The world's population is already approaching 7 billion and could be nearly 9 billion by 2050, but even now there are over 1.1 billion people living in inadequate housing and more than 100 million people worldwide are homeless. According to the United Nations, around 21 million new housing units are required each year to accommodate the growth in the world's population. The development of this initiative requires an economic solution to provide the right elements, such as land, materials and work force to adapt in each country. What's needed is a new approach to construction that's affordable, durable, environmentally-friendly, and easily adaptable to different needs.
In 2008, the Tecucel River in Romania flooded and destroyed more than 300 homes, and this was the catalyst for a new partnership between the ArcelorMittal Foundation and the NGO Habitat for Humanity. ArcelorMittal took an existing Habitat for Humanity design and turned it into a simple lightweight steel housing frame that could be quickly deployed to help those affected by the Romanian floods.
Soon afterwards, the ArcelorMittal Foundation and Habitat for Humanity signed a partnership agreement to further develop the steel frame to provide safe and affordable homes in countries where both ArcelorMittal and Habitat for Humanity have a presence. The partnership covers designing, funding and volunteering by ArcelorMittal and their employees. Habitat for Humanity reaches selected low income families through a type of micro-credit structure, coordinating the volunteer effort.
After three months of development a prototype ‘Casa Buna' - or ‘Good House'- was ready for construction. This ‘flat-pack' two-storey building can house four families and has at least a 20-year life span. It can be easily assembled by volunteers, and requires little more than screws and bolts, which are easily available in most countries. It's also more sustainable than other designs in that it's energy-efficient, earthquake and hurricane resistant, and can be easily disassembled. The components can then be recycled almost indefinitely.
As mentioned earlier, ArcelorMittal is also hoping to adapt the ‘Casa Buna' model for use in Central America. The aim is to use steel structures like this to build more affordable and durable homes, especially in countries that are prone to earthquakes and hurricanes.
The ArcelorMittal Foundation has helped Habitat for Humanity to build three new ‘Casa Buna' homes in Romania, and is also supporting house building, renovations and environmental improvements in many other countries, such as Argentina, Costa Rica and South Africa. ArcelorMittal Foundation is expanding its partnership with Habitat for Humanity during 2010 to Mexico, and Ukraine.
More recently, ArcelorMittal Construction has been developing an innovative green housing solution - the Novellis Pavilion - which is a commercial prototype based on the Casa Buna model. Built in partnership with Geoxia, the first house was inaugurated in November 2009 in Florange, France.