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close this bookThe Basic of Biomass Roofing (GTZ - ITDG - SKAT - CRATerre-EAG, 1997, 36 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentGrass thatch
View the documentPalm thatch
View the documentWood tiles (shingles and shakes)
View the documentRoof sheets with organic fibres
View the documentTreatment of biomass materials: preservation
View the documentFire protection
View the documentSources of further information
View the documentKey questions
View the documentRecommendations
View the documentBASIN
View the documentBack cover

Sources of further information

Information about biomass roofing materials is available from many different sources. Traditional building methods, such as thatch and wood roof tiles are well documented in architectural and anthropological literature though coverage tends to concentrate on aesthetic or ethnographic aspects rather than the practicalities of roofing. It is not so easy to find published information about the current availability of organic materials for building; the literature focuses more on agriculture and agro-forestry.

In the past thirty years there has been considerable research into ways of improving the performance of traditional building techniques. Some of this research has resulted in significant improvements which have subsequently been adopted by the local construction industry. They are mentioned in the relevant chapters. However, newcomers to this topic should resist attempting to replicate proposals made in research papers unless they are certain that these techniques have stood the test of time. In particular, be wary of fire-proofing and preservative techniques for thatch; the evidence suggests that these are rarely economic and in some cases may be positively harmful. If in doubt, always seek advice from local experts in the building industry, universities, NGOs or government research institutes.

Where to look for information

Having decided that a particular technique or material justifies further investigation, start with the documents mentioned in the Further Information section of the relevant chapter. If local libraries are unable to obtain these, the BASIN Roofing Advisory Service will help. Information about BASIN is given at the end of this book.

The richest primary source of information is almost always local builders, building materials merchants and agro-forestry specialists. They will know which materials and techniques are traditionally used and should be able to give common-sense advice about any proposals for introducing new methods to existing markets.

Many national and international research institutes have locally relevant research and dissemination programmes about building. Most produce regularly updated bibliographies which cover organic materials and their construction uses. Many run an enquiry service and most have a range of publications. Of particular note are:

· Central Building Research Inst. Roorkee, 247 672, UP, India
· National Building Research Inst. PO Box 395, 001, Pretoria, South Africa.
· Lund Centre for Habitat Studies, Lund University PO Box 118, S-221 00, Lund, Sweden
· BASIN advisory service. SKAT has special expertise on roofing.

Literature about Roofing


· Links Between Population, Settlements and the Environment: A Literature Review; Jill Wells, et al. School of Construction Economics and Management, South Bank University, London, 1994

An excellent and up-to-date review of literature on organic building materials which highlights evidence of declining availability in recent years. It draws on the experience of work in many countries aimed at preserving existing supplies and/or introducing exotic species for construction use. It includes a comprehensive reference list.

· Roofs in the Warm Humid Tropics of South East Asia; G. Landaeta and S. Larsson. Lund Committee on Habitat and Development Studies, Sweden, 1987.

This report concentrates on SE Asia, but much of the information is relevant to other tropical regions. It includes a thorough bibliography on key sources (up to 1987) about roofing around the world.

· Bibliography on Local Building Materials, Plant and Equipment; United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, Nairobi, Kenya.

General Publications

Practical information about each roofing technique is mentioned in each chapter. In addition, there are three publications which offer a thorough overview of building and roofing with locally manufactured or locally sourced materials.

· Appropriate Building Materials; R. Stulz and K. Mukerji. SKAT Publications (Switzerland) and IT Publications (UK), 1993

· Building Materials in Developing Countries; R.J.S. Spence and D.J. Cook. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester. UK, 1983

· Global Review of Traditional Roof Construction and General Discussion of Roof Types and Design Guidelines; Papers by K. Mukerji to the UNIDO Conference on Alternative Roofing Materials and Their Construction Technologies. Beijing, 1988.