Zim builds eco-friendly demo house A City of Harare worker carries polythene modules being used for the construction of a low-cost and environmentally-friendly model house at Sunway City in Ruwa, yesterday. — Picture: Believe Nyakudjara

Municipal Reporter

The construction of a model house using polystyrene as the main construction material replacing the common brick and mortar has started in Sunway City spearheaded by the Zimbabwe-China Commission with the local regulators on hand to test the result and set a new model building standard.

The house uses technology brought into Zimbabwe and if approved, could slash building costs by up to 45 percent.

Green building materials that are fast to use, also called eco-friendly materials, are building construction materials that have a low impact on the environment, composed of renewable resources which have to be natural and will not spoil by the heat, humidity, or cold.

During a media tour of the project yesterday it was observed that the house which was at window level is being constructed with polystyrene, steel, light weight concrete, a bit of reinforcement and metal window frames.

The house is set to have a steel roof.

Harare City Council projects officer Mr Mulandelwa Gumbie said the model construction using polystyrene is actually a faster method than the usual brick and mortar.

“We will be using polystyrene blocks together with steel which will be filled with light weight concrete with some reinforcements in between.

“This model will actually help us to achieve the target that is set by our Government that of service delivery. We want to have as many units or many houses by 2030,” he said.

Mr Gumbie said the City of Harare in partnership with Sunway City and other local authorities embarked on the test house after there was a memorandum between the Government of China and the Government of Zimbabwe.

“China provided the materials we are using while our local Government is providing the technical expertise, labour force and Sunway City provided the land where we are building this demonstration house,” he said.

Mr Gumbie said they envisaged to have started the construction project in 2019 but due to Covid-19 it was delayed with only trenches having been done.

He said construction resumed this year on July 12 when the team moved back to the site building from the foundation stage.

“It is our desire that come next month people should be seeing a completed building which will be ready for occupation.

“Our controlling parastatals like Standards Association of Zimbabwe, Environmental Management Agency and other regulatory bodies will be coming to look at the buildings to make assessments and recommendations from the completed unit,” he said.

Mr Gumbie said while the materials have been tested from abroad in terms of fire resistance, moisture penetration, sound, durability but it is also the desire that local regulatory bodies should also come and certify the project.

He said they will then recommend for the adoption of the material to local authorities’ model building by-laws.

“This kind of method we are using is modular; it will be a faster construction method, sound and temperature regulation. This is actually better material and we are also advocating green buildings.

“Green buildings, means the buildings have to be energy efficient and cost effective so when we are looking in a holistic manner if you have a triangular where you want to control quality, time and cost this will actually be the best method according to what we are planning as a method to use for the construction of the buildings,” Mr Gumbie said.

He said at the moment they are doing a single storey house as a demo house but will also be doing multi-story buildings the moment the project is truly certified.

Mr Gumbie said while the building is still under construction working from a background cost of using brick and mortar is estimated at US$350 to US$400 per square metre but from the calculations on this project is about US$275 per square metre in terms of construction, labour inclusive.

Sunway City town planner Munyaradzi Mapurisa said from the model house it’s a new technology which they are helping by partaking in it.

“We are closely monitoring if it is approved and proves to be cheaper. We will eventually pick it up and include it in our projects.

“Apart from the industrial area we are also developing residential areas so if it comes out to be cheaper it’s a model which we can then replicate,” he said.

In a move aimed at constructing eco-friendly structures and mitigating climate change, the Government has since secured funding for the construction of plants that manufacture green construction materials.

National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe recently said the Government migrated from the only use of brick and mortar strategies to the application of new technologies in housing delivery.

“There are other programmes that we are working on, the construction of plants to manufacture green materials in the country. We have sourced the funding for that through Shelter Afrique.

“Very soon we are going to be witnessing the construction, completion and launching of that plant which manufactures green materials to mitigate the issues of climate change,” said Minister Garwe.

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