Wood Houses Could Help Alleviate Latin American Housing Deficit

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Researchers in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment are investigating the market potential for wooden houses prefabricated in the United States as a way to help decrease the housing deficit in Latin America.

The research team from the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials traveled to Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia to determine the market for using wood in residential and commercial structures as well as the barriers that prevent the use of wood in social housing projects.

The current housing deficit in Central and South America is more than 42 million units; Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia have deficit rates of 78 percent, 50 percent, and 32 percent, respectively.

“There is also a substantial agreement among stakeholders in those countries to design and build more affordable housing solutions that use renewable materials, increase energy efficiency, and, in general, have low environmental impact,” said Henry Quesada, associate professor of wood science and a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist.

These structures, which could be manufactured in the U.S. to specific international standards, packed in containers, and exported around the world, would provide affordable housing with low environmental impact and ease of construction.

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