I am from India and planning to build a house with as little cement, steel and sand as possible. I am looking to keep the temperature inside the home to be minimal since temperature will touch around 44°C (111°F) during summer.

Is there any alternative solution which helps building a two story building which absorbs less heat so that I don't need to run an aircon.

  • Any reason why you're trying to avoid these three materials? I would be helpful to know so that answers don't include other materials that you might want to avoid for the same reasons.
    – LShaver
    Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 17:54
  • There are ways to do passive cooling that require less power than conventional air conditioning, but it will be hard to answer the question for you without knowing the size of the construction, or you budget. For keeping cool, I can't make any specific reccomendations but you should look to create a 'passive cooling' home if you don't want to run AC: newatlas.com/top-five-passively-cooled-homes/29433 i4at.org/lib2/aircool.htm as for materials[lowimpact.org/lowimpact-topic/earth-bag-building/] Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 17:29
  • Oh this one looks cool: kotaronishiki.com Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


Maybe you could use natural building materials? Do you have access to lots of clay and straw/other fibres? If so, then maybe cob would be an option?

Look around, see what sort of natural materials are in your environment, and add them to your question. Might spark a few ideas. Also describe your rainfall situation (especially whether you have to deal with torrential monsoon rain events). Some solutions that are fine for a hot dry season may fail completely in a wet season.

Do you have (or are you willing to develop) bricklaying skills? If so, I find vault construction like this quite inspirational:

Vault Construction

Video at youtube.com/watch?v=PB8TWMKHHMQ

(I realise you want to use less sand, but mortar and concrete use vastly different amounts, so clay bricks might be an option.)

You could then lime-wash, render, or paint the outer surface white — which should reflect up to 40% of the incoming heat from the sun and help moderate the temperature.


Look at rammed earth construction. While it uses cement it uses much less cement that a poured concrete wall. It's fairly fast, and reasonably resistant to rain erosion.

If you have agricultural waste, (straw, dry husks, stems) you can mix with clay to make cob. Straw can be used to make leichtlehm for walls.

For a roof, it's hard to beat a galvanized or painted steel sloped roof with an airspace, and insulation. The metal gets hot, but the insulation keeps the heat out of the house. The metal keeps the insulation dry. Steel makes for an expensive roof, but properly designed, they last many decades.

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