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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Buildings, Real Estate and Facilities > Green Building Practices for Sustainable Facilities

Low Cost Green, Earthquake-proof Houses

Concrete, bamboo and tires provide the materials for low-cost, earthquake-proof housing.

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Safe, inexpensive housing in earthquake country

Creative thinkers often find the seed of a solution in others' creative problem solving. Safe, inexpensive housing in earthquake country could be one of those solutions for well as Indonesia. Here's one of those idea-starters!

Earthquake-Proof Houses Are Successfully Test Shaken at Colorado State University

Two innovative, low-cost houses designed by Dr. Alan Early of the Indonesia Aid Foundation are being tested on a seismic shake table at Colorado State University. One house is made completely of concrete, including the roof. On April 6, 2007 this house successfully held during progressively greater earthquakes, to an ultimate test of greater than 10.0 on the Richter scale. An earthquake of this magnitude is only likely to occur every 1500 years. For a structure to withstand such forces is unprecedented in known shake tests and actual earthquakes.

A second test of a similar structure with the same concrete base but with a wood frame and metal roof will be tested in the afternoon of April 10th at CSU's Engineering Research Center, Laporte Avenue, Foothills Campus, in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Green Building Features of Earthquake Housing Design

Both houses have unique green building features for environmental friendliness. The house bases have 40% of steel rebar replaced by bamboo of the same diameter. Bamboo is both lighter and stronger than traditional materials and its cultivation is environmentally friendly. Both houses are erected on a layer of discarded automobile tires as a very low-cost and successful shock absorber/damper mechanism.

These houses were developed for Indonesian families with income of $100 per month. Most families with lesser income already live in very safe bamboo houses. Extensive coordination and consultation with the Research Institute for Human Settlements of the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works have ensured this design conforms to Indonesian cultural tastes and preferences. Individual families qualifying for government loans will provide proof of land ownership and work on their own home. The houses will cost only $995.00.

These concrete houses have a footprint of 270 square feet and are designed for a family of six. They are designed to be rapidly constructed in a factory setting for quality control. Finishing the roof and painting the house will be the responsibility of the new owner, as well as providing tires, a building lot and a proper foundation.

The Indonesia Aid Foundation anticipates that this design will ultimately be an important part of the solution to the significant housing shortage in Indonesia caused by earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

Dr. Alan Early
Indonesia Aid Foundation, Inc.
Phone: 970-497-3021
Email address:

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Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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