Glass Bottles, Earthen Plaster and Bamboo: An Innovative way to Build and Heal

Glass Bottles, Earthen Plaster and Bamboo: An Innovative way to Build and Heal

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

A building method that uses glass bottles, earthen plaster and bamboo to construct small homes in Kathmandu, Nepal. A proven technique (photographs included) this labor-intensive, financially inexpensive urban development initiative creates jobs, gives intrinsic value to glass bottles and shredded paper in a part of the world where these are usually littered about, and provides structurally sound homes to those at the bottom of the pyramid. Additionally, the project harnesses the potential of those suffering (lepers, homeless, jobless), and includes them in them in the building process. The homes are beautiful. By using glass bottles as the primary mass, passive solar light filters through the walls, creating a peaceful, restful space in which to live.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Krishna is exploring all aspects of helping to make his village sustainable, which will then allow the village to absorb social ills - disease, joblessness, family problems, among others – and provides shelter, services and work for those he serves. Women, children, and the environment at large are undoubtedly his core focus. Our project is critical because the Foundation at large, of which this new development project is a core component, provides a sense of belonging for otherwise ostracized Nepalese. The village is a place for them to work inwardly, and outwardly at creating positive change in their lives, and to contribute to the betterment of their neighbors while doing so.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Although other submissions include building with waste, this building technique is unique in that it combines energy intensive, environmentally degrading goods (glass in country where recycling is scarce, and paper in a world losing trees by the millions), with the rawest materials, most plentiful and replenishing materials in Kathmandu (dirt, straw and bamboo). Hence, environmental needs are addressed throughly, and in a unique manner. Bamboo grows very quickly, and when grown and harvested in responsible ways and transported minimal distances it is one of the "greenest" building materials available. The organization's founder, Krishna, used a bamboo construction specialist for his first build, and it is his hope to train others in the same way. If scaled up in quantitative ways, our project could create an entire local, micro-industry of bamboo production and supply. Glass bottles, usually littered or ending up in landfills, serve as the primary building mass. By lining them like bricks, staggered and layered, they offer strength and beauty. And the earthen plaster brings it all together. Made from dirt, clay, sand, straw and shredded paper, this mixture is applied in between layers of glass bottles. The last way in which this project perfectly aligns with the mission of this competition, is that it is an all-encompassing, socially uplifting initiative. We intentionally cater to the needs of those without a voice, and by including them in this project and the other healing mechanisms Krishna has built, the community at large is greatly served.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Initial signs of success are most prevalent in Krishna’s ability to unify the village towards a hopeful future. Krishna develops all projects with the village, molding them around the needs of his community. He cares deeply for them, and the mutual respect is very apparent to those who have visited. More concretely, his latest project, building from waste, has shown promise through the successful completion of a model home, of which there are photographs in this application. Over three weeks, a team piloted the building method, and in doing so attracted a lot of local publicity and enthusiasm. The building method is a proven. It works. And with all the momentum Krishna has gained through his successful implementation of other community-serving endeavors – biodynamic farming, healing workshops for lepers, and jewelry production from soap nuts – Krishna is well positioned to take his Foundation to the next level. In sum, the success to date is measured through the love and appreciation shown by those Krishna serves, but the success to come will be measured in the number of jobs created, homeless people housed, and amount (mass and weight) of waste matter put to use. Additionally, by tying together his many projects into a larger social enterprise the organization will be able to incorporate better metrics for success. That is, in its current stage their are many promising projects in seed phase. If Krishna, and our organization, gained access to resources provided by organizations like Ashoka, however, the impact of our work would multiply tenfold.
About You
Kevin Rohan Eco Memorial Foundation
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Kevin Rohan Eco Memorial Foundation

Organization Phone

00977 1 4430 623

Organization Address

Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation Chalnakhel-5, Khahare Kathmandu, Nepal

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Krishna Gurung grew up in a leprosy community in Nepal because both of his parents suffered from the disease. As a child he received a scholarship to go to school, and became and eventually became a physical therapist. Krishna opened a Clinic in Nepal to treat people with leprosy, and while working with his patients he found that while he could help them heal physically they were still ostracized from their communities. He realized that to be able to sustain the treatment he had given them, they needed to become integrated members of society. This idea grew into a remarkable sustainable community/eco-village for the disabled & handicapped:”Shanti Sewa Griha” (Peaceful Helping Home in Nepalese). Krishna co- founded The Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation (KRMEF) project with his wife Leela and other friends in memory of their late son, Kevin Rohan Gurung, who tragically and physically left the earth at the age of seven years old on the 21st of December, 2008. In honor of his Son, Krishna and his family are bringing a new social impulse to the village of Khahare, Chalnakhel Khahare, Chalnakhel, The Work of the KRMEF extends to all aspects of life, from providing free health care, scholarships for children to go to school, a biodynamic garden, and Eco friendly housing which works creatively with the resources available.

Social Impact
How many people have been impacted by your project?

101 - 1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?


What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Time, or lack thereof. Each of Krishna’s projects can be developed more fully, but the need is more pressing daily and there is a sense of urgency to act with greater speed and effectiveness. On the other hand, something that Krishna often emphasizes is the organic evolution of his projects, and the beauty therein. Each one has deep roots, and the success of each can be attributed to the natural processes of their creation.

Finances are also holding the project back. With an injection of resources, allocated carefully and with the intention of achieving financial sustainability, the project could launch into the next phase of its growth, employing more people, housing more families, and healing more sick Nepalese.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Over the next three years we hope to develop all aspects of creating a sustainable village, so that by 2014 it can serve as a model for other neighboring villages. Other programs in germination stage include an orphanage - a house has been selected, and work will begin once funds accrued; expanding jewelry and craft production and sales – teaching workshops to make products more marketable; implementing storm water management - strategies have been identified and a comprehensive plan will be developed this summer as observing the monsoons, and education - English classes through creative models such as watching movies with same language subtitles.

For each selection, please explain the financial and non-financial support from each

Individuals – Individuals support KREMF through their volunteer efforts. A voluntarism program is in development which will bring labor and education to the Foundation’s work free of charge, and in some cases volunteers will pay as much as $30/day for their experiences.

Regional Government: The municipal government in Nepal has granted Krishna land on which to build these homes. Additionally, it is from the embassys that paper waste and glass bottles are often delivered. They have not financially subsidized him, but their resources are valued greatly.

Customers – The foundation produces goods that appeal to local and foreign consumers alike. When recently in the United States, Krishna sold over a thousand dollars worth of locally produced jewelry; enough to sustain his Foundation for 6 months. Their support is strictly financial.

How do you plan to grow and/or diversify your base of support in the next three years?

With website development and international sales strategies it is the hope of the Foundation to sell the jewelry and other locally made products with greater consistency. Furthermore, the organization is striving to move away from donor-dependency to financial independence. The best way to do this is by incorporating business principles into our work. Because our work aims to serve those the needy and oppressed, the model is inherently social enterprise. Lastly, I have recently nominated Krishna as an Ashoka Fellow. If he is awarded the fellowship, the resources made available by your organization would enable ours to grow in extraordinary ways.

Please select your areas of intervention in the home improvement market

Design, Technology, Labor, Sanitation, Green housing, Environment, Income generation, Urban development.

Is your innovation addressing barriers in the home improvement/progressive housing market? If so, please describe in detail your mechanisms of intervention

Yes. We are intervening to house the needy and heal the sick through green building design and construction as well as through workshops and micro-enterprises. Although we have not yet finalized what our economic model will look like, we are exploring ways to create income streams whilst providing homes to those without them at low or no cost. One possibility is sponsorship from those who can afford it, another is employing the homeless to build their own homes. Krishna is already known in his community for serving, and therefore he does not need to actively recruit people to serve. Instead, they come to him.

Are you currently collaborating with private companies, or have you partnered with private companies in the past? With which companies?

Yes. Two companies in particular are collaborating with KREMF. One is Helicon Works, a Washington, D.C. based architect firm that specializes in ecologically sensitive building methods. William Hutchins, the principal architect, works very closely with the organization and led the first build in October 2010 in Kathmandu, Nepal. He also assists Krishna by hosting presentation nights from his Washington home, where friends and others interested in Krishna’s work can listen, learn, and offer their own perspectives of the best ways to move forward.

The second company collaborating with KREMF is a Washington-based graphic design firm. They have offered pro-bono services to help Krishna develop his website more fully.

Please describe in detail the nature of the partnership(s)

These partnerships have great potential, but do date they are still in the early stages of collaboration.

Select the unit(s) with which the partnership was formed

Marketing department.