involves a range of building
systems and materials that place major emphasis on sustainability
. Ways of achieving sustainability through natural building focus on durability and the use of minimally processed, plentiful or renewable resources
, as well as those which, while recycled
or salvaged, produce healthy living environments and maintain indoor air quality. "Natural building" is a general term with different interpretations by its – mostly – self-directed practitioners.
The basis of natural building is the need to lessen the environmental impact of buildings and other supporting systems, without sacrificing comfort, health or aesthetics. To be more sustainable, natural building uses primarily materials which are abundantly available, renewable, reused or recycled. The use of rapidly renewable materials is increasingly a focus. An emphasis on building compactly and minimizing the ecological footprint is common, as are on-site handling of energy acquisition, on-site water capture, alternate sewage treatment and water reuse.
Other concepts, methods and strategies often (or sometimes) associated with natural building include: building "underground," earth sheltering, or berming, "green" or "living" planted roofs, thatched roofs and cement-free earthen floors, rubble-trench, or gabion foundations.
is a non-profit organization
with a mission to connect people through loans
for the sake of alleviating global poverty
. Leveraging the internet
and a worldwide network of microfinance
institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help fund small businesses run by low-income entrepreneurs around the world.
Loans made on Kiva.org provide 0% interest to lenders. Kiva itself charges no interest from the borrower. Borrowers are charged some interest by the respective microfinance institution handling the individual loan. Kiva.org keeps track of how much interest is charged and will not work with those charging unfair or exorbitant interest rates. Kiva borrowers have a historical repayment rate of 100%. Kiva is working with regulators to allow microfinance institutions to offer variable interest rates to lenders.
Kiva enables microfinance institutions around the world to post profiles of qualified local entrepreneurs online. Lenders consist of any individual with a credit card. Lenders browse and choose an entrepreneur they wish to fund. Kiva aggregates loan capital from individual lenders and transfers it to microfinance partners, called "Field Partners", to disburse and administer. As loan repayments are made by the entrepreneur, the Field Partners remits funds back to Kiva. Once the loan is fully repaid, Kiva lenders can withdraw their principal or re-loan it to another entrepreneur.