Supported by the 10YFP SBC Trust Fund and developed by UN-Habitat, CRAterre-ENSAG, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Cambridge, SHERPA is a free sustainable housing design tool. In the future, it is envisioned to also be a forum for discussing what sustainable housing means in the 21st century. The tool has been tested and applied by the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme, Yaam Solidaritè (Burkina Faso), Architecture sans Frontièrs Nepal and SofoNic (Nicaragua). The software itself has been developed by Aptivate, UK.

You can find the tool at or, if accessing it via your phone's browser.

Implemented in

  • Africa
  • Asia / Pacific
  • Latin America / Caribbean
  • Burkina Faso
  • Kenya
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua

Sectors of activity
Agricultural and Fishery, Environmental Services, Consumer Goods, Buildings and construction, Energy, Transport

Type of initiative
Capacity Building & Implementation, Education & Awareness Raising, Research, Analysis, Assessment

Type of lead actors
United Nations / intergovernmental organizations, Scientific and Technical, Business Sector

185000 US$

Start date

Shared by

Jessica Karhu

Senior sustainability specialist

Green Building Council Finland

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The three main expected accomplishments of the project are the following:

EA 1: Existing SHERPA methodology markedly improved, made adaptable to various local contexts, and made accessible and freely available;

EA 2: Sustainability of selected housing projects objectively improved;

EA 3: Broad acceptance of SHERPA within the wider housing community of practice

The Sustainable Housing Design Tool ‘SHERPA’ is an effort to provide accessible and free guidance to project managers and housing practitioners of all professions. While sustainability of housing in developed countries has primarily focused on energy-efficiency measures and the improvement of the existing building stock, SHERPA will also cover socio-cultural, economic and resilience indicators. It aims at encouraging low-tech and low-carbon approaches along the life cycle of buildings and settlements and covering different scales impacting on social, cultural, environmental and economic aspects: from the territory and neighbourhood level down to the individual household.

Lastly, by providing an accessible space for sharing and evaluating housing projects online, it will be a forum for discussing and understanding the myriad impacts housing has on consumption and production patterns as well as the sustainability of lifestyles.


As collected through the One Planet Reporting

Output level

Outreach and communication for SCP

  • SBC Programme provides training for sustainable housing in developing countries via SHERPA-tool article in World Green Building Week
  • Presentation of SHERPA tool at SMARTCOM (Smart community and urban planning in Namibia) Project workshop in Tampere, Finland, in August 2017
  • Exploring the possibility of SHERPA tool being used by donors like e.g. UNIDO, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, etc.
  • Presentation of SHERPA – A tool for sustainable housing design in the Global South at InnoFrugal Conference 2017, April 24-25, Helsinki (Finland)
  • SHERPA Marketing & Development Plan
  • SHERPA video in Nepal
  • SHERPA video in Burkina Faso
  • SHERPA Methodology for sustainable housing project: from beta version to (public) dissemination Side Event in Habitat III Quito 19 October
  • SHERPA final event in Villefontaine 24-25 May
  • Networking event "SHERPA: Your Personal Guide for Sustainable Housing Project" at the World Urban Forum 9 for the official launch of the SHERPA app.
  • SHERPA "how to" Video
  • SHERPA presentation to World Bank, Build Academy and Air BNB contest on Resilient Homes
  • Podcast - Circular Built Environment Regional Reports - interview of prof. Usha Iyer-Raniga

Training for SCP

  • Student Training Session on the Implementation of SHERPA tool in developing countries in Villefontaine 25.5.2017
  • SHERPA Training of Practitioners 9-11 October in Riobamba, Ecuador
  • Training event at the World Urban Forum 9 on the use of the SHERPA app
  • Webinar: SHERPA for sustainable housing projets

Knowledge resource and technical tool

  • Development of Sustainable Housing Design Tool SHERPA

Outcome level

Policy instrument for SCP

  • Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme - KENSUP Sustainable Housing Policy

Impact and Results

The following objectives have been achieved:

EA 1: Existing SHERPA methodology markedly improved, made adaptable to various local contexts, and made accessible and freely available;

EA 2: Sustainability of selected housing projects objectively improved;

EA 3: Broad acceptance of SHERPA within the wider housing community of practice

The project directly responds to SDG 11.1, 11.c and a number of provisions in the New Urban Agenda (and previous declarations) related to the environmental impact of housing production both in terms of operational energy as well as resource extraction, with the objective of influencing design decisions to the point where these impacts are markedly reduced. The slow uptake and currently minimal market share of building sustainability assessment and benchmarking schemes in the Global South has, however, shown that necessary conditions for quantifying these improvements are currently not given (cost barrier, lack of data and incentives for integration at policy or project level). The tool intends to strike a balance between ease of accessibility and allowing the user to infer reasonably the extent to which environmental objectives were archieved.

In addition, SHERPA provides housing practitioners from the public, private, community and non-governmental sectors, with or without extensive technical expertise, an accessible tool for evaluating their housing project's responsiveness to social, cultural and economic sustainability dimensions.+

Next steps and how to get involved

SHERPA 2.0 is now live at and (if you are accessing it via a mobile browser). Feel free to let us know what you think and how we can improve the tool at