Affordable housing

As Africa’s urban transformation continues, Saint-Gobain has a key role to play in providing solutions for quality and decent housing for all.

Urban growth in Africa supports the birth and extension of precarious housing and informal settlements.
Most households cannot access formal housing because it is beyond the financial means of the average household. Consequently, less than ten per cent of the population in many African cities can afford to live in formal housing. This results in unsustainable living conditions.

Meeting the challenges of sustainability 

Building energy-efficient homes to lower utility bills

The majority of sub-Saharan homes are currently self‐built with traditional or semi-permanent materials. These materials vary in each country, but typically include mud, wood, plants, straw, clay, and sheet metal.

To build energy-efficient homes at affordable rates, Saint-Gobain provides a wide range of solutions. These include:

  • Interior and exterior materials for ceilings, flooring and roofs such as glasswool insulation, plasters and plasterboards that help to reduce unwanted heat losses or gains, and unwanted interior condensation.
  • Glass in windows and facades that let sun enter the building or block it. Saint-Gobain provides a reflective, solar control glass produced in Africa (Egypt) for small and medium projects as well as low-end residential projects. Safety and solar control window films are also an economic and flexible solution to improve thermal comfort. They provide more privacy as well as improving safety and security.

Reducing water usage and wastage during the construction process

Sweeping climatic and environmental changes have considerably reduced fresh water quantity over the past 20 years, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
Saint-Gobain offers dry wall construction housing solutions that cut down on on-site waste and water usage. The use of dry-walling systems with plaster is more water efficient than traditional brick and mortar construction. Comparison on the use of water for the two systems on-site reveals that:

Brickwork/framework would take:

  • 8 l per square metre – single skin wall
  • 17 l per square metre – double skin wall
  •  6 l per square metre for plastering/jointing

Dry-walling solutions require a minimal amount of water on site:

  • 0.2 l per square metre - for jointing
  • 0.8 l per square metre at 3mm skim

Saint-Gobain dry-walling solutions are made lightweight to facilitate ease of installation. Dry wall solutions reduce construction time and the mess and ground pollution associated with wet mortar construction.

Comfort for all in the affordable housing sector

Thermal comfort

Saint-Gobain solutions seek to alleviate the need for continuous temperature adjustments, which directly affect the energy consumption in a home.

These solutions include: 

  • Drywall systems that enhance the thermal performance of the building envelope, which supports the thermal comfort of the occupants. The thermal conductivity of plasterboard is up to four times less than that of brickwork.
  • Solar control glass and window films that filter solar energy as needed.
  • Fibre-cement roof sheets and boards to provide thermal comfort.
  • Interior wall and ceiling insulation materials, such as glass and mineral wool, that help to reduce unwanted heat losses or gains and maintain a comfortable internal temperature.
  • Plaster on the interior walls to assist with the control of condensation.

Acoustic comfort

Although not first to be considered in low-cost construction, acoustic comfort is fundamental for the overall wellbeing of people (sleep quality and productivity).
Saint-Gobain provides solutions to reduce noise from external and internal sources, including drywall and ceiling systems to reduce noise from external sources.

  • A brick wall = Rw43 - Rw49 dB, versus drywall insulation system = Rw39 – Rw81 dB.

Indoor air quality comfort

Ventilation needs to be taken into account in the design before starting the building process. Most formal housing units are built with ventilation as an afterthought. Inadequate ventilation may affect the health of the inhabitants.

To improve indoor air quality, Saint-Gobain provides tailored solutions: 

  • Waterproofing coatings for under-tile waterproofing that protect against water penetration and rising damp.
  • Ceilings and roof membranes.
  •  Insulation, dry-lining, facade, wall and/or floor coverings with low emissions.

Visual comfort

Without light, there would be virtually no life. For humankind, light has always been closely associated with warmth, safety, health, and happiness. A visual connection to the outside world through exterior views is crucial for an optimal sense of wellbeing, even for low-cost construction.

In the affordable housing sector, visual comfort can be brought into play through a range of Saint-Gobain solutions: 

  • Glass or window films that allow access to daylight and views through windows, doors, partitions, and roofs without allowing too much heat ingress or heat loss.
  • Interior products – such as wall coverings, ceilings, or flooring, that can contribute to the distribution of daylight and to the aesthetic of a space

Modular comfort

Building using modular systems in the affordable housing sector vastly reduces material waste and facilitates speed of construction as well as ease of transportation.

These solutions include: 

•  Lightweight drywall systems for speed of construction: By comparison, when you build a single skin brick wall (110-115 mm), you are able to complete 16 square metres of brick wall per day. With single layer of plasterboard fixed to a single framework, you are able to accomplish 58 square metres per day. The quality is also better, as components are factory-fabricated and standardised and therefore less dependent on the skill of workers. When construction is quick and definite, it is possible to save up to 20 to 30 per cent on labour costs, compared with brickwork. The weight of the material plays a major role in transporting and handling of material on-site. The heavier the material, the more time and energy it requires to erect and handle.
•  Fibre-cement roof sheets and boards for ease of installation.
•  Expanded polystyrene boards to provide water impermeable insulation for frame construction housing and floor insulation.
•  Modular ceiling boards with insulation that facilitate installation and reduce material waste.

Further information: Fire, safety, security and maintenance requirements in the affordable housing sector.

Did you know ?

Interior and exterior materials for ceilings, flooring and roofs such as glasswool insulation, plasters and plasterboards help to reduce unwanted heat losses or gains, and unwanted interior condensation.