Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Goodliving.Eco Foundation

What is the name of your solution?

GoodLiving.Eco: Climate Smart Housing for Low Income Groups

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Making climate resilient & green housing accessible for low income groups

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Over 1.1 billion people globally live in substandard housing that gets repeatedly damaged or collapses during extreme weather events. In fact, in India alone, 18.8 million families in urban areas and over 43 million families in rural areas (Indian Census, 2012) are in need of affordable housing. 

In southern India, where we are currently working, the communities face the brunt of climate change in the form of cyclones, floods, erratic rainfall and heat waves. As a result, they often end up rebuilding/repairing their houses due to repeated climate shocks. The lack of access to climate-resilient housing has significant consequences on the lives of the households, including the children and the elderly, and even often leads to injury and death. Access to quality water, incidences of open defecation, and lack of access to stable electricity are all frequent problems that closely accompany dilapidated housing. 

Here are a few community members sharing their lived experiences in their own voices regarding their housing struggles: 

A glimpse into the life of Valarmadhy and her son 

A glimpse into the life of Akshaya and her grandparents

One of the pressing problems that people face while trying to build their home is lack of access to finance. The minimum legal size of a house (in India) is 269 sq ft and to build this would cost anywhere between 4,00,000 - 5,50,000 INR (US$5,000-6,725). However, households in the bracket of 8,000-15,000 INR (US$110-200) of monthly household income, cannot afford such expenses, making it difficult for them to build resilient houses. The government offers housing subsidy schemes (PMAY scheme - Pradhan Mantri Awaz Yojana) up to 2,65,000 INR (US$3,250) while the Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) issuing credit to this segment provide loans up to 2,00,000 INR (US$2,500) for households with clear land tenures. Neither the loans nor subsidies are sufficient when accessed alone, leading households to obtain informal loans that are unregulated and exploitative.

Even when finance is made available, lack of awareness and social acceptance around benefits of greener solutions in day to day lives, and the myths associated with green technologies, leads people to choose mainstream methods of construction. If all 1.1 billion houses were to be built in this manner, it would release millions of tonnes of GHG emissions. 

Even if households have the knowledge and desire to adopt green building practices, a weak local green building ecosystem restricts the discovery of alternate green materials, builders and technologies.

What is your solution?

We facilitate climate smart housing (climate resilient and green homes) for low income groups by making finance and green housing ecosystem accessible.

Our Offerings

We provide the below offerings to our customers to help them build a climate smart home : 

1. Access to Finance 

Our model of business involves becoming a multi stakeholder hub of information and collaboration between 3 primary stakeholders – Govt agencies involved in housing subsidy schemes, housing credit finance institutions such as NBFCs, PLIs, commercial banks, AHFIs, and the end user households who need access to housing. 

1.a. Access to PMAY scheme/govt subsidies for housing: This includes access to govt housing and other related subsidies. We have developed close relationships with different levels of the government machinery involved in preparing lists, sanctioning and disbursal of subsidy amounts, and monitoring their construction.

1.b. Access to housing credit finance institutions: This includes access to formal green home loans via lending institutions. A green home loan incentivises the household to ‘Build Back Better’. We connect our customers to the relevant lending institutions of their choice keeping in mind not to over-indebt them.

We create awareness workshops where we not only discuss the availability, accessibility and affordability of the subsidy schemes and loans but also highlight the benefits of green solutions.

2. Access to Climate Smart Home Ecosystem

2.a. Access to climate resilient and green (low carbon) home designs - As per the geographical coordinates of the site (land owned by household), various plausible design templates are offered to the household, which they can further customize as per their requirement. With the selection of a home design, the household also gets a ballpark of the construction cost involved to execute the same. 

2.b. Access to green vendors - Contractors that are well versed with green building construction practices are introduced to the households. They shall follow the designs finalized by the household. Also, authentic green building material vendors will be made accessible to the household, such that there is no compromise in the quality of materials used for construction. Home

Every Goodliving.Eco home is a climate smart home that integrates the following themes - 

1. Climate Smart Design 

1.a. Maximum natural light and ventilation

1.b. Thermal insulation

1.c. Resilient structural design (as per geographical context like soil conditions, disasters prevalent in the region etc.)

2. Green building materials for construction, minimizing the use of high carbon embodied materials

3. Rainwater harvesting systems

4. Sanitation systems 

5. Renewable energy (decentralized solar)

Watch how this family from RURAL INDIA built their first climate smart home : The first Goodliving.Eco Home

Our process allows us to build cost effective and low carbon homes for the households we work with, in a way that keeps them involved at every step. May it be arranging funds through various institutions, accommodating the aspirations of their home within their budget, or connecting them to green vendors, we handhold the household from start to end.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our solution currently serves low-income households in India who are seeking to build, and are in need of, climate-resilient and sustainable homes. These households typically belong to economically weaker sections, earning between 8000-15000 INR per month per household, and are currently underserved due to a lack of access to financing and technical assistance.

Many of these households live in dilapidated housing conditions in areas prone to climate disasters, and lack the knowledge and resources needed to build sustainable homes that can withstand these challenges. They also struggle to obtain housing subsidies and credit, and are subject to exploitation by local credit sharks.

Here are a few detailed household profiles for your reference

Our solution addresses these needs by providing cost effective and green housing solutions, along with technical assistance to help households build their homes in a more climate-resilient manner. We help households gain access to different formal financial institutions, so that funds can be arranged to build their homes - including govt subsidies, PLI's and any other institution applicable. 

Through our solution, we aim to create long-term social impact by improving housing conditions, reducing dependence on groundwater sources, and promoting energy access through decentralized and diverse sources. We also  promote dignity in defecation and sanitation, particularly for women, and create greater awareness around climate change adaptation and mitigation in housing for the poor.

Overall, our solution is designed to directly and meaningfully improve the lives of low-income households in India, by providing them with the tools and resources they need to build sustainable, climate-resilient homes that can improve their quality of life and help them thrive in the face of environmental challenges.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We currently work in the states of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, India. Our team is best positioned to deliver this solution for a plethora of reasons. Our core team has worked extensively with social enterprises and understands field operations and nuances.  

Our founding team comes with a diverse and complimentary expertise required to solve the problem of housing for climate vulnerable communities:

  • Ar. Gauri Shenoy : Practicing licensed architect (since 2015) with an expertise in sustainable architecture (climate resilient and green homes)
  • Deepankar Panda : Social and climate action entrepreneur with core strengths as research, strategy and product management.
  • Atul Raman : Social work practitioner specializing in field operations and community engagements

Our team consists of members who belong to the same community as the target populations, understand their language, needs and aspirations, as well as local politics.

We did not always have the business model we are stating now. During the initial months, we were purely crowdfunded and even though we focused on housing as a problem for climate vulnerable families, our approach was individual led. In fact, one of the most compelling reasons that makes our team well positioned is that our current business model stems from a yearlong Participatory Action Research (PAR) project that we embarked upon under the ClimateU initiative of the University College London and in collaboration with TISS, Mumbai, their students and faculty. (click to know more)

The research was conducted in 3 phases –

1. Situational analysis

2. Micro-mobilization

3. Dialogic ideation

During the 1st and 2nd phase, the needs of the local community were identified in thorough detail including the drivers and barriers that prevent their aspired house from becoming a reality. 

It was especially during the last phase during our weekly workshops with the mobilized households that we understood the importance of working on housing finance and further using a multi stakeholder approach. 

It was brought to our notice that the real problem was access to multiple funds at the same time - funds from govt as well as informal/formal loans. Without timely access to funds, households were unable to predict how long it would take to build their home, and many suffered by building homes halfway due to insufficient funds. 

In fact, this problem is not just restricted to the geographic location of the PAR, but spans across the country. 

This research has given us an excellent understanding of the pain points of our customers (low income communities), making our team further well positioned to deliver this solution.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Support informal communities in upgrading to more resilient housing, including financing, design, and low-carbon materials or energy sources.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Tamil Nadu, India

In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • India

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization testing a product, service, or business model with a small number of users

How many people does your solution currently serve?

Our solution has served two families/households uptill now, one in the State of Tamil Nadu and the other in Pondicherry, India. 

These houses were built through a mixed funding model (crowd-funded + savings of the household), which allowed us to test out the acceptance of our process and the willingness of our customer to live in a climate resilient &  green building, after understanding its benefits.

At the moment, we are working with more households (around 75) and testing out our pivoted business model that also works on formal finance, along with climate smart housing solutions. 

Why are you applying to Solve?

Currently, we have been working in the southern states of India and have successfully implemented our model with two households. We are now working with multiple communities and have started productizing our services, in order to scale further.

We are seeking mentorship on strategy, partnerships and product, to grow our business to the scale aspired. Hoping to be a part of Solve and have access to people working on similar goals and targets.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business Model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Financial (e.g. accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. delivery, logistics, expanding client base)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Gauri Shenoy

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Our approach makes our solution innovative. 

Our approach unifies all players of the ecosystem and invites them to work together, instead of trying to do everything by yourselves. All green building ecosystem players - may it be finance companies, architects, contractors, builders, material vendors etc work in silos currently, making it difficult for everyone to succeed. All technology innovations made by different ecosystem partners, will be scaled up further through our initiative, as we also work on creating awareness amongst communities regarding the benefits of green building solutions and encourage their use though our designs. 

We do not have a prototype that says - 'One solution fits all' 

On working closely with communities we have realized that the social acceptance of 'one prototype house' for all, is very less. A house is an aspiration, for anyone and everyone, and all households have specific needs of their own. Moreover, we feel the structural design (depending on soil conditions, prevalence of disasters) and the architectural design (based on space requirements of the family, green building material locally available in the area, sun and wind direction, insulation needs etc) need to be specific as per the geographical context. We use a set of parameters, with the help of which we can efficiently come up with a specific apt house design, which is applicable to the household's context and acceptable by the household. The household's involvement in the entire process gives them a sense of ownership, and this bottoms up approach has been proved very successful. 

While doing the above, we are also focusing on productizing the entire process, such that it can be scaled easily. Our core team has an extensive experience in working closely with grassroot communities, in various parts of our country. This ensures a product that is made with a high level of empathy and understanding of its user needs.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

For the next year, our impact goals are -

Social Impact : 

- Build atleast 100 Goodliving.Eco houses, benefiting and safeguarding atleast 500 people from recurring disasters and homelessness. These people shall also have access to water, sanitation and electricity, through our model. We shall do this in the State of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.

- With climate smart homes built, families will have more resilience during disasters such as cyclones, floods, extreme rain and heat

- There will be more awareness on green building materials and its benefits amongst the communities

- There will be better acceptance of green home loans and other finance institutions amongst the communities, to build their own houses with a reluctance to opt for exploitative and informal loans

- Increase in partnerships with multiple green ecosystem players in the market

Climate Impact : 

- Sequestering 500 tonnes of GHG emissions contribution while building back better

- Reduced consumption and dependence on groundwater sources

- Reduced contamination of groundwater with reduced cases of open defecation

For the next one year, we will focus on creating more and more awareness on climate resilient and green homes in the communities that we are working in. This awareness shall be for both - access to finance as well as green home solutions. With two pilot houses, people are already beginning to see the benefits of residing in a climate smart home, we want to further expand our customer base, such that we can cover more villages in the State of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.

In the next five years, our impact goals shall grow by 50X in scale. We shall be ready with our tech product by then, and our partnerships with all our stakeholders would be much stronger. We shall be working not just in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, but all other states in India as well. 

There would be an organically grown sense of awareness towards building climate resilient and green homes with a higher level of acceptance by households. This will lead to an increased demand for climate smart homes (climate resilient and low carbon). 

People will also be more accepting regarding taking formal green loans, and there will be an improvement in the default rate of repaying loans, by these communities. There will be lesser cases of incomplete construction due to lack of funds and reduced incidences of exploitative informal loans faced by low income groups for housing.

With 50X houses built, carbon emissions saved per home would also increase exponentially, with an exponential increase in resilience of the community as well. 

A strong affordable green housing market from both supply and demand side, would get created. A clear indication of this being a success would be the increased discovery and transactions happening between the supply (green contractors and material providers) and demand (Households in need of climate smart housing), on our platform.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We, at Goodliving.Eco, understand that measuring progress towards our impact goals is paramount in ascertaining progress at an organizational level periodically at frequent intervals. 

As per our theory of change, everything mentioned in the 'activities' and 'outputs', shall have direct operations related indicators that will be captured from our app and stored in our MIS at real time.

Each of the 'outcome' and 'impact' indicators will be captured at a relatively lower frequency of measurement either quantitatively or qualitatively depending upon the indicator through a primary research or credible secondary data sources.

What is your theory of change?

Please find the Theory of Change attached below:
Goodliving.Eco - Theory of change

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Direct Technology Integration

Purpose of using technology: To scale on both supply (climate smart housing ecosystem members) and demand (communities in need of climate smart housing) side. 

As we scale, we keep productizing our offerings which are currently offered as services, resulting in standardizing the quality we deliver at scale. Our platform (to be developed as an app in the near future) will have three major interfaces:

  • Interface for Community- will help communities find access to finance and the climate smart housing ecosystem. It will also be used to highlight the benefits of climate smart housing. It will have features such as customer due diligence (powered by blockchain), discovery of green home loan applications based on eligibility, browsing and selection of climate smart home design templates, request for customisations, discovery of curated climate smart home contractors and material vendors, monitoring progress, managing payments and seeking support.
  • Interface for ecosystem partners- will help different partners (lending institutions, contractors, material vendors and others) to find leads and report progress on construction.
  • Interface for internal MIS- will provide data driven insights for decision making.

Indirect Technology Integration

As we scale, the technology solutions provided by our partners who will be part of our climate smart home ecosystem will also scale. These geography specific solutions are spread across green building materials, construction methods, energy and water harvesting related service providers.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Blockchain
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • India

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • India
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit

How many people work on your solution team?

Full time :2, Part time : 1, Volunteer/interns/contractual basis employees : 10-15

How long have you been working on your solution?

2 years

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Our team is small presently since we are still in our initial stages. Goodliving.Eco, in the pursuit of our vision to work in housing for the vulnerable and marginalized, seek to achieve this through values of collaboration, empathy, care, solidarity, socio-climatic justice, non-judgmental attitude, and self-respect. We adhere to and apply these values not only for the communities we work with or our customers, but also more importantly, amongst ourselves in our domains of work. 

We have and have had an extremely diverse team. For example, people from different regions of the country – North, South, and Northeast Indians – have been a part of our team. Even few foreign nationals have taken part with us in the initial days of Goodliving.Eco. We even have people from the LGBTQ+ community working with us, one of them being a very essential part of our team in the early months, along with other volunteers. We encourage people from marginalized backgrounds such as Tribals, scheduled castes, backward classes, and women. 

We don’t give any special preference in hiring people who only speak the languages spoken by the communities we work in. While we currently work in Tamil Nadu where the predominantly spoken language is Tamil, we have successfully demonstrated that language needn’t be a huge barrier by including people with different mother tongues and effective community work. We did this by enabling effective communication between the community and our team. We frequently collaborate with various universities and have interns and researchers from various streams to add additional value to our work.

Often we see burnout and tolerance to uncomfortable situations on account of one's identity especially in the local communities. To ensure inclusion, we conduct regular debriefing sessions to make ourselves reflect as to whether any one was uncomfortable personally in any part of their day at – villages, home visits, workshops, office spaces – in order to understand whether they were put in difficult situations on account of their gender, caste, class, creed, or religion. We always accompany fieldworkers with partners so as to further this objective.

We are committed to inclusion in every step. We encourage positive work culture feedback by creating environments that are respectful, supportive and make every individual feel valued. While there are job descriptions for each staff member, we encourage every member of the team to take an interest in other streams that are not directly related to their background, especially for those from marginalized backgrounds for whom these are more significant.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Goodliving.Eco works on an aggregator model of business. Our customers are households belonging to low income groups, living in dilapidated homes that constantly face the adverse effects of climate change, leading to homelessness and loss of lives.

Through our platform, we aggregate the following services to our customers:

1. Make formal finance accessible
2. Make climate smart designs accessible (climate resilient and green)
3. Make green ecosystem of contractors/material manufacturers/vendors etc easily accessible
4. Make carbon credits accessible 
5. Construction assistance

1. Making formal finance accessible - This involves making finance accessible such that people can build their homes. This could be govt subsidies, green loans from PLI's, guarantee loans or all of the above, as needed.

2. Making climate smart designs accessible - As per the geographical context and prevalence of disasters in the area, design templates are shared with the households. These templates involve floor plans, door/window sizes and placements, electrical plans, foundation plans etc. with all specified quantities and materials. 

3. Making green ecosystem accessible - Green building vendors including the contractor, and material vendors, are introduced to the households as per the selected design, such that houses can be constructed within the stipulated budget. 

4. Making carbon credits accessible (in future) - All Goodliving.Eco homes have carbon credits associated with them. These credits are given in the form of certificates to all households post completion, so that they can avail benefits for the same. 30 percent of these credits belong to Goodliving.Eco, and the customer would get the remaining 70 percent of carbon credits for themselves. 

5. Construction assistance - We try to make the households a part of the entire construction process. We help them out and provide assistance wherever required as and when needed. 

There is no 'one housing solution for all' that suits everybody's needs/context. Through our business model, we aggregate all our ecosystem partners (lending institutions, designers, contractors, engineers, architects, material vendors etc) in the market, in a way that our customers benefit the most from it.

Our platform (to be developed as an app in the near future) will have three major interfaces:
Interface for Community
Interface for ecosystem partners
Interface for internal MIS 

This will enable us to scale much faster, as we keep productizing our services.

We have two major revenue streams as a result of our unique model -

1. A flat service fee of 2 percent of the entire budgeted cost of the house construction, from our customers
2. Selling carbon credits from building green homes at scale [to be activated in future]

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

We plan to become financially sustainable by generating revenues by a combination of revenue streams as mentioned above.

For scaling further up, we shall be developing an application as mentioned above, to productize our services and scale faster. For developing the same, we will seek investment from impact focused investors.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

Until now, we were supported through crowdfunding and grants. We have recently activated our revenue stream. 

Crowdfunding - We did a crowdfunding for our initiative when we first started out in April'2021. We had over 100+ youth volunteers who came forward to support us and helped us raise funds. We raised around 9,00,000 INR ($11,018) and had over 1600 supporters. Here's our crowdfunding link for your reference. 

HNI/Philanthropic funding - We have raised up to 17,00,000 INR ($20,813)through philanthropic funding till now.

Studio - We participated in Terra Studio, hosted by Terra.Do last year,  and won a runner up position with a prize money of $3000.

Solution Team

  • Gauri Shenoy Co-founder and CEO, Goodliving.Eco Foundation
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