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What happens if we bring together technology, sustainability and resilience?



The adverse effects caused by climate change today afflict populations in several cities of the world and with more intensity, those located in precarious urban areas. Low-income populations are the most affected and vulnerable groups, because they do not have the resources and the conditions to promote the necessary adaptations to face this phenomenon. Given the inability and unpreparedness of these populations to cope with the effects of climate change, this project focuses on enabling simple housing to be adapted and able to meet basic human needs, such as demands for water, food, energy, adequate solutions for the management of solid waste and sanitary sewage, together with the promotion of more sustainable and conscious ways of life.

The challenge of the Viva Arquitetura Popular Project is to democratize the access of the poorest populations, to solutions and technologies that promote self-sustaining housing, with services of lower aggregate cost, also incorporating principles of bioclimatic architecture, enabling at last the reduction of the impact of housing under the environment. Our focus is also to create a Collective Network of Financing integrated to our website, so that any person and institution can help needy families to benefit from materials, technologies or financial resources for construction or housing adaptation. We will ally this process, a social work, where we will seek to prepare our communities to be more resilient and able to cope with climate change, while discussing ways to formulate healthier and sustainable spaces.

To consciously rethink our cities for human subsistence and sustainable urban development, is to guarantee mechanisms to reverse this socio-environmental picture and thus restore the ecological balance of our planet.

What actions do you propose?

The current global scenario is one of increasing global degradation, threatened by the extinction of natural resources, as well as increasing levels of poverty and the possibility of social crises. Cities account for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions while occupying only 3% of the earth's surface. The buildings in our cities account for 60% of electricity use, 12% of water use, 40 % of waste, and 40% of material resources, according to research by the Accelerating Building Efficiency at the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

According to data from the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), the construction industry is also responsible for 30% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. However, if efficiency measures are implemented, it is possible to avoid the emission of 3.2 gigatonnes of CO2 by 2050. Failure to act due to climate change will undermine the effectiveness of various development policies such as education, health and poverty.

In the coming years, due to aggressive environmental degradation and ecological imbalance, we will face problems related to water scarcity, food, energy and other global problems. Thus, it is necessary to create efficient mechanisms that can preserve our natural inputs and at the same time provide basic resources for human survival in the face of this challenging situation.

Thus, the actions for this project are:

  • Contribute to the mitigation of the effects of climate change in our cities, bringing to the center of the proposal housing and sustainable urban development, enabling public, private and social spheres to be actively involved in this process.
  •  To enable the construction of environmentally sustainable spaces, which use as aspects of adaptation and housing constructions, rationalization of water use, energy efficiency, internal environmental quality and material sustainability, adapting the proposals to the local climate, minimizing energy consumption and optimizing the conditions of ventilation, lighting and natural heating, with attention to the proper solar orientation.
  • Harmonize propositions and adaptations not only with the environment, but also with the community of its influence, taking advantage of the natural resources without generation of waste and negative impacts, at the same time providing health, comfort, quality of life and safety to its occupants.

More specifically, we will seek to incorporate into the constructions and adaptations of the dwellings, sustainable solutions such as:

- Alternative sources of energy generation, such as solar panels, wind energy and biodigesters, in order to encourage the use of technologies that take advantage of the maximum use of natural resources, as well as reducing the use of other sources of polluting energy, with the possibility of inject the surplus of this energy into the public network or generate income from the sale of it;

- Low consumption lighting;

- Rainwater harvesting systems, residential water reuse and water saving devices to reduce the consumption of drinking water and preserve natural sources that are already at low levels of storage in the world, such as rivers and lakes.

- Use of low environmental impact construction materials;

- Inclusion of spaces for food production and landscaping, such as vegetable gardens, green ceilings and gardens;

- Composting of organic waste;

- Reduction, reuse and adequate disposal of residential waste generated, aiming to make recycling and reuse of materials a social practice.

We will ally the objectives of the project with social actions such as:

• Implementation of a collective financing platform for projects and executions aimed at families with little access to financial resources to afford the costs of adapting or building self-sustaining housing;

• The realization of social works directed to the beneficiary communities, focused on environmental education and urban sustainability;

• Formation of community-based research groups to engage youth in environmental issues, seeking the exchange of experiences, capacity building, impelling new ideas and sustainable solutions for the construction of more resilient communities capable of coping with climatic adversities.

Through these physical and social actions, we will seek to achieve:

• The fulfillment of agreements made between Brazil and international organizations to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the inclusion of self-sustaining housing in the premises to achieve this goal;

• Adoption of the concept of "self-sustaining housing" by the spheres responsible for mitigating the causes and effects of climate change, the motor for the development of intelligent and resilient cities, as well as the replication of the concept in other Latin American countries.


Who will take these actions?

Startups involved in sustainable solutions and technologies will be essential partnerships both in the initial phase of implementation of this project and in the consolidation process, as these will be able to facilitate the access of low-income families to these resources.

The municipal governments can also be good allies to the project, since they have great potential of action in the subject of the sustainable constructions. They are able to induce and promote good practices through urban legislation and code of buildings, tax incentives and agreements with the concessionaires of public water, sewage and energy services.

National and international nongovernmental organizations can be important tools for the financing of inputs and technologies to families in vulnerable economic situations. They will also serve as support for the fortification of this project and expansion to other areas of need, like other cities and countries in Latin America.

Educational institutions may support the development and implementation of community-based research laboratories, and may operate in public high schools, as a way to approach and encourage student participation in environmental awareness actions and development of new solutions for the coping with climate change.

The mobilized communities will also be able to contribute to the fortification of good social practices that encourage the sustainable development of their localities, as well as the improvement of the quality of life and reduction of environmental impacts from the mismanagement of our natural resources.

Where will these actions be taken?

The project aims to reach not only the cities of Brazil, but also other countries in Latin America, such as Mexico, Peru, Colombia, areas that lack social and environmental impact initiatives related to solutions for poor housing and adaptation to sustainable, resilient and climate-resilient organisms. Initially the project aims to work in areas of urban precariousness in Brazil, in the case of peripheries and favelas. As the project consolidates, it can expand its operations to other countries. In Brazil, there are around 11.5 million people living in 3.2 million substandard housing, according to data from IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) released in 2013. According to a UN report of 2012, 111 million people live in subnormal settlements in Latin America. This demonstrates that there is a very extensive and urgent field of work to intervene in areas that demand improvements that directly affect the development and sustainable development of our cities.

What are other key benefits?

• Reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases per housing unit, mainly methane gas, from residential solid waste, one of the biggest polluters and cause of the greenhouse effect;

• Stronger, collaborative, and resilient communities;

• Young people being trained and contributing to the development of solutions to our cities related to climate change;

• Families in situations of economic vulnerability benefiting from the collective financing network to provide resources for the construction, remodeling and adaptation of simple dwellings in self-sustaining housing;

• Reduction of the consumption of drinking water provided by the public supply network;

• Reduction of water flow to the rainwater system through the capture of the same by the dwellings and relief of the urban disturbances with floods;

• Reduction of solid waste sent to landfills;

• More green spaces in communities.

What are the proposal’s costs?

A) Initial costs for the first year of operation, using the minimum resources and in partnership with Startups for the installation of sustainable technologies in the dwellings:

- Company opening and rental fees (Coworking) = US $ 3,605.01

- Equipment = US $ 4,702.19

- Hiring of human resources = US $ 6,783.70

- Construction of the site and platform of collective financing = US $ 6,269.59

- Marketing actions = US $ 4,075.23

Total of the 1st Phase: US $ 25,435.72

B) Costs to increase the actions for the second and third year, now operating with own equipment and materials for execution of small works:

- Site maintenance and collective financing platform = US $ 3,134.80

- New marketing campaigns = US $ 2,507.84

- Rental of own physical space and furniture = US $ 6,269.59

- Human Resources = US $ 22,457.68

- Inputs for execution of 20 adaptation works of rainwater harvesting systems (pipes, gutters and cisterns) = US $ 12,539.18

- Inputs for the execution of 15 green ceilings and vegetable gardens, coupled with the rainwater harvesting system (system for the green roof, pipes and cisterns) = US $ 15,673.98

Total of the 2nd Phase: US $ 62,583.07


Time line

5-15 years: In this period, it will be possible to begin the implementation of the project in Brazilian cities in dialogue and partnership with local public, private and non-governmental spheres, in addition to collaborating with international organizations to broaden the scope of the proposal.

15-50 years: In this period, with the project already consolidated in Brazil, it will be possible to replicate the concept to other Latin American countries in partnership with local development agencies and financing entities.

50-100 years: In this period it will be possible to extend the scope of the project to other countries in the world, beyond Latin America and establish the concept of self-sustainability housing in places of high social vulnerability.

Related proposals


1. While cities are the biggest cause of climate change on the planet, investment in sustainable development in them may be the key to reversing this current picture.
 Available at: in January January 2018

2. Experts advocate the use of renewable energy to reduce impacts such as the emission of greenhouse gases and global warming. Available at: in January 2018
3. Climate change will become one of the greatest challenges to human health. Available at:,mudanca-do-clima-e-um-dos-maiores-desafios-a-saude-humana,1755393Accessed in February 2018

4. Brazil's agreements with international organizations to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Available at: C3% A7a-do-clima Access in February 2018

5. Housing at the center of the proposal for the development of smart cities.
Available at: in February 2018

6. IBGE - Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. 2013

7. UN - United Nations. State of the Cities of Latin America and the Caribbean. 2012

8. UN-Habitat. World Report on Human Settlements. 2013

9. UN-Habitat. State of the World's Cities. 2012/2013

10. UN-Habitat. The Economic Role of Cities. 2011.