Access to adequate housing is a universal human right. That is why the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has been working in Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) for many years to eliminate the housing gap through an extensive variety of options that range from direct housing construction, to support for housing social subsidies through credit lines to the development banks of the countries.
According to UN Environment supplementing the housing deficit in cities until 2020 would double the current level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Specifically, almost a quarter of the GHGs in LAC are due to the residential sector.
In this context, sustainable social housing that improves energy efficiency and reduces the consumption of resources appears like a great solution since it allows to reduce the GHG emissions of homes, improves thermal comfort for residents, and reduces costs in water and electricity bills.
This type of housing includes intelligent designs (attention to the orientation of the property, sunlight and solar protection, thermal insulation, and ventilation), low impact materials (zero-kilometer materials, recycled, and biodegradable), and technologies to optimize the use of natural resources (photovoltaic solar panels, solar thermal collectors, low energy consumption devices, and water recycling systems).
However, despite the enormous potential of sustainable social housing, the reality is that, at the moment, there are very few examples of this type of housing in our region.
The municipality of João Pessoa, in northeastern Brazil, has proposed to take advantage of an IDB loan to change the reality of social housing in its territory as part of its “João Pessoa Sustentável” program. The program comes as an operational concretization of the strategies chosen for the city within the framework of the “Plan of Ação João Pessoa Sustentável,” developed using the methodology of the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ICES).
As a first step to build sustainable social housing, a workshop was organized between technicians of the municipality, architecture studios of the region, and IDB staff where they sought to understand where the challenge lies so that social housing being built in Joao Pessoa not only includes elements of sustainability but also includes design.
And can you guess what was the result of the workshop? The answer to the challenge lies in the procurement process!
The truth is that this is not a result that surprised us at the IDB. During 2018 we published the document “Green Procurement: how to encourage green procurement practices in IDB funded projects?” In this document we highlighted the power of green procurement to achieve the expected impact of our projects and gave recommendations on how to take advantage of the programming cycle to achieve more sustainability in our projects.
Now the time has come to implement all the recommendations contained in the guide. For this, we want to take advantage of the need to build 675 housing units and we are working to do this through a purchase process that allows houses that finally incorporate elements of energy efficiency and water savings, and also have a differential design that makes people feel proud to live there.
By accompanying the municipality of João Pessoa in a different bidding process, we seek to generate inputs that in the future will allow us to replicate this process in other housing projects financed by the IDB. We hope to tell you about the progress of this joint work soon!
If you want to know more about green procurement practices click here.