“Addressing the urgent social issues of homelessness and access to renewable energy sources”

Global & Regional Jury Report – Asia Pacific

Last updated: November 13, 2021 Eclepens, Switzerland

Project description by regional jury

Homelessness is a global policy problem that, in the Philippines alone, impacts more than 30 million people. The powerHYDE project aims to contain this social problem in Minalin, 70km north of Manila, by suggesting a self-financing model that combines social housing for homeless families with a solar plant that would produce and sell energy to finance the homes. Conceived to provide adequate living conditions to 125 homeless families, the design turns the rooftops of the houses into a mini 2.5 MW photovoltaic plant able to generate 25 times more electricity than the residential complex will use. After the expiration of the renewable energy commitment, residents will become the new homeowners and continue to earn passive income through the sale of energy, which represents a tangible opportunity for vulnerable people to emerge out of poverty.

The residential units are designed as a zero-discharge and all-in-one infrastructure solution. Besides relying on solar energy, they also include water harvesting and grey-water treatment systems as well as vegetable gardens. Furthermore, a dry assembly structure allows the use of materials during construction to be minimized. Other programmatic elements are included in the project, such as a school, a health center, shops, parks and other essential infrastructure, which makes the community a self-sufficient entity for jobs, education and health care. The project also represents an important step forward in terms of social sustainability by becoming an opportunity for the empowerment of women, as homes are officially owned by the woman in each household.

Regional jury appraisal

The Holcim Awards jury Asia Pacific was impressed by the project’s ability to successfully and creatively bring together different stakeholders to address two urgent societal issues: homelessness and access to renewable energy sources. Ensuring at the same time the economic viability of housing for vulnerable people and the energy supply in remote locations, the powerHYDE community was considered an innovative business model that simultaneously addresses poverty and energy, making it highly transferable accelerator of sustainability.

Global jury appraisal

The jury found the way the project address homelessness by introducing a new business model to combine housing with sources of livelihood to low-income people both relevant and creative. This self-financing system will enable vulnerable families to have a trajectory out of poverty in one single generation and help them achieve lower-middle income standards. The solution as a twofold aim: to contain a social problem and to generate significant quantities of clean energy, which was considered as a great sustainable opportunity for vulnerable people to achieve financial independence and contribute to climate change mitigation. The jury perceived this initiative to be a highly transferable project model that can be replicated in other developing countries and beyond.