The modular rooftop uses cardboard waste and natural binders to make a lightweight panel that’s insulated with a coating that makes it waterproof.
The vast majority of small shacks comprising the slums of Ahmedabad, India are covered with thin metal roofs that are great at trapping heat. In temperatures that exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, these housing units can get unbearably hot, rendering the inhabitants to spend most of their time outside their homes. In an effort to provide a solution, a local startup has developed modular roofing panels made from paper and wood waste that can help keep homes cooler.
When Hasit Ganatra started ReMaterials, the startup that makes the Modroof, he spoke with hundreds of families living in slums across four states in India and found that most of their rooftops were made from either thin corrugated metal sheets or thin concrete slabs.
“We would go to villages and slums and see people spending time outside of their house on summer afternoons, and they’d say, ‘This house is like an oven. We can’t stay inside,’” says Ganatra. Heat strokes are also common and are expected to happen more often as temperatures increase due to climate change.
Air conditioners may seem like a solution, but the cooling technology is not only unaffordable for many, but it also has a huge negative impact on the environment. Modroof, on the other hand, offers a sustainable solution by simply redesigning a part of the building.
The modular rooftop uses cardboard waste and natural binders to make a lightweight panel that’s insulated with a coating that makes it waterproof. An additional metal structure makes it strong, while the insulation, along with an air gap inside the panel, helps keep heat out. In tests, Ganatra found that Modroof was able to decrease the temperature of a home by as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Currently, the roofs are more expensive than cheap metal sheeting but cost less than concrete slabs because they’re easier to install. The startup has partnered with microfinance services to offer loans and make the roof accessible to more people. Over the last few years, about 500 families have installed a Modroof over their heads.