The Sustainability of Bamboo as a Building Material
Bamboo is a type of grass with a hard, woody, hollow stem. It the subfamily Bambusoideae of the grass family Poaceae. It is a type of grass and grows from it’s roots, when it is cut it quickly grows back with most species maturing in 3-5 years (39 inches in one day). There are almost 1500 species of bamboo in the world. Some facts about the sustainability of bamboo as a building material :
A naturally organic product. Most bamboo grows well without the use of pesticides or fertilizers and so growing it doesn’t contribute to these chemicals entering groundwater. Of course, it is also biodegradable and it can survive more than 120 years in the wild.
Bamboo is a critical element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It release 35% more oxygen that an equivalent stand of trees and sequesters carbon dioxide and is carbon neutral.
Bamboo has stronger structure than steel and it is widely used in the construction industry. It can be used in roof, wall, and floor trusses.The exceptionally strong and flexible bamboo poles are able to withstand the extreme forces imposed on a house during hurricanes and earthquakes. It has twice the compression strength of concrete and roughly the same strength-to-weight ratio of mild steel.
Bamboo is easy to cut, handle, repair, reposition and maintain, without the need for sophisticated tools or equipment. As a laminate, bamboo is lighter in weight and more heavy-duty than regular wood. Creating laminate strips requires removing the soft interior part of the culm, leaving only the hard exterior “skin” for the lamination strip. And it can be used in combination with other types of construction materials, like reinforcing materials for foundations.
Bamboo is non-polluting and does not have crusts or parts that can be considered waste. Instead of adding to the problems of polluting land-fills like conventional building waste, any part of the bamboo that is not used is recycled back into the earth as fertilizer or can be processed as bamboo charcoal.
I expect that the value of bamboo as a building material will only become more apparent as we move toward a time of wood scarcity and high costs of energy.