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Base Bahay builds better homes… with bamboo

The organization is also a pioneer in bamboo construction, and particularly advocates for the use of Cement-Bamboo Frame technology, a combination of bamboo housing and conventional technology, which makes for a permanent and durable structure. According to Jorillo, this kind of technology is also more affordable, which makes it more accessible to low-income families in the country.



As the Philippines’ infrastructure industry continues to turn to sustainable solutions, one humble building material remains underutilized: bamboo. And with September as World Bamboo Month, a pioneer in bamboo construction renews its call for architects, engineers, and developers to reconsider this highly resilient and locally available raw material to create “a better future today.” 

“By using local resources customized to local needs, we can improve local economies, aid in the pursuit of a cleaner environment, and make good quality housing available to everyone regardless of social status,” says Pablo Jorillo, general manager of Base Bahay Foundation, a socially oriented non-profit established in 2014 as an initiative of the Hilti Foundation. Base utilizes local, renewable raw materials to create sustainable and resilient housing solutions, providing training, planning, supervision, and quality control across the value chain.

Alternative building technology that enables partner network builds

The organization is also a pioneer in bamboo construction, and particularly advocates for the use of Cement-Bamboo Frame technology, a combination of bamboo housing and conventional technology, which makes for a permanent and durable structure. According to Jorillo, this kind of technology is also more affordable, which makes it more accessible to low-income families in the country. 

The Cement-Bamboo frame technology merges Philippine tradition and innovation with Latin American and European engineering and is accredited by the Accreditation of Innovative Technologies for Housing (AITECH). The abundance of bamboo in the country is what makes it an ideal housing material–specifically, the species called Bambusa Blumeana, or more commonly known locally as Kawayang Tinik, and Dentrocalamus Asper or Giant Bamboo.

“The bamboo pole, as a structural component, is selected according to specific requirements such as age, diameter of pole, thickness of skin, and must be free of cracks and insect infestation. The bamboo is treated in an environmentally safe and effective method to provide long-term resistance against insects and mold,” says Jorillo, describing Base’s method. “Aside from bamboo, we use cement, hollow blocks, and metal rods and clamps to build a Base Bahay house. The homes are built complete with plumbing and electrical connections”

Base Bahay houses go to communities being supported by their partner organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, which built over 300 houses for families who belong to the urban poor. So far, Base has been able to build 800 permanent homes using bamboo–the most any organization has been able to accomplish–and, together with a coalition led by the Hilti Foundation and Habitat for Humanity, plans to put up 200 more by the end of the year, and 10,000 by 2025.

Base’s efforts have impacted the lives of over 4,000 individuals in the past seven years, says Jorillo. They have partnered with local governments and non-government organizations to build communities in Iloilo, Quezon City, Samar, Tacloban, Sorsogon, Bacolod, Eastern Samar, Negros Occidental, and Batangas; last year, the organization even went international by building a community with Habitat for Humanity in Nepal.

Driving a sustainable industry model

Aside from providing sustainable housing structures, they are also working on creating a sustainable industry, by, first and foremost, involving homeowners from the very start of the construction process wherein the hours they spend building their houses count as payment.

To help the rest of the country’s housing ecosystem understand the benefits of bamboo, Base is offering this year a Continuing Professional Education (CPD) program for Engineers and Architects on bamboo construction. They are also working with the ASEP for the Philippines to have its own National Structural Code for Bamboo, using the International Organization on Standardization (ISO) new standard on structural design with bamboo poles as the jump off point of national design code.

On the supply chain side, Base has established a network of supply facilities for structural grade bamboo in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Early this year, they also launched the BASE Innovation Center, a testing and research facility for constructing with bamboo and other alternative building materials, opening a whole new world of possibilities for the use of this species of grass.

“Our vision is to be a catalyst for the creation of more sustainable and disaster-resilient communities through our affordable housing technology solutions,” says Jorillo. “We believe that by providing the technology free of charge, NGOs and other professional entities can build these communities, and contribute to a future that is more sustainable for all.”

For more information on Base Bahay Foundation and ongoing projects, visit

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Home Care

7 Backyard improvements that make a difference

With more people staying home to work, relax and play, many homeowners have chosen to renovate rather than move to a new home to obtain their dream house and have it work better for their family.



The housing market always has its ups and downs, and home renovations appear to be hitting some record highs in the last few years. With more people staying home to work, relax and play, many homeowners have chosen to renovate rather than move to a new home to obtain their dream house and have it work better for their family. But what about extending those enhancements outside, into the family backyard?

According to a recent poll commissioned by the TurfMutt Foundation and conducted online by The Harris Poll, more than three-quarters of Americans who have a yard (76 percent) say the family yard space is one of the most important parts of their home. When it comes to design, it makes sense family backyards are being taken as seriously as the interior of the home.

“Backyard improvements can impact your home’s value should you decide to sell someday, but we think it’s also important to make changes that enhance your experience and enjoyment of your yard today,” says Kris Kiser, President & CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation, which encourages people to care for and utilize the green space around them, including our own backyards and community parks.

He adds, “Mulligan the TurfMutt and I are loving our newly renovated backyard as we’ve brought some of our indoor living, outdoors. It feels like we’ve added onto the house by just utilizing the outdoor space more effectively.” 

Maybe you’ve already completed the improvement projects inside your home such as adding a fresh coat of paint, putting in new flooring, or updating appliances and furniture. But how are home improvements taken to the backyard so the “outdoor living room” works better for your family and at the same time make your home feel new?

Here are seven suggestions from the TurfMutt Foundation for turning home renovations “inside out”:

1. Replace flooring inside = cleaning up the yard and improving its turfgrass.

Grass is the canvas for your outdoor living room. Improve existing turfgrass by overseeding or aerating, or start fresh with new sod. Clean out flower beds and remove debris from all parts of your yard, and then build the other elements from there. Remember, outdoor power equipment like a lawn mower, hedge trimmer, or leaf blower can help make even big jobs easier. 

2. Repaint inside = planting flowers to attract and support backyard wildlife.

A fresh coat of paint can transform a room, just like planting flowers outside does for a yard. Choose native plants that have evolved to thrive in your microclimate (they are better for the ecosystem and require less input from you). Selecting native perennials over annuals means only having to plant once to enjoy their beauty for years to come. Plus, pollinators and other backyard wildlife will thank you as these types of plants are natural habitat and food for them.

3. Replace household appliances = freshening up your cache of outdoor power equipment. 

Getting the right equipment for your lawn size and type customizes the experience of caring for your yard. Good news is there are lots of options available for all needs and tastes. Robotic mowers that act like a Roomba for the lawn and battery-powered leaf blowers that are lightweight, powerful, and portable are good choices. For larger lawns, zero-turn mowers and even a UTV might be helpful.

4. Swap out furniture inside = creating high-value spaces outside. 

Spending time outside is all about connection with nature and others. Really think about what you need for your lifestyle, and buy outdoor furniture accordingly to create spaces that support your family’s lifestyle. Things like a picnic table for backyard study sessions, an outdoor sectional for connecting with others, a hammock for swinging away stress, or even an outdoor office to strike a better work life balance are all ways you can create high-value outdoor spaces.

5. Kitchen renovation = adding an outdoor kitchen. 

The sky is the limit when adding an outdoor kitchen. You can certainly create full set-up complete with a sink, refrigerator, and built-in grill and cooktop. Or keep it simple with a beverage cart or cooler and spend a little more on a quality grill to cook meals on.

6. Add on to your home = creating a true outdoor living room. 

Go all out and add a deck, hardscaped area or screened in porch if you have the time and budget, or simply make the most of the yard you have. Create a soccer or croquet field on a grassy flat area. Add a fire pit and use string lights in trees to enhance enjoyment in the wintertime. For warm summer days, a pergola covered in colorful vines that attract butterflies might be just the ticket.

7. Add a game room inside = creating activity zones outside. 

Make your backyard the neighborhood gathering hot spot by creating activity zones that are fun for the whole family. Cornhole, soccer, bocce ball, and a giant checkers board game can help parents more easily manage their kids’ screen time. A patio or deck is a great setting for family game nights. Or go all out and add a swimming pool to lock in your backyard as the place-to-be for your kids and their friends. Involve your family in the planning and keep in mind that shrubs and hedges are a great way to distinguish the different activity zones you create in your yard.

For more information, sign up for Mutt Mail, a monthly e-newsletter with backyarding tips and all the news from the TurfMutt Foundation here.

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Home Care

How to use your hot tub all Fall and Winter

These 10 tips will help you enjoy steamy, stress-relieving water this fall and all winter.



As temperatures drop along with the leaves, pools are closing for the season; but hot tubs don’t have to close.

The tranquility of a soothing, warm soak can easily be enjoyed year-round. All it takes is a little preparation. These 10 tips will help you enjoy steamy, stress-relieving water this fall and all winter:

10 Tips to Keep Calm and Soak On

  1. Inspect the hot tub cover. It should fit tightly, with no rips or tears and withstand snow and ice.
  2. Consider a cover cap or insulation jacket. Both add a layer of protection in harsh weather. A hot tub insulation jacket provides additional insulation and maximum protection
  3. Use a floating blanket to trap heat
  4. Keep leaves and debris out and the cover on when not in use
  5. Clear snow and ice off the cover with the right tools to avoid damage
  6. Check water levels frequently – hot tub water evaporates more quickly in cold dry air than in warmer months. Don’t let the water level fall below the skimmer level – proper water circulation maintains clean, clear water
  7. Check and repair leaky pipes since they are more likely to freeze and ruin your hot tub
  8. Keep the water temperature a bit higher but never above 104F; use a hot tub thermometer to check the temperature
  9. Change your water before freezing temps-earlier is better
  10. Investigate water maintenance products that keep your water clean and clear with less maintenance, use less chlorine and allow you to go on vacation and return to crystal clean water

Not all water care products are the same. Most sanitizers are dichlor, a type of chlorine you must spoon-feed into hot tub water; it’s used up immediately and must be added after each use.

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Home Care

Tips to limit indoor exposure to COVID-19 and flu viruses



With new COVID-19 variants on the rise and flu season around the corner, Horizon Air Solutions, a locally owned HVAC company serving Houston since 2016, says homeowners should ensure their homes have the proper ventilation and purification systems in place to combat contaminated air.

“Many homeowners think the air inside their houses is healthier than the air outside, but studies have shown that isn’t always the case,” said Jorge Bassante, owner and president of Horizon Air Solutions. “Indoor air pollutants are a growing concern, especially with COVID-19 and the flu virus on the rise. Many homes aren’t ventilated properly and don’t have air purification systems installed. Many others have dirty ductwork that can blow pollutants around the home.”

In places like Houston, air quality suffers as a result of its warm, urban climate, which makes it predisposed to higher ozone levels. This can contribute to airborne illnesses such as COVID-19 and the flu. In Harris County, hospital admissions related to COVID-19 are continuing to rise on a weekly basis while they are down in the rest of Texas, according to news reports.

“(T)here’s no better time to consider improving your home’s air quality before it gets cold and we close our homes up again,” he said. “There are a number of ways you can improve your home’s air quality so your family can better protect itself from viruses like COVID and the flu.”

Bassante said these include:

  1. Changing the HVAC filter regularly. This simple solution not only helps the HVAC system run more efficiently, it also helps the system circulate cleaner air.
  2. Controlling the humidity in the home. Humid and moist air breeds mold, while drier air keeps viruses active longer. Homeowners can use humidifiers and dehumidifiers to control their home’s relative humidity. Homeowners can use a device called a hygrometer to test their home’s moisture levels. The ideal humidity in a home should be less than 60% in the summer and between 25% and 40% in the winter.
  3. Using fans in the bathrooms and kitchen. Homeowners can rid their homes of moisture and contaminants created by gas stoves or electric burners by regularly using vent fans while showering or cooking.
  4. Ventilation improvements. Although it’s generally a good idea to open windows, this isn’t always possible in extreme heat or cold. Installing an HVAC system that draws in fresh outdoor air and expels stale indoor air is one alternative.
  5. Air purification systems. Air cleaning systems use mechanical filters, activated carbon filters, UV-C lights, charged ions and other air scrubbers to keep a home’s air refreshed. A reputable HVAC company can help homeowners choose the system that will work best for their homes.
  6. Source identification and control. Identifying the source of a home’s poor IAQ is half the battle, and once it has been identified, it can be controlled. An air quality expert can examine a home to find out if the source is asbestos insulation, a gas stove, building materials or outdoor sources like radon or pesticides that are seeping into the home, and then make recommendations on how to control the problem.
  7. Cleaning dirty ductwork. Many older homes have old ductwork. Ducts can be the source of built-up dust, debris and pollutants that are blown throughout the home. Homeowners should always hire a trusted professional in their area and not rely on fly-by-night operators.

Bassante said homeowners should always consult a professional if they believe they are exposed to dangerous substances like carbon monoxide, radon or asbestos.

“This isn’t something you want to risk by leaving it in the hands of someone who isn’t certified and trained on dealing with these substances,” he said. “Make sure your HVAC contractor is licensed and insured and has the certifications necessary to operate in your state.”

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