Limiting global warming to 1.5°C by reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 is critical for sustainable development and poverty eradication. If global temperatures rise above this, there will be devastating impact on communities around the world, particularly across Africa and South Asia, where we invest. Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 needs businesses across all sectors to adopt green solutions which both fulfil their business needs and contribute to a sustainable future.
One sector in particular need of green solutions is the construction industry, which is rapidly expanding across sub-Saharan Africa. Growing populations and increasing urbanisation are driving demand for affordable and good-quality housing, putting pressure on resources. One of the main materials currently used in construction across the continent is clay-burnt brick, which involves burning wood in the manufacturing process. This method of manufacturing leads to both deforestation and air pollution, two key contributors to climate change. Alternative, environmentally-friendly building solutions are urgently needed to simultaneously meet the increased demand for housing and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 13, Climate Action.
An innovative approach
That’s why, in 2016, we partnered with LafargeHolcim, a global leader in building materials and solutions, to create 14Trees. 14Trees’ mission is to take affordable and sustainable construction innovations from labs to the field, test them, optimise them, implement them on the ground, and scale them up. With activities in Malawi, Kenya and Ivory Coast today, 14Trees started with the production, promotion and sale of Durabric, their alternative to clay-burnt brick, in Malawi. Durabric is better for the environment than clay-burnt brick as the bricks are produced from a mixture of earth, sand and cement, compressed in a mould, and left to cure naturally without firing. By avoiding the firing phase, Durabric reduces greenhouse gas emissions and avoids deforestation, saving on average 55 tonnes of carbon dioxide and fourteen trees for every house built. Compared to traditional clay-burnt bricks, Durabric also offers better resistance to water, higher strength and sustainability; all using local materials.
Durabric saves on average 55 tonnes of carbon dioxide...
...and fourteen trees for every house built.
As of April 2020, 2.75 million Durabrics have been used. The bricks and concrete blocks produced by 14Trees have saved a total of 35,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and 8,700 trees. These materials have been used for the construction of schools, hospitals and houses. Since opening their first plant in Malawi in 2016, 14Trees now operate four plants. With our support, the business has strengthened the local construction industry by accelerating the adoption of green building standards and partnering with local builders, who are able to improve their construction skills and benefit from employment opportunities.
As of April 2020, 2.75 million Durabrics have been used.