La Yuca schoolroom renovation

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La Yuca schoolroom renovation
Description The objective is to fix the ecoladrillo schoolroom by adding a new plaster to the walls, fixing the floor, and fixing the ventilation of the room using natural building techniques.
Intended use development, education
Keywords classroom renovation, La Yuca, plaster, ventilation, natural building
Documentation language English
Appropedia user User:DomT
Project status Implemented
Project was made Yes
SDG Sustainable Development Goal 8, Sustainable Development Goal 11, Sustainable Development Goal 12, SDG04 Quality education

Practivistas Dominicana - Student Projects

La Yuca ecoladrillo schoolroom (2011) - La Yuca rainwater catchment (2014) (2013) (2012) (2011) - La Yuca small scale renewable energy (2014) (2012) (2011) - La Yuca schoolroom renovation (2013) - Las Malvinas ecoladrillo schoolroom (2012) - Las Malvinas botica popular hullkrete (2015) (2013) - Las Malvinas eco-block police station (2014) - Las Malvinas eco-block testing (2015) (2014) - Las Malvinas botica popular ecoladrillo (2013) - Las Malvinas rainwater catchment system (2014) (2013) - Las Malvinas rainwater feasibility study (2014) - Las Malvinas community center shade structure (2014) - Ghetto2Garden solar power (2014) (2013) - Arroyo Norte waste plastic innovations (2015) (2014) - Solar workshops (2015)


The schoolroom before changes made in 2013.
The schoolroom after changes made in 2013.

In 2011 an ecoladrillo schoolroom was built as an additional room to Escuela Basica Nurys Zarzuela in La Yuca, del Naco, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.[1] Currently the room is only being used as a storage space, which is not the originally intended purpose. To be more suitable for other purposes the room needs a new wall plaster, an improved floor, and a better ventilation system that does not let in rainwater. The renewable energy systems also need to be fixed for the LED lights in the room to function.


The objective is to fix the ecoladrillo schoolroom by adding a new plaster to the walls, fixing the floor, and fixing the ventilation of the room using natural building techniques.

Literature Review[edit]

Here is the link to the literature review for the ecoladrillo schoolroom.


To help with the decision making process this is the weighted criteria created based on the interests of the school director.

Criteria Constraints Weight (0-10)
Safety Must be non-toxic and earthquake safe. 10
Longevity Must last more than 2 years. 9
Aesthetics Must be aesthetically pleasing enough to use for class. 6
Locality All materials must be found in Santo Domingo. 6
Cost Must be within budget. 5

Proposed Timeline[edit]

This is the proposed timeline for when things should be done.

Objectives Completion Date Responsible
Choose Project June 7th
Literature Review June 10th
Retrieve solar panel and troubleshoot lights June 12th Dom
Find and gather materials June 14th Patricia
Test all materials June 15th Alan
Check tests June 16th Patricia
Get lights working June 16th Dom
Hope for rain and find leaks in room June 21st Dom
All walls plastered June 23rd Alan
All leaks fixed June 26th Patricia
Floor done June 28th Alan
Final touch-ups/something extra? June 30th Patricia
Appropedia document July 1st Dom
Presentation July 4th Alan

Construction Process[edit]

Detailed below are the steps to improve the schoolroom in La Yuca.


Water leaks into the room in various places when it rains. The room must be waterproof to prevent water damage to the room and the things inside.

Description Image
Roof before: Water would roll down the bottom of the roof when it rained and drip inside. Some Styrofoam that was used as a previous barrier to water was taken out. It was unnecessary once we implemented our solution, and by taking it out ventilation in the room would increase.
Roof after: To prevent the water from coming in from the roof, zinc sheets were cut and nailed around the top of the existing roof to create a curved shield from the rain. This option was chosen, because it would be the most effective and the least costly way to seal the roof, while providing more ventilation to the room than there was before.
First window: On to opposing sides of the room there were large open spaces where rain would enter the room when it rained. To cover these holes while still allowing for some ventilation we used Styrofoam and cement to create windows with spaces left in them slanted so that air may pass through them, but water may not.
Second Window
Door cover: Water would leak through an open door in the back of the schoolroom. To prevent this a metal sheet was welded over the door.

Ventilation Materials & Budget[edit]

Materials Unit Price (RD$) Quantity Total (RD$)
Roofing nails $26 2 boxes $52
Styrofoam 4'x8'x2" $450 1 $450
Cement Donated 20lb $0
Total Cost $502


There were various parts of the project that required soldering. A welder in La Yuca was hired to solder the solar panel brace, the back door cover, and to fix the front door, which had a broken hinge. He also provided the zinc roofing sheets used to prevent water from entering through the roof. The cost for these materials was DR$ 2300 and for the labor was DR$ 800. The total cost was about DR$ 3100.

Solar Lighting[edit]

Solar powered LED lights.

In 2011 a renewable energy system used to power lights was installed on a roof near the school.[2] In 2013 the system no longer worked, because the wire was cut, the battery was dead, and there was corrosion in some of the wires. To solve this issue, the panel was moved to the roof of the school, closer to the schoolroom, where it is visible to nearby neighbors and where theft is less likely. Two new batteries were installed, and the system was simplified, since the wind turbine was no longer being used. The shunt and relay installed previously were taken out, and now the batteries, the panel, and the lights are connected directly to the charge controller with fuses near the battery and the light switch.


Device Specifications Description Picture
Solar Panel 10 watt This panel was used in parallel with the turbine to transfer solar radiation into electrical energy.
Batteries (2) 12V 9Ah These batteries store a few hours worth of energy for the LED lights each night.
Brace for panel Welded metal This brace is put in a location that is visible to all nearby houses and is designed to be a permanent brace for the panel to discourage theft.

Please see La Yuca small scale renewable energy 2012 for more detailed information on the previous renewable energy system.

Solar Lighting Materials & Budget[edit]

Materials Unit Price (RD$) Quantity Total (RD$)
Solar Panel Free from previous years 1 $0
Batteries $800 2 $1600
Fuze $30 1 $30
Wire $41 2 $82
Electrical Tape $40 1 $40
Total Cost $1752


The cement and sand walls from 2011 had some cracks in them, and the block walls needed a better aesthetic finish. The ideal plaster would be one that could be applied over a cement wall and a block wall without cracking and look aesthetically pleasing on both. Many natural plasters were explored, and the final decision was a natural plaster that includes flour paste, clay, sand, and lime.


Many test plasters were created to find the best plaster for the situation. Adobe and the sawdust and cement mixtures were tried, but both turned out to be too thick and did not stick to the wall well enough to be a finish plaster. Clay paints were tried, but they cracked where there were cracks in the wall. A mixture of flour paste, sand, clay, and lime turned out to be the best test. The first mixture we had that we wanted to use was aesthetically much more attuned to what the director of the school wanted. Local clay was found in an excavation site in La Yuca where it could be gathered for use in the schoolroom. If the final mixture was just right it would create a smooth, aesthetically pleasing finish that was also more durable in the scratch test than the preexisting wall of cement and sand. However, it is not more durable when wet, so care must be taken not to let the walls get wet.

Test Patch[edit]

The strongest test was a mixture of just sand, flour paste, and cal, but we decided not to use it based on a lack of existing research or data on using a mixture without clay. One square of the mixture was put above the back door, so in a year the durability of the patch can be compared with the rest of the wall. The mixture for the patch is: 1/50th parts lime dissolved in 1 part water, 2 parts flour paste, and 5 parts sand.

Test plasters on block wall.
Test plasters on cement wall.
Test patch of mixture without clay.

Final Decision Recipe[edit]

The final decision was a mixture that used the grey plaster sand, four paste, lime, and the clay found locally in La Yuca.

Ingredient/Step Quantity Instructions Picture
Lime 0.02 parts Add 1/50 parts lime to 1 part water and stir until all the lime is dissolved.
Local Clay 1 part Add 1 part sifted clay to water and lime mixture.
Flour Paste 1 part The flour paste is made by cooking flour in water. First add 1 part flour to a mixing bowl. Slowly add 2 parts water to the flour while stirring to avoid lumps. Bring 1.5 parts water to a boil in a pot. When the water is boiling add the flour mixture and reduce heat to low. Stir constantly until the paste thickens to a glue-like consistency.

When ready add 1 part flour paste to the clay, water and lime mixture.

Plaster Sand 4 parts Add 4 parts sifted sand to the mixture.
Apply When batch is thoroughly mixed apply to wall like a normal plaster.

Plaster Materials & Budget[edit]

Materials Unit Price (RD$) Quantity Total (RD$)
Lime $68/25lb 25lb $68
Clay Free 3 wheelbarrows $150 in tips
Sand $225/0.25m^3 + $350 delivery fee 0.25m^3 $575
Flour $750/50lb 25lb $325
Gas for cooking $200 1 $200
Total Cost $1428


The floor was made using old donated tiles and cement mixed with sand. The leftover clay was laid down first to help level the floor, so less cement and sand would be necessary. Some waste sawdust from La Yuca and Las Malvinas was also laid down to level the floor.

Finished floor.

Floor Materials & Budget[edit]

Materials Unit Price (RD$) Quantity Total (RD$)
Tiles Donated 200 $0
Cement $350 3 $1050
Sand 1100/m^3 0.5m^3 $550
Total Cost $1700


Next Steps[edit]

  • Monitor the integrity of the plaster over time.
  • Compare the test patch to the rest of the plaster in one year.
  • Apply a lime wash if the plaster begins to degrade, or if the color is too dark.