Sustainability in action
Region: Sierra Leone
Fenwick Elliott have been providing pro bono assistance to CODEP, an education and development charity in Sierra Leone. The charity is helping construct a library and resources centre in response to a request made by the community of Waterloo. One key issue was how to make the project sustainable.
A number of solutions were offered, as a result of advice provided by the project team and local people. These included:
- Location: the building is intended to form the final boundary to a new town square. This new public space will be framed by five important community institutions - the library, the court, the council house and the school and church - creating a central gathering place for Waterloo;
- Concrete structure: the team chose concrete as the primary construction material as it is already widely used within Sierra Leone. This will enable the project to benefit from contractor familiarity with the material and provide better opportunities to improve construction techniques and quality. The project uses local resources wherever possible to build skill capacity
- Energy efficiency: the library has been designed to require low energy consumption during its design life. The key to this is provision of solar shading, maximising natural light and using the concrete structure to cool the building naturally;
- Power: the lack of a reliable grid network means a local energy source is required for lighting and computers. Solar power will be utilised when power is required via a large photovoltaic array connected to a battery bank;
- Ease of construction: the whole design is aimed at being in line with current capabilities in Sierra Leone rather than importing unknown and unworkable technologies;
- Water: will be supplied through a bore-hole that allows for provision throughout the dry season;
- Waste: toilet waste will flow into a reed bed filtering system;
- Finishes: are all simple and locally available to ensure easy and low cost maintenance.
Still under construction, the education and resources centre is intended to become a centre for the development of literacy in the region.