UN Environment, Yale unveil eco-housing module

UN Environment and Yale University have unveiled a new eco-housing module that demonstrates how to make modern living decent, affordable and environmentally sustainable.

The 22-square-metre house is fully powered by renewable energy and designed to test the potential for minimizing the use of natural resources such as water. It is constructed primarily from locally sourced, bio-based renewable materials and can accommodate up to four people. Efficient and multi-functional, the Ecological Living Module can be used for either domestic or commercial purposes.

“We clearly need more housing, but the key thing is that we also need smarter housing,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, which partnered with Yale University on the project.

“The housing sector uses 40 per cent of the planet’s total resources and represents more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. So making them more efficient will benefit everyone.”

Around one billion people worldwide currently live in informal settlements, while millions more live in buildings that are not environmentally friendly. Rapid urbanization and economic growth challenge communities to expand in a sustainable manner.

“Adequate housing is at the heart of sustainable urbanization,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director of UN-Habitat, which was involved in the project. “The use of proper building materials, better planning and improved construction techniques can make energy use in buildings more efficient.

The unit is on display in the UN Plaza in New York City from 9-18 July. Future versions of the module – including one in Kenya, the home of UN Environment and UN-Habitat – will be adapted to respond to local climatic and cultural contexts.

Image credit: UN Environment

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