Buildup Nepal: Replacing Traditional Fired Bricks with Eco-friendly Bricks

Buildup Nepal: Replacing Traditional Fired Bricks with Eco-friendly Bricks

In the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, a catastrophic event that left countless homes and buildings in ruins, the nation faced a dire need for rebuilding and recovery. Amidst this devastation, Björn Söderberg and Bina Shrestha, a dedicated husband-and-wife team, saw an opportunity to not only rebuild but also to empower local communities with a sustainable and eco-friendly solution.

In the midst of this destruction, Björn Söderberg and Bina Shrestha, a husband-and-wife duo, grappled with the question of how to aid the rural families profoundly impacted by the earthquake. Rather than merely seeking to raise funds for the reconstruction of  few homes or schools, they envisioned a sustainable business model that would empower local communities to construct homes on their own. It became apparent, through conversations with affected families, that the dream of living in a brick house was shared by all, but the cost was a formidable barrier. It was in response to this challenge that Buildup Nepal was born, with a mission to make bricks eco-friendly and affordable for everyone.

Buildup Nepal is a catalyst for change, empowering entrepreneurs and communities to create their own eco-friendly Compressed Stabilized Earth Bricks (CSEB) to  build earthquake-resistant homes. They achieve this providing the necessary machinery, training and long-term support. CSEB bricks, made from a mixture of stone dust and cement, are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional bricks. These advantages are manifold, including a 30% reduction in construction costs and a remarkable reduction of approximately 75% in CO2 emissions compared to conventional fired bricks. To date, Buildup Nepal has supported over 306 entrepreneurs across Nepal to build over 8,600 houses which has contributed to the reduction in CO2 emissions by 86,386 tons.

Buildup Nepal offers a comprehensive range of quality CSEB brick machines to cater to the diverse needs of the entrepreneurs. Their Manual Interlocking Brick Single Mold Machine is ideal for low-scale production in remote locations, producing 600 bricks per day. The Multi-Mold Brick Machine offers versatility, producing four types of bricks and pavers at a rate of 800 bricks per day. For cost-effective production, the Small Interlocking Brick Factory Setup reduces labor costs and produces up to 800 bricks per day. The CSEB Hydraulic Machines are efficient, producing 1500 bricks daily with mold interchangeability. Meanwhile, the Hydraulic Factory Setup is perfect for commercial production, with capacity of 2000 bricks per day.

Each machine comes with a comprehensive on-site training that covers key aspects of efficient brick production, including mixing of materials, machine operation and production, quality control and business training. Additionally, Buildup Nepal also provides hands-on masons training, which combines theory with practical training, involving the masons in building their first house. The training encompasses various topics, including foundation and disaster resistance, walls and beams, RCC & load bearing structures and designing buildings with interlocking bricks.

Buildup Nepal's unwavering dedication to sustainable and low-carbon housing solutions has earned them well-deserved recognition and accolades. They were selected as one of the top six solutions by MIT Solve in their 2023 Global Challenges, which sought innovative, technology-based solutions for creating low-carbon housing accessible to all. In addition, Buildup Nepal has received the 2023 Lipman Family Grand Prize and the Keeling Curve Prize 2023 for their groundbreaking work in replacing fired bricks with eco-friendly CSEB bricks in Nepal.

As one of the cohort companies of the USAID Business Accelerator Clean Air, Buildup Nepal has set ambitious goals for the future. Their aim is to support 1500 entrepreneurs in building 100,000 homes by 2028. In doing so, the company plans to replace 3% of traditional fired bricks, reducing Nepal’s CO2 emissions by 1%. To support Buildup Nepal in achieving its goal, USAID Clean Air supporting in setting up a Credit Guarantee Fund to provide micro-entrepreneurs with access to finance for purchasing CSEB machines.

Additionally, the program is assisting the company in piloting an innovative CSEB brick production machine that can produce CSEB bricks with reduced cement usage, maintaining the traditional brick’s shape and size while offering a more cost-effective solution, specially designed for construction of houses in Kathmandu valley and urban areas. The program is also supporting the company in developing a targeted digital marketing campaign for the promotion of CSEB bricks and generating leads for the sale of CSEB machines.