Incredible Low-Income Housing in Colombia is Made from Coffee Waste

A Bogota-based construction company has come up with an astounding solution to Colombia's housing crisis—using its most valuable export.

Woodpecker attempted to develop materials from a variety of sources—rice fiber, palm fronds, sawdust, and even recycled plastic—eventually settling on none other than coffee husk.

Coffee husk is not only abundant in availability, but the material is also resistant to insects, water, and fire. The biggest benefit of utilizing coffee husk? It would no longer end up in landfills, adding to Colombia's methane emissions.

"We saw that there was a huge necessity for a lightweight construction system for housing and classrooms in rural and isolated places where traditional construction systems cannot go—like bricks, cement, and concrete," said Alejandro Franco, Woodpecker's CEO.

The prefabricated "casa kits" must be able to be loaded and transported onto either helicopters, small boats, or the back of a donkey. Each kit consists of lightweight steel frames that can be assembled with minimal tools, as well as coffee husk boards that can be attached to the frames without nails or screws.

After a category 5 hurricane hit the Colombian island of Providence last fall, the company donated two complete houses to the community.

"The system worked perfectly considering that there was no energy supply, the soil was muddy, the airport damaged, no food, etc.—all the problems that you can imagine," Franco said. "We think our houses are an excellent solution for the housing crisis there."

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