2024 KCP Application
Build up Nepal Engineering
Winner or Finalist
Primary Project Category:
Secondary Project Category:
Carbon Sinks (Natural & Engineered)
Social & Cultural Pathways
Transport and Mobility
Project Summary / Description:
The built environment accounts for 39% of all carbon emissions. The UN estimates that 1.8 billion people lack adequate housing globally. Fired bricks is the most used construction material in South Asia and a booming industry. There is a strong and urgent need of safe and climate-friendly housing. Build up Nepal has developed a low-carbon technology and model to replace fired bricks. We train local entrepreneurs to produce bricks using local materials and recycled construction waste. The results: walls cost 40% less with 75-90% lower emissions. Also, our bricks interlock like LEGO, making the building highly disaster- resistant and easy to build. Build up Nepal follows a systematic process to support micro-enterprises producing eco-friendly bricks. The results are self-sustaining enterprises creating jobs, building houses, and saving CO2 emissions every year. To date, we‚ ve supported 306 enterprises to build 8120 homes, reducing 74,227 tons of CO2.
How Project Affects Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions:
There is an urgent need to deal with the extremely polluting and dirty fired brick industry in South Asia. Our bricks reduce CO2 emissions by 75-78% compared to coal-fired bricks (Max Fordham, 2021). Our main impact is achieved by replacing fired bricks and thus reducing emissions and air pollution.Our solution achieves impact through two combined elements:1) Eco-friendly, low-cost technologyOur bricks are made from local materials (soil+sand) and/or recycled construction waste (stone dust) and 5-10% cement. The materials used for the brick mix are adapted to the local context. Stone dust is a by-product of stone crushers that make strong bricks. In areas where stone crushers are operating, we encourage the use of stone dust. Altogether this minimises the negative impacts and ensures a positive example for natural resource management and climate protection.The technology reduces the cost of building a wall by 40% - a significant cost saving, especially for low-income families. 2) Last-mile delivery modelWe systematically recruit driven entrepreneurs to start micro construction enterprises. They invest their own money, sweat and tears into their enterprises, securing a strong incentive to build and grow long-term.Build up Nepal provides step-by-step support to help each enterprise succeed. We teach how to make bricks and build earthquake resistant. We provide business training, marketing support and quality control. The entrepreneurs are working on the ground in their own villages. They operate more effectively and at lower cost than any outside company or organisation. Build up Nepal develops the wider market, providing machine reparations and maintenance, technical support and solving bottlenecks. This bottom-up-focused business model is highly scalable and adapted to local conditions.The result: Walls at 40% lower cost, eco-friendly bricks and financially sustainable enterprises building houses and creating jobs in their communities. Negative impacts of coal-fired bricks:Coal is extracted in India then transported to Nepal and used as fuel in the kilns. The kilns cause land degradation as they remove topsoil leaving the land infertile.In Kathmandu, brick kilns are responsible for 28% of total PM10 concentrations and 40% of Black Carbon and 600 premature deaths yearly (WorldBank 2020). Black carbon particles end up in Himalayan glaciers polluting and speeding its melting. The glacier provides drinking water for 1.5 billion people and is one of the critical ecosystems of our planet. The bricks are transported to construction sites on sub-standard roads, breaking 20-40% on their way. A study by ILO and Unicef (ILO, 2020) found 17,000 child laborers working in the brick kilns of Nepal.In comparison, our eco-friendly bricks:Are made with local soil and construction waste. The only negative climate effect is the cement (5-10%), which is usually made in Nepal. We are working to reduce the cement content in the brick mix, making it 100% carbon neutral. The production is small scale. Fertile topsoil cannot be used and when extracting soil, we build terraces for farming or use left-over soil from road construction.50% less mortar is used in construction.
Impact on Underrepresented Groups:
Inclusive & Green Brick Industry: We have a laser focus on empowering a diverse group of entrepreneurs and communities with a particular focus on women, youth, and disadvantaged groups. To date, 80% of the jobs in the enterprises are held by women, youth, and disadvantaged groups (Dalit, Janjaati, Madhesi, etc.). This has enabled thousands of poor families to work their way out of poverty, reducing forced migration. See a short video about Parbati ‚ one of our successful female entrepreneurs (2 min): youtu.be/iMdqwjufZbw Empowering a Diverse Team: Our team and leadership reflect the diversity of Nepal, which is particularly important in decision-making. We believe that diversity is important because it is the right thing to do and also because it makes our work more efficient. We work in diverse regions and communities. What might be a suitable solution in an urban community might not be suitable when working in a marginalised rural community. Diversity in our team ensures better decisions, small and large. Safeguarding: Build up Nepal has a comprehensive code of conduct and anti-discrimination policy in place. We recognize that a policy is only as good as it is implemented. Therefore, we focus on a HANDS-ON approach through: - Empowering an inclusive team and diverse entrepreneurs - Inclusive trainings ‚ systematically engaging and advancing women, youth, and disadvantaged groups - Accountability: Continuously encourage critical feedback from employees, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders - enabling continuous improvements - Regular training for our staff in safeguarding the vulnerable.
Research or Economic Modeling
Measurement, Reporting & Validation
In 2015, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, destroying 800,000 houses. Build up Nepal was founded by social entrepreneurs Bina Shrestha and Bj√∂rn S√∂derberg in response to the housing/poverty crisis after the earthquake, with the objective to help poor families rebuild. We operate all across Nepal, mostly in small towns and villages. Our main target groups are poor and low-income families in desperate need of safe housing. We train local entrepreneurs, women, unemployed youth and disadvantaged groups to make eco-friendly bricks that are cheaper and stronger than fired bricks.