A crew of five young people and their supervisor have worked for almost three weeks on a new community learning center addition for the Palomas public library. The progress is remarkable. The new handicap accessibility ramp is finished, and the papercrete walls of the classroom are almost complete. Builders will start the roof this week: three barrel arches made of ferro cement and insulated with papercrete panels.
In addition to providing a new learning center for the community, this project will serve as an ongoing demonstration of several sustainable technologies that could improve building methods in Palomas. Papercrete costs about the same per square foot as cement blocks and yet has an R value (insulation capability) that is far superior. That means the new building addition will stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer – thereby reducing heating and cooling costs. It also has better soundproofing qualities and is lighter.
One challenge with ferro cement, however, is that it’s a little tricky to learn the process of working with it. But after this project, six people from Palomas will know how to do it. We might hope that one day ferro cement roofing could eventually become a business.
“We need money to complete the addition and hire a staff person,” stated Edmunds. “We are applying for a grant from Rotary International for equipment but if anyone has ideas for other sources of equipment we could use more ideas.”