Good news! With funding help from our partner Lush-UK, Ghana Permaculture Network has secured 24.5 acres (10.2 hectares) of land in the Ghana-Brong Ahafo region – Techiman. we are now building the Ghana Permaculture Institute. When we have finished this place will be a large training and demonstration centre where students can come for courses and long-term internships to fully learn from the examplar Permaculture systems here.
The first phase of the project on the land has involved drilling a borehole for water, and the construction of a base camp and infrastructure to accommodate Permaculturists on the site to implement phase 2.
The base camp has four bedrooms and one hall . The building construction has been completed.
We used local materials such as; earth bricks for side walls, clay tiles for roofing , cow manure and ash for plastering of the building and solar home system installation where one can charge his /her mobile phone and laptop computer which is ecologically friendly. This is to demonstrate ecological buildings to local communities in Ghana as well as students from abroad.
Ecological building methods use materials that:
- Are non-toxic and healthy for the people living in them
- Are obtained from the surrounding natural environment
- Do not use high amounts of energy to produce
- Can be easily recycled or reused at the end of the building’s life
Ecological building design also uses building designs that conserves energy – for example using trellised vegetation around the building for shade and cooling and to filter out dust instead of using an air conditioning unit that would consume electricity. We aim to minimise energy consumption in the building and then meet the energy needs using renewable energy.
This building has attracted attention of people in Ghana, especially people living with low income resources. This is because the materials are available to them on the land and are much cheaper than steel and concrete. By combining traditional natural materials with modern ecological building techniques we can achieve buildings that are comfortable, affordable, environmentally friendly and beautiful.
Many people think that to be modern you should build a house of concrete and metal, and that this means progress, but in reality these buildings can be hot and can have damp and mould problems where moisture cannot escape through the non-breathable materials. The materials are also expensive and use a lot of energy to produce – such as gas or coal burned in a cement factory which releases CO2 pollution that causes climate change.
The cement industry produces about 5% of global man-made CO2 emissions, of which 50% is from the chemical process, and 40% from burning fuel. The amount of CO2 emitted by the cement industry is nearly 900 kg of CO2 for every 1000 kg of cement produced. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cement#CO2_emissions)
How much more of this pollution would we have if everyone in the world built their house from cement and concrete? Cement is a wonderful and useful material in the right context, but we must use it sparingly and minimise its use wherever possible, especially where more environmentally friendly materials are available.
We have made our building blocks from the earth available on-site. At the same time we also dug a dam to harvest rainwater, using some of the earth extracted to make the bricks. This is a good permaculture example of getting multiple yields from work – “feeding two birds with one seed”.
Paul Yeboah explains how the “Landcrete” earth blocks are made.
Phase 2 of work will involve dam construction for water harvesting, growing crops and materials for essential oils using permaculture principles to generate income for the project. We will sell the essential oil materials to our partner Lush UK who make cosmetics. We will write another update about phase 2 soon!