Habitat for Humanity Challenge: Improved Construction and Demolition Waste Management

$15,000 USD

Challenge overview


Habitat for Humanity and the Terwilliger Center, the Seeker for this Challenge, recognize the urgent need for efficient and effective construction and demolition (C&D) waste management as it would lead to impactful social, environmental, and economic benefits. Worldwide, the construction industry produces a tremendous amount of C&D debris every year, with one recent study estimating production of such waste will reach 2.2 billion tons by 2025. India, the country of primary focus for this Challenge, contributes a significant fraction of C&D waste to the worldwide total with the amount expected to grow exponentially over time due to rapid urbanization. The rapidly growing construction sector responsible for this increase in C&D waste production also has a rapidly growing need for building materials and it seems natural to look toward the C&D waste as a potential source for the needed building materials. Although the Government of India published rules in 2016 to address this issue, no significant adoption or progress has been made in the processing and utilization of C&D waste. Habitat for Humanity, supported by SeaFreight Labs, is seeking to address the roadblocks hindering the widespread recycling and use of C&D waste in construction. This Challenge focuses on the first steps of utilizing C&D waste – estimation and segregation of waste material and the initial logistics of waste utilization in the construction supply chain – and the Seeker is soliciting innovative ideas and concepts to address a wide range of topics within these first steps. There exists a huge potential to develop economically viable and revenue generating businesses in recycling of C&D waste for reuse in the construction industry and it is Habitat for Humanity’s hope that the results of this Challenge will help them foster growth and spur interest and innovation in this area, ultimately reducing natural resource use and keeping large volumes of C&D waste from entering the environment.

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.



The construction industry is an important growth driver of India’s economy with a contribution of 8% to India’s GDP and a projected growth rate of 7-8% year-over-year for the next decade. Along with this size and growth comes an ever-increasing need for new building materials as well as tremendous amounts of construction and demolition (C&D) waste. It is estimated that 100 million metric tons per year are produced in India with this amount expected to increase exponentially due to rapid urbanization. This waste comes not only from the demolition of existing structures but also from the renovation or reconstruction of old structures as well as from new construction. It spans infrastructure, industrial, commercial, and residential construction. Unfortunately, the overall management of this waste has neither been effective nor efficient, with a large portion of unsegregated waste finding its way to ad hoc dumping grounds or unauthorized landfills leading to environmental problems. Given the growth in construction and the need for new building materials it seems obvious to turn to recycling of C&D waste as a source of needed materials, and while the Government of India has made efforts in this direction no significant adoption or progress has been made in the utilization of C&D waste in new construction. There are several potential roadblocks standing in the way of this utilization and Habitat for Humanity is seeking, through this Challenge, to gather new ideas, concepts, and solutions to overcome these roadblocks.

Habitat for Humanity and the Terwilliger Center recognize the urgent need for efficient and effective C&D waste management as it would lead to social, environmental, and economic benefits. The improved management of waste would prevent indiscriminate dumping and enhance quality of life in neighborhoods. The inclusion of low-income families into the construction industry would reap benefits of resource efficiency and cost effectiveness through the use of recycled building components. Additionally, the industry would achieve significant sustainability and benefit from a measure of circularity.  

This is an Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:

  • There is a guaranteed award.  The award(s) will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker. The total payout will be $15,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $1,000.
  • The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker.  Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solver grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal, including for promotional purposes and sharing with potential development partners. Habitat for Humanity will make awarded solutions freely available to other partner organizations.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on 25-Jan-2021. Late submissions will not be considered.

After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s). All Solvers that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.



Employees and interns of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), as well as their immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling, and their respective spouses) or persons living in the same household, whether related or not, are eligible to enter the Challenge; provided that they will not be eligible to receive an award if their Solution is chosen.  In addition, the Solutions of employees and interns of HFHI will fall under HFHI’s employment policies and be considered work product of HFHI. Please note, employees and interns of Habitat for Humanity Affiliates and independent National Organizations are eligible to enter and receive an award if their Solution is chosen.



Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit housing organization working in more than 70 countries around the world. Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.  Habitat works toward our vision by building strength, stability, and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing.

Through the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter (TCIS), Habitat for Humanity facilitates more efficient and inclusive housing market systems, making affordable housing possible for millions of more families.

Habitat for Humanity formally launched the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter at the historic Habitat III, which took place in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016. The Terwilliger Center is one of Habitat’s key commitments toward the implementation of the United Nation’s member states’ New Urban Agenda.

The Terwilliger Center consolidates more than a decade of experience in developing market-based solutions for housing and the body of work resulting from these early efforts, formerly referred to as the Center for Innovation in Shelter and Finance. Through the Terwilliger Center, Habitat will accelerate and facilitate better functioning inclusive housing markets to enable more than 8 million people access to improved shelter solutions by 2020. www.habitat.org/tcis

Habitat is supported in this project by SeaFreight Labs (www.seafreightlabs.com), an open-innovation consultancy using global challenges to cost-effectively deliver breakthrough innovation. Participation in this project is a direct result of the recent SeaFreight Labs decision to join the Pledge 1% movement.


What is InnoCentive?

InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge?

An InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge is a broad question formulated to obtain access to new ideas, similar to a global brainstorm for producing a breakthrough idea or market survey which may include ideas for a new product line, a new commercial application for a current product, or even a viral marketing idea to recruit new customers. Ideation™ Challenge submissions are typically about two written pages, and Seekers receive a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use all submissions.

In an Ideation™ Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third party information that they have the right to use and further the authority to convey that right and the right to use and develop derivative works to Seekers
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use

Solvers should not reveal any confidential information in their submissions. Often the Ideation™ Challenge will be followed by one or more of the other three Challenge types to further develop the ideas and gain Intellectual Property protection when the concept has been well-defined.

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