Your Unofficial Guide to Kyrgyz Republic

Made in KG: Saman — Healthy House — Healthy Nation

Made in KG: Saman — Healthy House — Healthy Nation

By Aidai Chekirova

GO KG has some good news for you — no it's not Black Mirror's new season (which is great). GO KG's Made in KG section is back with some more interesting businesses based in the Kyrgyz Republic. Last year we told you about OA Kyrgyz Organic, a Kyrgyz organic food manufacturer, World of One, the very first Kyrgyz indie platformer and Runner, the first Kyrgyz peanut butter brand. The first business in this section in 2018 is Saman, a construction company, which wants to promote healthy houses. 

With ecological problems becoming more significant every one of us wants to live in a clean and ecological environment in order to have a healthy and a happy lifestyle. This is why Saman construction company is trying to help people by building ecological and energy efficient houses from clay and straw. Altynay Soltonbek, founder and general director of Saman told GO KG's journalist Aidai Chekirova about the benefits of eco-friendly houses and their important role in our lives.

The Idea

According to Altynay, she did not come to this business at once. She had her own beauty salon, which was her first entrepreneurial experience. But Altynay was not inspired by salon itself because she was more attracted to building and repairing it. No wonder soon Altynay realized she was not into this business and rent it out.

Altynay's coming to eco-friendly homes was because of her allergy. One day she accidentally read an article saying that allergic individuals living in eco-friendly houses recover from this disease. This is thanks toclay and straw, which have antiseptic properties and neutralize the air killing bacteria and harmful substances. This is how Altynay started looking for construction crews and professionals, who could build an eco-friendly home for her. Despite her search being unsuccessful, Altynay became really interested in this idea and began to study it.

I was interested in this area. I have seen such experience in the West, in Europe, in America. They build unusual houses, using the same material that we have in the Kyrgyz Republic. Our country is rich with those materials. I was so surprised that we have such resources and absolutely don’t know how to use them.
— Altynay Soltonbek, Saman Founder and General Director

Altynay emphasized that people in the Kyrgyz Republic don't have ideas about architectural design and creative approach to the construction of eco-friendly houses. People are used to build in the same way and don't even try to change the standards. Making a little research, Altynay ended up with the idea to start her own company and give people the opportunity to have eco-friendly homes.

Saman Construction Company

Altynay officially opened her company on December 17, 2016. Her team is still small and includes only several members. She is responsible for running the company and her colleague, professor and PhD Borombaev Erkin is responsible for the technical part — architecture and construction. That is why, they can safely guarantee the calculation and documentation, because eco-friendly houses are built by a professional architect.

Why Eco-Friendly Houses?

According to Altynay, eco-friendly houses have a series of advantages that affect global issues of our country as energy efficiency, finance and health. As for energy efficiency, as Altynay says, people can heat such houses once every three days. Moreover, the heat is preserved for three days because the straw does not conduct cold. As a clay is a thermal mass, when heated it evenly gives warmth. The clay also regulates temperature and humidity in such a house. 

People save a lot living in such eco-friendly houses too as they don't waste huge amounts of resources. On top of that it is much healthier choosing this type of houses, especially now — Altynay stresses that in recent years a lot of people began to have allergies, lungs and nervous system diseases. All of those problems Altynay is trying to solve with Saman thus 'healing the nation'. 

House is your fortress, where you have to rest and get energy. As a citizen and a mother I want our children and the whole nation to be healthy. That is why I chose the slogan ‘Healthy house — healthy nation’.
— Altynay Soltonbek, Saman Founder and General Director

Doubts and Questions

Altynay shares that people are worried about the seismic stability and strength of such houses. She explaines that adobe houses have a wooden frame. As everyone knows, this frame has established itself, and it can withstand snow and wind loads. Therefore, these houses can stand for many years. Altynay also says people are afraid that eco-friendly houses made of clay and straw can rapidly burn.

'As you know, we press the straw and plaster it with clay. Therefore, there is no open access to the straw. You cannot burn the house with an open fire. Of course, if you pour petrol on it will burn — even bricks do in such cases. But if we are talking about the construction process, we as a company take the responsibility that we comply with all the safety standards,' explains Altynay.

Another thing people are also very interested in are rodents. Saman company uses technology, which wards animals off in a natural and eco-friendly way. The company uses wormwood and bur in the construction process. Altynay says this method has been implemented successfully and solves the problem with rodents completely.

First Orders

Saman company offers a fixed price currently — USD 350 per square meter on a turn-key basis. This is the minimum price that the company can offer. 

Today I can say that in Europe eco-friendly houses are 4 times more expensive than a brick house. It means that work, materials and legalization are 4 times more expensive. One day hopefully an eco-friendly home will have the same price as a brick one.
— Altynay Soltonbek, Saman Founder and General Director

Altynay is sure that their eco-frienly houses will be much more expensive when their qualification improves. This is why she is trying to convince people to acquire such houses now while they are much less expensive. The company now already has orders for 2018.

What's Next?

Apart from building and an office for her company and implementing several orders this year together with promoting a healthy lifestyle and healthy houses, Altynai also has some more ambitious ideas. One of them is to build an eco-town close to Bishkek one day. 'We have an idea to build such a town where people will use green technology, proper treatment facilities and autonomous heating. Houses will be not so large and with comfortable accommodation. We want to make these houses for people who want to live in eco-friendly houses. Now we are in a process of developing a business plan for this part to attract investors. I hope this plan will be implemented. It will be one of the big steps for our company.'

 

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