The Materials Book

38 8 Build Local Material Industries Using locally sourced materials—whether high- or low-tech—holds a number of social and economic benefits, and may also reduce the energy costs of transportation. In places where not all materials are available, this may mean prioritizing materials according to local availability and encouraging the development of local material industries. Developing countries still rely heavily on building-material imports. In Ethiopia, for example, more than 80 percent of construction material is imported. 1 While local material use reduces emissions and the expenditure of fossil fuels for transportation, this may be offset by less clean manufacturing—the embodied energy of concrete produced in Switzerland is lower than that of concrete produced in Brazil, for example. Thus, local material use will not always immediately result in a savings of embodied energy. Investing in local industry can, though, eventually give material supply chains the economic basis to become cleaner, making a long- term positive change to a community’s material flow. 1 Dirk Hebel, “The Vernacular Rediscovered: Applying Local Construction Technologies and Materials in Ethiopia,” in Reinventing Construction , ed. Ilka & Andreas Ruby (Berlin: Ruby Press, 2010), 311.

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