One of the best ways with which ecological housing in Kenya can be constructed is by using construction materials that are green and sustainable in themselves. Green construction materials are those that are renewable, and can be regenerated after being harvested without depletion and harmful effects to the environment. Residential housing that is constructed using this kind of sustainable materials is called ecological housing.
Creation of ecological housing in Kenya through use of timber
Probably the best-known sustainable material that occurs in plenty in nature is timber. Timber is sourced from trees of solid species that have been harvested and treated accordingly. Once this is complete, various types of timber-based elements can be formed for a myriad of uses. One can therefore be involved in creation of eco friendly residential developments by incorporating these elements in the building of ecological housing in Kenya.
Timber can be utilized as a structural element, or as a cladding element, as well as in the formation of interior carpentry and joinery. Timber furniture and fittings are commonplace in every home. In addition, modern applications of timber materials include the use of timber byproducts such as sawdust, timber chippings and particles that are used to form chipboard, particleboards, MDF and HDF boards, all of which are important elements of construction.
Timber applications are widespread. In temperate climates where deciduous trees grow in plenty, they are used to create timber housing. Usually, it is preferable to use slow growing timbers from countries where they are available for this type of construction, as these timbers are harder and better formed to stand the test of time.
Ecological Housing in Kenya can be widespread with the use of timber construction
The timber house is the essence of natural, conventional and healthy living. Timber based construction has long been associated with creation of comfortable residential units using materials that are purely derived from nature. This form of construction conforms to many clients’ ecological, biological and economical aspirations, especially when they are interested in creating residential buildings that are green and sustainable. Therefore, the use of timber structures in construction contributes immensely to the creation of ecological housing in Kenya.
The timber house can be constructed using selected solid timbers as its structural skeleton, as well as its outer covering. The timbers selected for this purpose exhibit a high natural resistance to external elements, including having good resistance to pests. Virtually unlimited life spans as well as a relatively low level of maintenance characterize these kinds of timbers. Such timbers may be treated by having simply two or three coats of vanish on them for appearance sake. Others have very high resistance to pests such as termites and the like. For example, the red cedar hardwood tree species emit` a tannin which acts as a natural wood preservative, making impregnation unnecessary.
In order to maintain a high level of sustainability with these eco-friendly housing units, the construction of timber ecological housing in Kenya uses natural or timber based materials in its construction, all leading to a high standard of eco-friendliness.
Some of commonly used natural materials include
- natural insulation materials which line internal walls and assist to regulate internal temperatures (e.g. cotton, wool or cork). These can be also created from timber boards that can be used to create clean interior surfaces.
- natural materials for the roofing which have good thermal and maintenance properties (e.g. clay tiles),
- use of plant-based paints for decoration, and especially paint finishes that have low VOC content. Vinyl water based paints can also be used in this kind of application.
In seeking which timbers to use in a construction of ecological housing in Kenya, one should seek timbers that have an unlimited life and low maintenance characteristics. While previously these timbers were readily available in the Kenyan market, stringent rules regarding deforestation have come into force, greatly reducing their availability in the market.
Care Strategies during construction of ecological housing in Kenya.
One of the challenges with ordinary timber construction is that it is affected over time by environmental elements, leading to it changing in its exterior character. As timber absorbs water it tends to expand and warp, loosing its dimensional stability. In addition it can begin to harbor microorganisms such as fungus or algae, which can decolorize its surface finish. At worst if the quality of timber is weak and wanting, the timber is liable to rot or be consumed by termites, all of which has major implications on the timber’s structural strength. You do not want this to happen on a sensitive beam or floor joist supporting something precious and heavy!
The walls of timber housing can be vulnerable to harsh elements, especially the sun and rain, which need to be sheltered from. Mitigating against harsh unwanted effects from natural elements can be achieved by utilizing the shading and partial shielding within the design. For example the architect can design deeply overhanging roofs to shelter timber facades from direct sun rays especially in the middle of the day when it is hottest, leaving only cooler, deeper sun rays to reach to the house later in the day.
Other areas that require thermal control include the window and door construction. In some areas, these sort of ecological housing requires added technological advances such as use of energy saving devices to enhance their sustainability characteristics. Use of double glazed windows having energy rated low emissivity glass can further enhance the energy efficiency of ecological housing in Kenya.
Various manufacturers offer several types of external wall construction. Some may provide double board or single board construction depending on a client’s budget. Double-block construction consists usually of two identical leafs containing an insulation layer between. Single-leaf log walls produce the typical traditional atmosphere of the log cabin. The purchaser has the choice of construction using round logs or squared blocks that are fixed on the external side of the wall, though the internal can be finished using smooth boards such as gypsum or timber.
Many timber houses can be freely planned to meet the client’s requirements. The client also has a choice of which type of timber to use. Some suppliers offer self build options together with assistance from the firm’s construction specialists. However most of these ecological housing in Kenya tend to be modular in nature that is easily assembled on site.