Local man heads to Indonesia to build green homes | NevadaAppeal.com

Local man heads to Indonesia to build green homes

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

With the help of a 63-year-old man from Silver Springs, thousands of tsunami survivors will have new homes that are more likely to weather future storms.

Ron Bell, a green building consultant and retired engineer, is contracting with an environmentally friendly builder to teach Indonesians how to construct homes out of concrete-coated Styrofoam and wire mesh panels, called Green Sandwich panels. The panels are made of recycled materials and can withstand high winds and earthquakes.

“The tsunami took out 100,000 homes in Indonesia, and this project – financed by the Indonesian government – is to rebuild 1,000 homes,” Bell said Wednesday.

The Asian Tsunami, which hit on Dec. 26, 2004, is considered one of the deadliest disasters in modern history. It inundated South and Southeast Asia coasts and killed more than 230,000, according to Wikipedia.

All the 220-square-foot homes will contain one or two small bedrooms, a bathroom, and a ventilation system. Indonesian families cook outside and often store their food on ropes that hang from the ceiling, which is to help keep the food away from rodents. The homes will cost less than $3,300 each.

Green Sandwich panels can withstand category-5 hurricane force wind, which is in excess of 170 mph, and earthquakes measuring up to 8 on the Richter scale.

Bell will first travel to New Orleans to train workers there to build panel homes for hurricane survivors. His work on the southernmost island of Indonesia, the town of Aceh, will span most of November. The Indonesians he trains will teach other groups and expand the rebuilding effort.

“It’s unique to be 63 and still be wanted,” Bell said.

Steve Olson, chief financial officer for Green Sandwich Technologies, based out of North Hollywood, said this is the start of a one-million-home project.

“People over there live in shacks and these are substantial units that are not going to fall down. They are small, but the Indonesian government is giving these units to the people,” he said.

Bell secured the $10,000 consulting job because of his work building a green home in Texas using the Styrofoam panels.

“I think this is a great opportunity,” Bell said. “Although I’m getting paid for it, it’ll be a great experience to help the people and give them the training they need.”

This is the Silver Springs man’s first time overseas as a green building consultant. Bell will live in a native hut and will be trailed by a translator and military escort.

“Any country that guarantees you’ll have a military escort, that makes you a little nervous,” he said.

He was assured of one fact: There are no headhunters on that particular island.

Visit builder Green Sandwich Technologies at http://www.greensandwichtech.com.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.