlos Prestes, located in the Butanta District in the City of Sao Paulo. The encounters are an open space for shared creativity and happen three times per week since the beginning, always between 9 and 12am during work days. Educators and parents alike are encouraged to hold a safe environment for interactive learning experiences of toddlers and adults, based on the principles of self-initited play and observation. The group builds on the earlier experience of one year old Barro Molhado group, from which our leading educator and mentor Vicente came from.


Vicente is the leading educator and mentor of the group. He graduated in psychology. Marilia Lins is a mother and a yoga and dance facilitator and lives very near the playground, being active in all matters related to the park administration. She graduated in Law. Janie Paula is a mother and a doula and the founder of an important social network for conscious mothers. Andre is a caregiver and holds the board meeting at his kite factory.
About You
Associação Verdever / Curadores da Terra
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Associação Verdever / Curadores da Terra

Organization Phone

+55 (11) 5561 1498

Organization Address

Rua Tomé Portes, 1138, Brooklyn, São Paulo, SP

Organization Country

, SP

Country where this project is creating social impact

, SP

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Sérgio Prado (Institute of Architecture of Venice, Italy) was inspired by the 1992 Rio Summit and started the NGO Verdever to create innovative sustainable architecture. During the Summit, Sérgio proposed to cover the cathedral of Rio with vegetation as a symbol for an envisioned system of live construction capable of breathing and generating food for its inhabitants. In 1999, he built a large vegetable nursery in the Esplanade of Ministries, the monumental axis in Brasilia, with 20,000 PET bottles, approached the Senate and formulated the project-law 269/99, Brazil Clean Waters, approved by absolute majority, which has been incorporated into the National Policy for Solid Waste, later approved by the President of Brazil in 2010. Subsequently, Sérgio developed the concept of creating construction materials by combining all kinds of waste with organic resins.
In 2004, Sérgio joined forces with the architect Márcia Macul (Master and Ph.D in Architecture by the University of São Paulo), who was disappointed with traditional cement-based construction techniques, but was inspired by ancient earth-based building systems. Through her research she developed a new construction method of thick structural walls of rammed earth with electricity-free heating and cooling functions. She has taught teams of young people of several communities in Brazil to build their homes under this system.

Social Impact
How many people have been impacted by your project?

101 - 1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The project is fully patented and is seeking capital to build two pilot plants. Its successful completion is fundamental for a quantum leap forward, demonstrating the effectiveness of the solution to municipalities, society and investors alike.
Due to the simplicity, originality and scalability of the project, an important step is to make the solution internationally recognized, understood and accepted, creating the basis for being certified as a new valid construction system and Zero Waste solution. IREO will present this project to the UN and we are preparing a focused participation in the Rio + 20 in 2012, a Zero Waste World Cup in 2014 and Green Olympic Games in 2016. Changemakers can help bring visibility to the project to gain global reach, as well as attract potential investors.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Together with RAD Ambiental, Florestamento Nobre, IBRADES and with support of local municipalities, we are starting the implementation of a pilot of the project, involving the construction of sustainable houses in 14 cities in Sergipe and neighbouring States in 2011-12. Besides that, we are seeking capital to build Clean Plants in the region to scale up our impact.
We are in advanced conversations with the energy distribution co. and USP (University of São Paulo) for the stablishment of first two plants in São Paulo. To accelerate our reach by the third year, we are already in conversations with infrastructure investment funds. IREO will also present this project to the UN 2011 Year of Forestry.The partnership with Zero Waste (ZWIA) will help build the project’s global footprint.

For each selection, please explain the financial and non-financial support from each

We have partnerships with the companies RAD Ambiental and Florestamento Nobre for the engineering and installation of the Clean Plants and the implementation of Ecological Habitats. With the advisory and support of IBRADES, we are developing a pilot project in Sergipe and neighboring states.
With the University of Tiradentes in Sergipe, we have a partnership for the research of the construction elements, aiming at its certification. With the University of São Paulo, we have a partnership to develop an interactive educational online platform to leverage the synergic network – an Instruction Manual for Earth Sustainability.
The São Paulo State deputy Célia Leão formulated the project law PL 1269/07 about the whole concept of the project, extended to the municipal level. The deputy will take the project to the State Water and Sewage treatment company as a viable reutilization solution for the sewage sludge, potentially attracting the support of the State Governor of São Paulo. We are collaborating with the president of the Science and Technology Comission of the Congress.
With the support of PNUD, this project was presented to Latin America representatives in the Belize Meeting. As we previously mentioned, the LGWPF, the IREO and the ZWIA will help build the project’s global footprint.
The Brazillian Development Bank indicated the possibility of financing the construction of the Clean Plants. Besides that, the investment opportunity is being analyzed by a number of infrastructure funds to raise the resources needed for a large scale replication.

How do you plan to grow and/or diversify your base of support in the next three years?

The successful conclusion of the pilot projects in São Paulo and in the Northern states is an important step to allow for replication in Brazil and internationally, demonstrating to a large audience of investors, municipalities and the society, the efficiency, financial attractiveness and environmental-social impact of the project.
Given that the multiplication of Green Sustainable Cities is linked to the implementation of Clean Plants that represent a funding source for the creation of Ecological Habitats, we are intensifying efforts for approval of current project-laws and its replication to other states and cities in Brazil.
We will share the development of the project by participating actively in key events, such as Rio +20 in 2012. These efforts will enable the project to become visible to large infrastructure funds and to attract new international partners.
The continuous partnership building with new social-environmental entrepreneurs creates new and unique capabilities to the organization. The online platform under development will accelerate this process, allowing for a global spread of the synergic support network.

Please select your areas of intervention in the home improvement market

Design, Technology, Labor, Sanitation, Infrastructure, Green housing, Environment, Urban development, Citizen/community participation, Public policy.

Is your innovation addressing barriers in the home improvement/progressive housing market? If so, please describe in detail your mechanisms of intervention

Yes; it helps communities build new sustainable homes as well as expand existing ones. The construction system, based on locally generated renewable materials (rammed earth and waste) is easy to learn, being able to be replicated by community individuals. We developed a Clean Plant, which converts all types of waste into these renewable materials and energy, offering market returns to potential Clean Plant investors. The solution is complemented by the implementation of Ecological Habitats to recover the cities’ surroundings, while providing organic oils for the production of resins needed to amalgamate residues in new building elements.

Are you currently collaborating with private companies, or have you partnered with private companies in the past? With which companies?

Yes, we have partnerships with the companies RAD Ambiental, for engineering and construction of Clean Plants, and with Florestamento Nobre for the implementation of Ecological Habitats.

Please describe in detail the nature of the partnership(s)

The organization Verdever / Curadores da Terra developed the technology capable of combining waste with organic resins to produce renewable construction materials as well as the construction system for sustainable housing. RAD Ambiental has the rights to build the Rotary Aerobic Digester technology in South America for processing the biomass. The union of these patented processes with the capabilities of Florestamento Nobre to implement the Ecological Habitats result in an integrated synergic solution with mutual benefits for all actors involved.

Select the unit(s) with which the partnership was formed

Other (please specify).