If one is interested in creating ecological housing
in Kenya, one of the best ways of doing this is by constructing them using green and sustainable building materials.. These green construction materials can be defined as materials that are renewable, that is they are able to be generated afresh after being harvested from their natural habitat, and this can be done without harming their indigenous environment. Ecological housing is housing that is built through the use of such sustainable materials.
Timber occurs in plenty in many regions, and is a freely available sustainable material, occuring in forested areas. It is obtained from tree species that yield solid timbers of either hardwood or softwood type. It is usable in many applications in the building industry, and its versatility is quite amazing. Timber products are very useful for the creation of ecological housing in Kenya due to its eco-friendly character as a naturally occuring material.
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.
Timber houses are the epitome of living in a wholly naturalized environment, in an easy, healthy manner. We are familiar with the notion of having holiday log cabins in the mountains or by the lakeside, and indeed the creation of comfortable leisurely housing units are often connected to timber housing. Many individuals interested in developing sustainable housing and green construction techniques will be comfortable with timber construction as a means of achieving their green agenda. Timber construction therefore becomes highly desirable for undertaking and creating ecological housing.
Construction of a timber house can be achieved using a solid structural skeleton formed from select harder timbers, whether of dense softwoods or hardwood species. Its outer cladding and cover can be created using overlapping boards or planks, or interlocking boards. It is prudent to select boards made from strong natural timbers that show high resistance to pests and natural elements, or else the boards need to be treated by painting or impregnation to avert their degradation due to exposure. Such timber can be painted with two or three coats of timber primers or vanish that will ensure their longevity in appearance and strength, especially in external applications. However if possible, a developer should use timber species that are locally available and show a strong ability to resist natural pests, due to their natural characteristics.
By using natural and timber based materials in their construction, timber ecological housing can be created with a very high standard of eco-friendliness. There are very few things that would cause environmental degradation in their makeup, hence their high environmental sensitivity ratings.
Various applications in which some of these natural materials are used include
- for creation of natural roof coverings having good temperature control characteristics and maintenance, e.g. wood shingles and clay tiles
- for creation of natural and plant based pigments and paints for construction, ensuring that there are low volatile organic compounds within the paint.
- their use as natural insulation materials for lining internal walls, either through timber boards or veneers. These are good for regulating internal temperatures of housing.
It is unfortunate that with environmental degradation, there has been a reduction in the natural occurrence of some of these naturally abundant timber species. However there have been stringent regulations that have come into force regarding deforestation and cropping of trees, and it is hoped that with the safeguarding of native tree species, these shall again thrive and become plentiful. The option of importing of appropriate types of timber for use in environmentally friendly housing remains, and this has often been done from neighbouring countries in equatorial forest regions. These are usually sourced based on their long lifespan characteristics and low maintenance due to their strength. With importation too, a developer is able to select the type of timber desired based on characteristics such as color, grain and bulk availability.
An important characteristic of timber based housing
of this sort is that it tends to be modular in construction, especially if it is going to be prefabricated and put together on site. Nevertheless, a client is able to select the type of modules and construction type he or she would be interested in building, and these can be worked into shape by timber fabricators who prepare this kind of housing structures.
That said, if a builder is interested in constructing housing units using natural and sustainable construction materials, he or she ought to take a serious look at ecological housing construction using timber.