Coffee husks—the papery pure materials round espresso beans that comes off when the beans are roasted—usually change into waste, dumped in piles that launch methane, a potent greenhouse gasoline. However an organization in Colombia has discovered a brand new use for them, combining the husks with recycled plastic to create a brand new materials.
The corporate, Bogota-based Woodpecker, makes use of the light-weight, robust materials to make the partitions of its prefab homes, which price as little as $4,500. The corporate began creating the answer a decade in the past.
“We noticed that there was an enormous necessity for a light-weight construction system for housing and lecture rooms in rural and remoted locations the place conventional construction programs can not go—like bricks, cement, and concrete,” says CEO Alejandro Franco. The startup wanted to search out materials gentle sufficient to maneuver in a small boat, a helicopter, or on the again of a burro. It examined combining totally different pure fibers, from sawdust and rice to grass and palm fiber, with several types of recycled plastic. “Coffee husk was chosen as a result of it’s stronger and drier than the opposite fibers,” he says. It’s additionally broadly obtainable in Colombia, one of many largest coffee-producing international locations on the planet. The ultimate materials is fireproof, sturdy, and resists bugs.
The corporate makes Lego-like kits that may simply be assembled on-site, with a metal body and low husk boards that click on collectively simply with minimal instruments. (Whereas the corporate builds most properties itself, some prospects purchase the kits and put them collectively themselves.) By designing every mannequin of dwelling to make use of as few elements as potential, and customary elements between totally different designs, the group helped maintain prices low. The recycled materials can be inexpensive, and Woodpecker lowers prices additional by producing materials at a big scale.
Construction sometimes takes lower than per week. Final November, when the Class 5 hurricane Iota hit the Colombian island of Windfall, destroying 1,300 properties, the Colombian authorities requested Woodpecker to assist. “They wanted a quick answer and a light-weight construction system,” says Franco. The corporate donated two homes, which the military helped construct in 5 days. “We shipped an entire equipment from our manufacturing unit,” he says. “The system labored completely contemplating that there was no vitality provide, the soil was muddy, the airport broken, no meals, etcetera—all the issues possible.”
As the corporate continues to construct housing in different low-income areas, it additionally hopes to get orders and authorities approval to assist rebuild the island at a bigger scale. “We predict our homes are a superb answer for the housing disaster there,” Franco says. “It has been confirmed already.”