Steelheart International, a USA non profit 501(c)3 is spearheading the need to provide low cost housing in Uganda, with a franchise with Ndikyo to promote this housing after receiving technical training on construction.. Partnering with Domes For the World and Hildebrand USA, the Ecoshell is the lowest cost housing relevant to the Ugandan market, ranging on average $3500 - $5000, depending on size ranging from 28sqm to 50sqm and features to be included.
At the same time, Steelheart is working with an affiliate in Durban, South Africa to use landfill waste (i.e. plastics and Expanded Polystyrene/Foam), to make building blocks that are lightweight compared to concrete, and very energy efficient.
Steelheart's goal is to franchise one or more local entities to build the houses with a low cost long-term financing program which is synergistic with the annual incomes of the people.
Ndikyo's efforts to elevate income by elevating agricultural production is the first step to enabling individual families to be able to afford a house.
Ecoshell means economical, eco-friendly and thin-shell.
With 538sq unit (50’ in diameter), the houses are suitable for a family of 8 people.
EcoShells are built with 2 or 3 inches of concrete and a modest amount of rebar. Compared to conventional, rectangular buildings with the same square footage, EcoShells use less than 50% of concrete and rebar in their construction. They also take less money and time to construct.
EcoShells use readily available, environment-friendly materials, so trees and other local, natural resources are conserved. Construction can be done by hiring local labor with very little special skills and/or equipment.
The Domes’ compound curve makes them stronger than virtually any other structure. They are as disaster proof as a building can get and will withstand tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and fire. They cannot be burned, eaten by bugs or destroyed by mold and will last for centuries. And because of the concrete’s thermal mass, the Domes’ interior temperatures remain stable.
A few good workers can build an EcoShell in three to five days. For a 6-meter dome, you need: 50 bags of cement, 2500’ roll of basalt reinforcing or fiberglass, about 5 cubic meters of small size concrete aggregate, an Airform that can be used hundreds of times, a small inflator fan and a few workers primarily with hand tools. The basalt reinforcing (basalt rebar is now produced by several countries) weighs 1/11th as much as steel, but is stronger and – most importantly – will not rust.
Energy required to heat or cool a Monolithic Dome is generally 1/4 to not more than 50% of any conventional building. The Domes will be mostly fire resistant and resistant to hurricanes and Tornadoes.
Since the EcoShell is generally not insulated, it won’t be climate controlled, but its concrete does have some thermal value. And it can be covered with thatching, straw or dirt for insulation. Its roof can be coated with aluminized asphalt or a high grade exterior paint, preferably white to reflect heat. Recently we have added a layer of concrete that has polystyrene pellets, or vermiculite, or perlite added to it for insulation.
All things considered, the EcoShell is one of construction’s strongest buildings. It is virtually impervious to fire, tornadoes and earthquakes. It is especially practical in countries lacking wood and steel. Most countries have concrete and rebar on hand. In general, using the same amount of cement, aggregate and rebar, three EcoShells can be built in place of one conventional, concrete structure.