In the search for creative solutions to establish additional inexpensive living space quickly and economically, the town of Bergisch-Gladbach near Cologne, Germany, is working together with Leverkusen-based materials company Covestro and the French prefabricated home manufacturer Logelis to blaze new paths.
According to Covestro, the partners have agreed on the first step: to build a model house. Bergisch Gladbach’s Mayor, Lutz Urbach, Renaud Sassi from Logelis and Richard Northcote from Covestro recently signed an agreement to this effect in Bergisch-Gladbach.
“The influx of refugees is presenting our towns and communities with ever bigger challenges. In Bergisch-Gladbach, we see the collaboration with Covestro and Logelis as a possibility to accommodate asylum-seekers quickly and also humanely for a longer period of time,” said Urbach. Northcote, Chief Sustainability Officer at Covestro, explained, “The project is a pilot model. If it proves successful, it would be easy to apply it to other towns and communities in Germany and elsewhere.” Sassi, President of Logelis, added, “Our company was established four years ago, and its mission is to provide housing at an economical price.”
The model house in Bergisch Gladbach will be erected on the site of the container settlement behind the integrated comprehensive school in the district of Paffrath and will be used as a multi-function building. Logelis says it is made of self-supporting prefabricated elements with a polyurethane core. Although the elements have a relatively low overall wall thickness, they still fulfill the requirements of the German Energy Conservation ordinance (EnEV).
Rigid polyurethane foam is a material with outstanding insulating properties that result in significant energy savings and make the building a passive house. The elements can be varied in shape and size according to the wishes of the client, thus enabling a wide variety of different designs, ranging from simple box shapes to multi-story units.
While considered a pilot project in Germany, Covestro explains that it is not entirely new. For several years now, it has been supporting its industry partners in the Asia-Pacific region in projects involving the turnkey construction of cost-efficient housing units. The aim is to provide affordable, permanent living space to members of the underserved community, often in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Covestro adds that the concept can also be used for cold storage facilities that allow small farmers to improve the revenue from their harvests. “These projects naturally come at a price,” said Northcote. “But we have been developing new business models together with our partners in government, the private sector and civil society, and believe we can produce affordable solutions that will benefit both people and the planet, while delivering the necessary profit to ensure that we have a truly sustainable solution.”
“It has taken a lot of time to build the models, as well as the trust of the public sector and civil society,” said Northcote, “but we believe we are in a strong position to contribute more in our commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. It is precisely this win-win situation that has met with such interest in various countries on the Indian sub-continent and in Southeast Asia and put us on track for success.”
According to Covestro it is currently planning similar activities in the Middle East and Africa. The challenge everywhere is to persuade local companies to become partners in order to drive the projects forward with their respective areas of expertise. Until 2025, ten million people globally shall benefit from the sustainable solutions of Covestro.