Bamboo’s ability to grow in the tropical, subtropical, or even temperate areas makes it an abundantly available plant in the world. As bamboo is so versatile, this renewable resource is often used in many applications, some of which I have covered already, but notably for construction, building & architecture due to its good mechanical properties as a natural building material.
Buildings account for:
- ~40% of global greenhouse gas emissions
- ~50% of the world’s energy consumption
- ~40% of raw materials.
Bamboo has a long tradition of being used as a structural material where it grows natively. However, only a few dozen species are suitable for construction. Of these, Moso, Asper and Guadua are the most common.
The Moso species native to China stores up to 250 tonnes of carbon per hectare – this is comparable to trees (but much more cost effective)!
There is plenty of research out there which promotes bamboo as a more sustainable material for building and architecture: Bamboo has a tensile strength 1.5 times greater than steel which concludes that the strength properties of concrete can be enhanced by providing bamboo instead of steel (which is both costly, and non-renewable). In fact, bamboo is suggested as the best, economical and environment friendly alternative material for steel in masonry structures.
As a “pioneer” plant (it grows in places no other plants can), bamboo is also a valuable tool for re-stabilising eroded landscapes, which additionally means that it does not have to compete with food crops for suitable land!
Although it has been used as a building material for millennia, bamboo is only at the early stages of its real growth spurt as the “material of the future” for the construction industry.
Update: A bamboo cathedral for learning – Heart of School, Green School Bali, Indonesia
As part of global climate summit COP26, some exemplary projects were selected for a virtual reality online exhibition of the “world’s greenest buildings”. The projects demonstrate the opportunities to tackle the climate change emergency and limit the environmental impact of buildings and cities. One of these, in particular, stands out as simply spectacular – and it is constructed of Bamboo!
“The school was built to appear as though grown from the ground, using bamboo and other local materials. Bamboo is a sustainable, versatile and rapidly replenishing material. The construction of Heart of School helped facilitate Bamboo U, which teaches architects, designers, engineers, environmental advocates and enthusiasts how to build and design with bamboo, promoting the use of the material in architecture in Bali and beyond.”weforum.org
- RICS www.rics.org
- WeForum www.weforum.org
- Ahmad Z., Ding Y., Shahzad A. (eds) Biotechnological Advances in Bamboo. Springer, Singapore.
- Chaowana, K., Wisadsatorn, S. & Chaowana, P., 2021. Bamboo as a Sustainable Building Material—Culm Characteristics and Properties. Sustainability, 13(13), p.7376.
- Kathiravan, Manojkumar et al, State of art of review on bamboo reinforced concrete, Materials Today: Proceedings, Volume 45, Part 2, 2021, Pages 1063-1066.,
- Liu, Pengcheng; Xiang, Ping; Zhou, Qishi; Zhang, Hai; Tian, Jiefu; et al. Journal of Renewable Materials; Henderson Vol. 9, Iss. 12, (2021): 2223-2239.
- Nareswarananindya et al 2021 IOP Conf. Ser.: Mater. Sci. Eng. 1010 012026