Green Building in Afganistan flourishes with help of ‘Green Machine’


In a country that has been torn apart by civil strife over the past several decades, there is a new hope for those looking to rebuild their homes and lives.


Earlier this year, Geo-Building Technologies, LLC (GBT), a licensee of Amercian company TerraBuilt Corporation International (TerraBuilt), introduced a machine with a new technology that may revolutionise the construction industry in Afghanistan and developing countries around the world.


Simply called “The GreenMachine”, this piece of machinery is a portable, self-powered system designed to manufacture structural, precision-engineered tongue and groove compressed earth blocks.


The blocks, nicknamed “TerraBricks,” are made from subsoil and small amounts of either cement or lime, requiring no mortar for construction, and which cost less than half the price to produce as conventional kiln-fired bricks (currently the most popular building material in the region).


Not only are the TerraBricks affordable, but they exceed all United States code standards, and are far more energy-efficient to produce than concrete or kiln-fired bricks.


GBT began introducing the technology to the region in March 2008, and will gradually expand training and availability of the portable units.


Between 2002 and 2005, the private sector invested more than $2.5 billion dollars in the Afghan construction industry alone, and there is a need for further investment.


“Attracting foreign direct investment is critical to the reconstruction efforts and sustainable long-term economic growth of Afghanistan,” says Yukiko Omura, executive vice-president of the World Bank Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.


“There has already been a massive outpouring of interest in our GreenMachine TerraBrick technology,” GBT founder Rafaat Ludin says.


“We currently have orders for a number of rebuilding projects, including a Kabul housing complex, gymnasium, orphanage and a vocational training institute.


“Afghans deserve every opportunity to access affordable and sustainable building materials. We believe this is critical to their long-term success as a nation.”


In the United States, several large construction materials companies are showing an interest in the largely carbon-neutral TerraBricks as a cost-effective, energy-saving means of building green wall systems for housing or commercial buildings, landscaping and farm outbuildings.


To supply the huge potential demand for this kind of product in the United States market, TerraBuilt’s patented process technology would be used in high volume production plants, turning out millions of TerraBricks weekly for distribution to builders, contractors, developers and DIY people.


And, says TerraBuilt chief executive Stephen Keiley, “not only do TerraBricks provide a cost-effective solution for green building worldwide, but it also appears that they could provide the basis for packaging and selling carbon credits”.