Building Polystyrene Foam Homes to Preserve Forests in Kenya


In Kenya, a new building technology that uses recycled expanded polystyrene (EPS) is being promoted to help preserve the surrounding forests by creating eco-friendly homes. The EPS technology provides homeowners with a less expensive alternative and it also creates a way for Kenya to continue building without harming its local ecosystems.

Kenya’s Deteriorating Eco-system

Prior to the launch of EPS building panels, Kenyans would cut down trees for timber and mine quarries for stone to collect materials for the construction of their homes. Today, many people attribute the rise in Kenya’s environmental problems to the excessive harvesting of natural resources.

Converting people from expending natural resources to using EPS panels could have a significant, positive impact on the survival of Kenya’s forests and eco-systems.

Why Use EPS Panels?

EPS panels are created with a polystyrene core, covered in a steel wire mesh and lined with fiber cement on both sides. This combination of materials allows EPS built homes to be better insulated, stronger, and more earthquake-proof than traditional housing.

With EPS panels, a home can be built within a month, a third of the time required to build a stone home of equal stature. In addition, EPS panels are much less expensive than other building materials because they are made from recycled polystyrene foam products. Most importantly, the use of EPS panels does not disrupt or damage the Kenyan forests.

Looking Forward

To date, approximately 30,000 panel houses have been constructed in Kenya since the technology was first introduced in 2011. The National Housing Corporation, a government agency, hopes to develop about 150,000 housing units in Kenya, on an annual basis.

Kenya is not alone; an increasing number of countries are looking to reduce the use of wood to help restore their forest ecosystems.